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Updated: September 28, 2009 20:36 IST

Straw pictures get an international break

Staff Reporter
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Straw picture craftsman Kiran Rajendran with the laughing Jesus
The Hindu Straw picture craftsman Kiran Rajendran with the laughing Jesus Christ.

Straw pictures, a handicraft that was much in need of patronage has finally got a break. Ace straw picture craftsman Kiran Rajendran has been invited to take part in the five day Mode Heim Handwerk fair at Munich from November 25. This is the first time that straw pictures from India will get the opportunity to be displayed in an international gallery.

To the arena of handicrafts in India, straw pictures are a contribution from Kollam. The art of making straw pictures is comparatively new for it was developed only about sixty years ago by artist Victor who is no more now. Victor was fascinated by a greeting card sent to him by a friend in Malaysia which had some fine work in straw. He then gave a new dimension to that work with his own innovations.

The early straw pictures were usually backwater scenes. Later, Victor began to create portraits out of it. He promoted the craft by starting a school at Thrikadavur near Kollam and attracted many students.

Mr. Rajendran was one among them. He has already received the invitation from the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts and his Munich trip is sponsored by the Development Commission for Handicrafts. He told The Hindu that he will leave for Munich from here during the second week of November.

Mr. Rajendran is not only adept in creating portraits with straw but goes a step further. He creates popular scenes from Hindu mythology and the bible from straw. Of late he has even successfully experimented with history. He is now transforming his own ideas into pictures through the medium of straw. The unique laughing Jesus Christ is one of them.

The craft is worked with five shades of straw carefully identified by the craftsman, Mr. Rajendran said. These range from golden to white. The craft is simply captivating on a black background. Mr. Rajendran said it was a National Award for handicrafts received in 1999 that has enabled him go to Munich now.

He will carry ten of his completed works including the laughing Christ to Munich. He will also be carrying straw for the demonstration. The desire is to complete at least three pictures during the demonstration process. These would be based on Indian mythology, he said.

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