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From the tribal belt

Elegant clay ware, vibrant paintings and hand-woven stoles are some of the artistic tribal products showcased by the Rathawas during the on going sale at Gurjari. The expo closes on March 3.

WOODEN WONDERS: Perfect as giveaways or to keep at home.

ONE OFTEN hears of tribal haats and shandies, where the hill tribes descend down to the plains with their produce, which they barter for the oil, soaps and other essential goods and move back to their dwellings uphill. Rarely does one find the tribals come into urban heartlands more so to the chic city markets. These visits, when they do, are facilitated by the exhibitions organised to promote their traditional crafts and culture. One such exhibition in the twin cities is the Tribal Mela at Gurjari, where the Rathawas from the tribal district of Chota Udaipur have come down with their art and products. The offering includes handloom products, tableware, jewellery and woodwork.

Colourful hand woven stoles made on narrow looms set up on deep pits in the ground can be used as dupatta, yokes and sleeves. "These are exported to US and Japan," says the weaver Mohan Bhai Murji Bhai Wankar. Next to the stoles counter Leela, the jewellery maker is busy designing the glass bead chokers and earrings popular with the womenfolk in the region.

The tribal exhibition reflects the tribal cultural milieu and offers people in the twin cities an insight into their vibrant lifestyle via their exhibits, for instance the multicoloured `idhoni' traditional potholder and `peehi' flutes used during Dussera, or the bow and arrow that they craft, which are in fact make good gifting ideas.

SLICE OF CRAFT: `Pithora' paintings depict reflect the Rathawas's world in a nutshell. — Photos: K. Ramesh Babu

The colourful `Pithora' paintings on a white fabric reflect their simple world in a nutshell -- a few known animals such as elephant and horse or a bow and arrow and weighing balance -- instruments they are familiar with. "The black and white `Worli' paintings and the multi-coloured `Pithora' paintings are done on the walls back at home," says artist Sagan, from Dakia Gaon. The paintings when framed add vibrancy to the urban drawing rooms as well. Further the `Pithora' on wood, motifs carried forward on panels depict the same intensity. Other prominent woodworks comprise statuettes and panels in teak wood.One can consider the contemporary collection in the clay ware consisting of aesthetic dinner plates, bowls and woks for throw away prices. For instance the plates are priced at Rs. 20 while the wok, suitable for deep-frying, comes for Rs. 35. More for the kitchen, the traditional bamboo ware to serve rice, rotis and store vegetables are ones to check out for the table and kitchen. "I have been observing them over a decade. The Rathawas do not want to change their craft and want to preserve their art forms," says A.S.H. Rao, deputy general manager, Gujarat State Handicrafts Development Corporation Limited. About the fair, "this is an annual event with us. We are trying to encourage the craftsmen so that the art forms don't die and in the bargain the tribals can sell their products and eke out their livelihood," he says.

Have a peep into the colourful world of the Rathawas and check out their products as well at Gurjari (11 a.m.-8 p.m.). A discount of 10 per cent is being offered at the tribal produce during the fair that closes on March 3. For further information contact Gurjari on 23240149.


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