Exhibition Crafts Bazaar is back, showcasing a tantalising spread of handicrafts.

Over 150 artisans will converge on the stone corridors of Valluvar Kottam, with craft products rooted in quality from today. It is a challenge to choose from a tantalising spread of handicrafts such as basketry and bamboo products, contemporary brass bowls, urlis and lamps, stone images, terracotta figures, ritualistic and decorative items, lac bangles, glass toys, grass dhurries, Maharaja juttis, tribal artefacts, embroidered saris, fabric, hand-woven saris, and stoles from Benares and Kanchipuram, Patan and West Bengal, heritage Patolas and more.

The participating artisans include 20 national and eight State awardees and other artisans of exceptional brilliance.

Slice of history

Every craft item carries with it a slice of history: take the case of the delicately crafted Krishna conceived by Teju Ram Vishwakarma from Chhattisgarh. He says, “We’ve been making Gods and Goddesses as well as our auspicious two-legged horses and our tribal lamp, ‘Khutdiya’. They are part of our identity though today I also make candle stands, key chains and tribal figures for the urban market”. He bridges past, present and future with inherent intelligence.

Vaikunt Nakash’s Cherial paintings unfold stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata for the rural people. He says, “We make the painting on the scroll by sketching with ‘geru’ and follow it up by painting with natural water colours.” Today, Nakash paints on boxes and greeting cards for a growing urban clientele, keep a hoary tradition alive.

The gifted artisans craft out of grass, wood and stone, brass and silver amazing lifestyle products. Bhagaban Subudhi from Odisha creates inspirational icons of deities, wooden figurines and veined leaf shapes of stone. National awardee Yadav from Moradabad makes brass bowls, plates and wall hangings embellished with superb ‘darmiani’ work that has flowers and frolicking animals etched out.

The story of the RAHWAA carpet begins in the green shobai grass fields of Odisha. Some 250 ladies of the RAHWAA initiative collect and dry the grass and then weave it into the loveliest of carpets and laundry bins dyed in vibrant colours.

Also on view are coconut shell products, a range of paper and clay jewellery, coir craft and much more.

Delicate silver filigree ‘payals’ from Odisha tell the story of a craft going back centuries that includes jewellery specially made for Lord Jagannath. National awardee Pankaj Kumar Sahoo displays his oeuvre of silver filigree, figurines and artefacts created in his cottage workshop. The artist says, “Today we have diversified into light weight jewellery such as ‘juda’ pins, earrings, necklaces and kumkum boxes.”

Nageswarara Rao, hereditary toy maker from Kondapalli, covers the entire gamut of the state, from Gods and Goddesses to bullock carts in vivid colours. “My Hanuman is much in demand,” says the toy maker and adds, “So are my rural scenes, especially during kollu.”

There are so many more stories to be heard from fabled weavers and embroiderers who are taking a priceless legacy forward. The bazaar is a perfect venue to experience a living craft heritage.

The Crafts Bazaar 2012 is sponsored by the Office of the Development Commissioner, Handicrafts, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, and is being held to coincide with the World Crafts Council’s ‘KAIVALAM’.

It is being inaugurated today (Oct 5)b at 4.30 p.m., and is on from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. everyday till October 14 at Valluvar Kottam Hall, Valluvar Kottam High Road, Chennai – 34.

PUSHPA CHARI