Mapping culture

CRAFT-WISE Jaya Jaitly and Arpana Caur. PHOTO: ANU PUSHKARNA  

Almost four years ago, Dilli Haat saw an interesting exhibition, ‘The Crafts Maps of India’, which featured mammoth maps of all Indian states, highlighting their crafts, arts, history, monuments and buildings, entertainment and local flavour. To make the exhibits more captivating, the colourful maps were attached to installations showing religious and social practices of the respective states through their important art and craft products.

For instance, two maps on Punjab were made by the famous artist Arpana Caur. She had painted the Golden Temple, Kabir, Guru Nanak, and two local women doing the phulkari, the thread of which flows like a river through the map. The painting is interrupted with subheads and text (by Rekha Shankar) in various colours, featuring the state’s thread craft, pottery, woodwork, stone work, embroidery and leather work. A mason engrossed with his tools makes it more captivating. The installation has Punjab’s fans, phulkari items, pitchers and various other products. Arpana also made most of the maps, including the map of India.

But the show was a 15-day affair at the Dilli Haat and no one knew where those extremely informative maps and installations vanished.

Jaya Jaitly, former minister and pioneer of the craft movement in India, who designed and conceptualised ‘The Crafts Maps of India’, smiles and answers, “The maps were lying with me. I decided to donate them to the Craft Museum for the benefit of the visitors.”

Costly affair

An uphill task, it took Jaya and her team “10 years” to complete the documentation of all the crafts of India. “Some crafts mentioned in the maps may not be existing anymore, for they were dying when we documented them. Since then much development has happened. For instance, in Uttaranchal, the fibre product factory is doing extremely well now. It was a huge task that required private funding. So, many Members of Parliament, the TATA Group, Hindustan Motors, among others, chipped in. Its total worth is now Rs.70 lakh,” adds Jaya.

Interestingly, the back of the maps is protected with handloom saris. “I took out 40 of my saris for the same,” says Jaya feebly.

Mushtaq Khan, Deputy Director of the Craft Museum, says, “All these maps would now be displayed in huge acrylic cases with installations in the corridors of the Crafts Museum by January 2010. It will take us up to Rs.10 lakh to prepare fool-proof cases.”

These exquisite full imperial size storytelling maps, which can be folded conveniently for the pocket, are available at Dastkaari Haat Samiti at Khan Market for Rs.125 each only.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 7:18:49 AM |

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