Art

Heralding Navaratri

Display of Bandhani Fabrics at Rajasthan Grameen Mela. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan  

Two pre-Navaratri craft fairs in the city – the National Craft festival at Sankara Hall (10 a.m. - 9 p.m. till September 16) and the Rajasthan Grameen Mela (10 a.m. – 8 p.m. till September 13) feature special collections of handlooms and handicrafts with rebates for the upcoming festive season.

At Sankara Hall, an array of well-crafted ‘kolu’ dolls made from clay and papier mache features some unusual themes. “The clay ‘thalaiyatti bommai’ is composed of four sections, two in front and two at the back. Soft, wet clay is pressed into moulds dusted with chalk powder, removed and kiln-fired. The four parts are fused with clay daubed over the joints and painted in bright hues. A spring securely embedded in the clay causes the head to bob’, says doll-maker Shakthivel.

“The Thanjavur bommais made in the same method from a mix of paper pulp and tapioca root paste have the advantage of being lightweight, while traditional Marapachi dolls are an added attraction.” Other themes include a striding Raja Ganesha holding an umbrella, Dasavataram, Radha Krishna, the rare Suruttappalli recumbent Siva with his head resting on Parvathi’s lap, Ayyappa and Sholingar (Rs. 900 – 3,000). Gatodhgaja at the Maya Bazaar wedding feast is a special edition.

From West Bengal, National awardee Uttam Kumar Paul’s range of excellently fashioned, satin-smooth terracotta planters, hanging pots, mask-style vases and diya holders (Rs. 100-450) is a sure draw for gardening enthusiasts. What sets them apart is the hand-etched surface motifs coloured with fade-resistant vegetable dyes that withstand sun and rain. Sikkim traditional Bakhu dress, Lepcha jackets, bamboo purses, baskets and trays from the North East, children’s frocks from Sri Lanka, block-printed Arani saris, Thanjavur paintings, Chennapatna and Kondapalli toys are among the items on display.

A wealth of textiles from Rajasthan, Kutch, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Kashmir is the USP of the exhibition at Valluvar Kottam. Kutchi craftsperson Usha Ben explains the intricacies of ‘Rai Bandhani’ that adorns Gaji silk and Dupion silk saris, salwar sets and Ghar Chola saris. “The vivid hues are obtained by dipping the white base fabric in water treated with alum, peepul leaf and rock salt, which enables maximum colour absorption. Herbal powder dyes impart bright shades that do not bleed even with repeated washing. Miniscule knots are tied in patterns to create the delicate speckled bandhani while pure zari is used in weaving,” she adds.

Peer into a lattice-webbed marble elephant and you will see a baby elephant within. “Each piece is carved from a single stone”, says Rakesh Prajapathi from Agra. “For the delicate jali work, a free-hand design is sketched on the marble and the intervening spaces cut out using an iron needle. Next, the design edges are smoothed with a flat chisel, a lathe is inserted into the hollows to thin the stone and the surface rubbed with sand paper”. Marble lamp holders, gold-tipped coloured glass figurines and Ganeshas are bestsellers.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 9:24:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art/twin-treat-for-the-chennaiities/article7636917.ece

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