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Bikaneri painters’ ancestors worked in Ajanta caves

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Time travel: Krishna Chandra Sharma, who is at Kala Ashram in Adilabad in connection with the Sahyadri Kala Utsav, displays photographs related to his work in Bikaner in Rajasthan.
Time travel: Krishna Chandra Sharma, who is at Kala Ashram in Adilabad in connection with the Sahyadri Kala Utsav, displays photographs related to his work in Bikaner in Rajasthan.

S. Harpal Singh

Ancestors of fresco painters did the exquisite paintings before migrating

‘Families of painters in Bikaner drew figure of elephant in the manner done in Ajanta caves’

Documentation by researcher includes the history and origins of artisans called Salavats

ADILABAD: Researcher Krishna Chandra Sharma’s discovery about the ancestry of the Bikaneri painters in Rajasthan should logically become a case study of factors that keep impacting the lives of artists and artisans. His meticulous inquiry into the subject revealed that the ancestors of these fresco painters were the ones who had done the exquisite paintings in the 2nd century BC Ajanta caves in Maharashtra before migrating to Rajasthan.

“The discovery was accidental. The three families of painters who we had come across in Bikaner drew the figure of elephant in the manner done in the Ajanta caves. I started tracing back their history and found their shifting took them to Jaunpur, Indore, Marwad and subsequently to Rajasthan,” explains Mr. Sharma.

He is a former employee in the Rajasthan State Archives department and currently engaged in documentation of artisans and their work in his historic home town of Bikaner while running Lokayan, an NGO.

He is here to participate in the Sahyadri Kala Utsav at Kala Ashram.

“Bikaner offers a great chance for research in history, culture, folk life and folk art. The art of Bikaner like its paintings belong to a different style. The red sand stone buildings in town do not have the regulation similarities. It looked challenging enough for me to take up the task of researching on these aspects,” observes Mr. Sharma.

The construction of sand stone buildings and the style of paintings in Bikaner is about 450 years old. The variance in design of buildings and the pattern of assemblage resembles that of the seeds in a pomegranate.

“Because of such a pattern I like to call Bikaner as Dadim nagri or pomegranate town,” adds the researcher.

The documentation being done by the 65 year old Mr. Sharma includes the history and origins of artisans called Salavats who started the construction in the town and the quarrying of the stone and so on.

“Buildings continued to be made in red sand stone until about 60 years back. Having traced two families of Salavats, we have taken steps to reorganise and revive their art,” says Mr. Sharma.

The artisans are now trained in changed use of sand stone like making of beautiful decorative articles to keep their livelihood going.


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