Deepak Jain’s naquash designs on his collection of antique items turn them into art objects.

“Rummaging through old family ‘taikhanas’ or dusty antique shops or even a chaiwallah’s kiosk in small towns can be a rewarding experience, uncovering dimly remembered hand crafted products, which once defined our lives,” says Deepak Jain, collector and naquash artisan from Khajuraho. His inspired collection such as old brass diyas, pandaans, hand kavachs, horses, objets d’art‘latkans’ with ghungroos are redolent with the artistry of a time when the artisan spent leisurely hours over a diya, reflecting the poetry of a bird in flight, or a precious pandaan or even a ‘jhunjhuni for a child’s cradle. Deepak does intricate naquash work over the surface of each his old brass items collected over many decades.

“My naquash designs are my own,” says the artisan, “and mostly inspired by nature, the monuments and our myths and stories.” Holding up a superbly crafted paandaan filled with ancient coins, he explains how he sketches the pattern on the metal surface of the box and then fills it with plaster of Paris before he begins his naquash work. “That is for protecting the box,” points out Deepak, adding, “since the naquash work is done by a thin iron needle like tool that hammers in the shape on the metal surface with the help of a hand-held hammer”. His pandaan has five arabesques and circular imagery on the top, while the sides are covered with delicate Khajuraho-inspired apsaras. His work can be as nuanced as the finest block printed swirls, transforming an antique brass ladle, pot or tel daan into art objects.

The ‘Rajasthan Grameen Mela’ also has interesting Mithila paintings and saris by Barun Jha. His concepts and colours are dramatic, from a grey and blood red Kali to animals frolicking on the ‘pallu’ and border of a Kasavu sari from Kerala.

Also on display at the Crafts Mela are Saura art silk paintings, tribal art by artist Krishna and a host of textiles, which includes phulkari fabric and salwar sets, Kantha saris, beautiful tussar yardage from Bhagalpur, block printed saris, zari-embroidered Chanderis and Maheswaris. Mojris from Rajasthan are an attraction, along with lac bangles from Rajasthan and Etikopakka jewellery. Among indoor décor items, one could pick up Madhurkati grass mats, Sharanpur furniture, Trikamgarh brass lamps, woodcraft products from Andhra and a lot more.

Rajasthan Grameen Mala is on at Valluvarkottam till June 15