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Mysore’s inlay woodwork gets a boost

Nandita Bhakta
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Patronage:Participants at a workshop on inlay woodwork in Mysore on Thursday.— M.A. Sriram
Patronage:Participants at a workshop on inlay woodwork in Mysore on Thursday.— M.A. Sriram

The Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS) at Wellington House here has brought out a ‘Do and learn’ scheme, which aims to boost the morale of traditional artisans and create awareness on the different art forms in the country, many of which are tottering on the brink of extinction.

The IGRMS is an autonomous organisation under the Union Ministry of Tourism and Culture. It seeks to promote traditional and tribal art forms and also conducts over 20 training programmes and workshops every year.

Under the ‘Do and learn’ scheme, the IGRMS is currently conducting a workshop on the famous Mysorean art form of inlay woodwork, which is the 65th such event in this series. The 14-day programme began on May 19.

Florence Ruth is the resource person for the workshop. She has been teaching and practising the art form for over 15 years.

17th century art form

J. Vijay Mohan, officer-in-charge of the IGRMS pointed out that this art form was particularly prominent in 17th Century India. Several artisans would collaborate on a single piece of rosewood and inlay it with ivory to make exquisite articles of desire, which were coveted by the Mysore royalty.

Explaining the significance of the art form, Mr. Mohan said artisans focussed on themes reflecting Mysorean lifestyle, traditions and culture, such as the Dasara processions, rural landscapes, animals, and hunts, among other subjects.

The royalty’s lavish patronage of this art form has given it a unique identity.

What is worrying is that while this art form has evolved to become part of Mysore’s culture, there are less than 4,000 artisans today skilled in the craft. Like many others, this particular art form is on the decline, according to Mr. Mohan.

For local artisans and art lovers, this workshop, which concludes on June 2, should not be missed.

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