D.V.L Padma Priya
Award for Srikalahasti trio for painting Ramayana on cloth
The 180-metre unique painting done in two years by using natural colours
Commercialisation of Kalamkari art criticised
HYDERABAD: One is awestruck by the sheer size of the painting and amazed that an entire mythological story has been depicted in it. The ‘Sree Ramchandra Poorvapara Cherithan’, a 180-metre painting, is unique for many reasons. Firstly, it has been painstakingly hand-painted on dyed cloth using natural colours in the traditional art form of Kalamkari, which is said to be over 3,000 years old and is specific to Machilipatnam and Srikalahasti. Secondly, not many artisans have painted or depicted this story which narrates the tale before and after Ramayana.
Best craft item
Lastly, the painting bagged the State award given away by the A.P Handicrafts Development Corporation Limited (Lepakshi) for the best craft item. Painted by Patalam Ramachandraiah, M.Saraswati and I.Geeta, artisans from Srikalahasti in Chittoor district, the ancient art form is seen in its full glory here.
Though humbled and honoured by the award in recognition of their effort spanning two years, Mr. Ramachandraiah is not a happy man. “Kalamkari paintings use only natural colours, but over the years many artisans have moved to chemical colours as they have been told it is more profitable,” he alleges. He feels the art form is being commercialised to cash in on its demand outside India. “There are people who don’t know the A,B,C,D of Kalamkari and yet claim to be artisans and also earn more than us by taking part in private exhibitions,” he says. Ms. Geeta, a Kalamkari painter for 15 years, says steps should be taken to discourage screen printing machines which duplicate their work. “By setting up a screen printing machine, a person is depriving 10 artisans of job,” she says, adding that the government should ban such duplication as it dilutes the art form.