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Ethno-chic fare

Tradition with a contemporary twist is how one would describe the on-going Heritage Collection Exhibition

Innovative styles and colours in Mangalagiri — Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

BHASKAR, AN artiste from Sri Kalahasti, sketches matsya avatar, the first of the dashavatars with deft fingers for a panel that he is working on. He hasn't gone to any fine arts school — he learned the strokes from his father.

"Skills as these comprise legacy — they have been passed down since centuries by artisans who, like court poets, were patronised by the then rulers. This is the reason that one finds the work ornamental. Especially woodcarving and miniature paintings that served as narratives depicting the Ramayana, Krishnaleela and Srinivasa kalyanam. The patronage dropped in the pre independent era. In order to keep this heritage alive, it is imperative to combine functionality with ornamentation and to diversify the product line. We are helping them redefine their art to suit the modern context," says B. Jayaraj, Managing Director, Andhra Pradesh Handicrafts Development Corporation Limited, on the Heritage Collection Exhibition (till August 15, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.) at TTD Kalyana Mandapam, near Liberty X Roads. At the current expo, Pochampally goes beyond the scope of sari and salwar kameez to the crafting of utility college bags as does the traditional benarasi jacquard that makes an ethnic option for a letter holder.

Kalamkari, the vegetable dye tradition from Bandar that was once restricted to bed sheets and shirts now finds its way to the woven durries of Warangal. For the first time Maheshwari saris get a dash of block prints, with daboo (mud) motifs.

On the handicrafts front, conventional frosted glass takes new forms of artistic Ganeshas, as also newer raw materials. Powdered stone and banana stem are explored for crafting figurines.

Talking fashion, one finds contemporary haute clay jewellery from the potter matched with a new subdued colour palette and a melange of embellishment in the current lines of handlooms.

The traditional `nizam' border for Mangalagiri makes way for a brighter silver and gold multicoloured `film' border. And kalamkari palette has more than traditional red, black and yellow hues. "Now we have colours such as green, grey and indigo. Apart from jaggery and karakkai, now we have newer raw material for vegetable dye such as pomegranate," explains a kalamkari artiste. Also, traditional weaves take up technological advancements such as cotton-silk that needs no starch, weightless weaves and art (artificial/polyester) silk.

"We intend to upgrade regional handicrafts through Integrated Cluster Development Project, offering technical and financial support, and market linkage. Also, we are aiming at international markets and plan to open franchisee showrooms overseas. We already have a good response for Nirmal furniture, paintings, Pembarthi brass sheets and Cheriyal paintings," explains Jayaraj. The products are available at the ongoing expo.

Drop in to have a look at the changing face of tradition that can be described best as ethno-chic.


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