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Aesthetic handicrafts on show

Shoppers showing keen interest in dry flowers.

To say that Indian handicrafts excel in sheer beauty, tradition and artistry is to stress the obvious.

Coming close on the heels of the recent Lepakshi Crafts Bazar-2002, Vizagites have another opportunity to savour these art forms at the ongoing 15-day handicraft and handloom mela called the All-India Crafts Bazar-2002 organised at the Prahlada Kalyana Mandapam by Kala Srusti, a rural educational, handlooms and handicrafts artisans' welfare association.

At the entrance one is greeted by huge woodcrafts, both in mythological themes and door carvings, and utility ware like tables. There are two figures of Balaji, big horse brackets-a decorative piece, and Dasavathara panels, all carved in neem, venga, mahogany and teak. About 1,000 families in the villages of Pallamalu and Madhavamala near Srikalahasti in Chittoor district practise this craft. The sheer exquisitiveness of the carving is evident and it is distinct from similar wood carvings carried out in other parts of the country.

The traditional Tanjore paintings from Madanapalle are on display in different sizes and colour schemes. The portraits are outlines with thin gold on an appropriate background making them look rich and lively.

The leather lampshades in assorted designs are a treat made by aratisans originally from Marathwada. Over 100 of them had migrated to Nimmalakunta in Anantapur district and were engaged in the manufacture of leather puppets in different sizes and designs. The subjects depicted were mostly from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. This puppetery craft, the erstwhile source of entertainment, was patronised by the then rulers but lost out on patronage and market support in recent times. Ever since, they have diversified into lampshades in various sizes and shapes, happily engendering a good market response.

A colourful display of various Indian deities carved in wood.-- Photos: K. R. Deepak

The walnut wood carvings from Sarangpur in Uttar Pradesh are pleasing to the eye. Items displayed include jewellery and fruit boxes, agarbatti stands, spoons and toys.

Among the rare items seen in this part of the country are the dry flowers from Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir. There are also zari embroidery works from Hinganghat in Wardha district and zari items from Agra, mostly bags for women and cushion covers.

Also on display are Rajasthan and Haryana printed bed and pillow covers, patchwork dinner sets, sofa beds and cushion covers that are very bright with fine needle work. There is ghaghra choli from Rajasthan, totally handmade and embedded with mirror work, besides Bandini prints, the intricately-done popular dress material, and silk sarees, wall hangings and cushion covers from Benaras.

The famous Narsapur crochet laces are irresistible. The craft was originally introduced in the 19th century by the Macraus, a Scottish couple, to provide employment to a few poverty-striken women. It has now reached almost every home-maker in that town as a part-time occupation and in Palakole, Razole and Rajahmundry. It is estimated that there are over 1.5 lakh artisans are engaged in this craft which has a good export demand as well. The work is intricate and the utility ware consists of lace oblongs in assorted designs, table mats, round table, bed and pillow covers and also dresses.

An interesting display at the bazar is that of the patchworks from Nagpur said to be the only one of its kind. It consists mostly of carrybags, jewel boxes and dining table mats. There are also utility items made in jute from West Bengal, terracota works from Krishnanagar and leather purses, belts and bags from Shantiniketan.

The handwoven durries from Warangal, ranging from jacquard design to interlock ones, are another attraction, as also the Kalamkari block prints. Then there are the tie and dye (ikat) bedspreads, cushion covers, divan sets and also silk sarees. Tie and dye is basically handweaving in cotton and silk and it is pursued by thousands of weavers in Pochampalli and surrounding villages of Nalgonda district. The process involves tieing the yarn and dyeing, using different colours to get a pre-set design before setting the yarn on to the loom for weaving. The beauty of the craft lies in the weaving of elaborate designs all along the weft and along the warp. These silk sarees are said to be the pride of Andhra Pradesh.

Among other interesting items on show at the bazar are Madhubani paintings, Adivasi crafts from Bastar, wrought iron works from Moradabad in UP, jute products from Bijjupuram of Laveru mandal in Srikakulam district, dress material from Orissa, tussar silk painting from Jaipur in Rajasthan, marble carvings from Agra and lac bangles from Hyderabad.

Jewellery made out of beads and other semi-precious stones.

A very artistic piece is the `show window' from Nathdware, Rajasthan. It is made from wood with a covering of white metal and brass lining. Other items in this section include flower vases, letter and jewellery boxes and photo and mirror framers.

``About 120 craftpersons and weavers from across the country are participating in the bazar. This is after similar melas we had in Hyderabad, Kurnool, Vijayawada and Gudivada. The response here is encouragoing so far, and we hope it will pick up in the days ahead,'' says the Kala Srusti secretary, G. Dasaradha Chary.

The bazar, which opens every day at 10 a.m. is on till November 5.


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