Tradition Artisans Krishna Rao and Sayyed Khizr work magic with lace and wood. PUSHPA CHARI

A ndhra's handlooms and handicrafts exude a distinct flavour found in the finest of weaves and embellishments, painting traditions, metal craft, silver filigree and wooden toys. While the Chennapatna toys, in particular, the miniature wooden vessels, have been around for a long time, Narsapur lace is a late entrant, having been introduced as part of the Raj lifestyle during the British rule. Both these crafts, along with other crafts and textiles from Andhra Pradesh, are being showcased at Lepakshi's Andhra Textiles and Handlooms exhibition currently on in the city.

Narsapur lace came in with the sahibs. Krishna Rao, a lace maker, who learnt his trade from a ‘guru' in the village, says, “The English ladies who taught it in schools and convents had a fine method of doing crochet, with floral and leaf patterns. Today many households do this work in their homes as a cottage industry. The women are involved in lace making or crochet while the men come up with the patterns.”

He adds, “I have come up with many new patterns, with names such as ‘gora stambha', ‘pineapple', ‘diamond' and ‘ghanta'.” Each motif has a distinct charm and fans out from the centre in a cascade of diamond or bell shapes, the old style flower and leaves. Today the Narsapur artisans create with dexterity lace tablecloth, bedspreads, table and bed linen, skirts and frocks.

Family vocation

Sayyed Khizr learnt toy making from his father. It is a family vocation now.

“We make traditional miniature vessels, but now increasingly, I am into trains, animals, jars and cars. Games and toys are also in great demand.”

Talking about the process, Khizr explains, “We first draw the pattern on paper. Then we shape the milk wood as per the design. Using vegetable colours, we paint it and once the paint is dry, coat it with a layer of lacquer to give it the sheen that the Chennapatna toys are famous for.”

Sayyed Khizr's repertoire includes lovely tops, bangles, musical boxes and toys. Bright and attractive, Khizr's speciality is animal forms such as crocodile and snake, which have leather running through the spine to which separate ribbed pieces are joined, making them flexible.

Lepakshi's Andhra Handicraft and Handloom Fair also has on display other items such as Kalamkari wall hangings, Warangal dhurries and Pochampalli, Narayanpet and Gadhwal zari saris.

The exhibition is on at Vijaya Raja Thirumana Mandapam, 58, 1st Avenue Road, Shastri Nagar, Adyar, till January 12.