Friday Review

Colours of Odisha

Ballav Mishra with his Saura tribal painting from Orrisa. Photo: K. Pichumani   | Photo Credit: K_Pichumani

To craft aficionados whose prized acquisitions include the delicately wrought Pattachitra paintings of Odisha, the Dastkar Mela offers an additional treat in the form of Saura paintings on silk from the same state.

“Though it bears certain similarities to Warli painting, the Saura style employs a distinctive pictorial vocabulary and the differences are obvious to the discerning viewer” says Shreeballav Mishra from Raghurajpur village, third-generation craftsman from a family that has honed the craft to perfection.

“The figures are less angular, the groupings more symmetric.”

Painted on locally woven tussar silk with natural dyes sourced from organic materials, plants and trees, the themes include Santala dances, harvest festivals and wedding processions of the Bonda and Dongria tribes. Concentric circle formations of human stick figures are interspersed with representations of birds, animals and trees.

In a shining example of the characteristic symmetry, a Tree of Life is dotted with miniature monkeys, peacocks, flowers and fruit.

Inspiring themes

The collection also includes traditional Pattachitra palm leaf scrolls surrounded by smaller Dasavataram panels that fold over to reveal animal figures on one side and Konarak or Khajuraho sculpture-inspired themes on the other. Reverentially unfolding an heirloom, slightly yellowed with age, the artisan explains, “Crafted by my grandfather, this is a masterpiece in which the cut-work, engraving and painting stand out for attention to minute detail.”

Shreeballav’s imagination takes wing in an unusual depiction of Lord Krishna seated on an elephant whose body, trunk and legs are formed by the supple limbs and flowing garments of gopikas. Priced from Rs.1,500 onwards, Pattachitra works also include Krishna lore brought to life through large figures in vivid colours.

Odisha’s ikat textile tradition finds sophisticated expression in saris, yardage, stoles, tailored kurtis and shirts in fine hand spun 100 and 120 count cotton from the looms of Jayant. Living up to the high standard set by exceptional weavers in the family who include uncle Sadanand Patra, winner of the President’s award, Jayant goes the extra mile to craft unusual pieces. A sari dyed entirely in rice water and mango bark extract exemplifies his quest for perfection. Dominant black, white, red and blue shades are juxtaposed to present strong contrasts with woven borders. Gorgeous mulberry silks, buttery in texture, ranging from Rs. 15,000 to 25,000, spell class in subtle double shades.

“The natural dyeing process for such pieces takes two weeks with another two weeks for the weaving,” says Jayant.

Nilambar Jena from Khandua village specialises in lightweight silk stoles with geometric motifs and wall hangings illustrating traditional themes. His Navagunjara motif detailing a hybrid entity incorporates parts of the elephant, horse, tiger, lion, horse, bull, peacock snake and a woman’s arm.

The highlight of the exhibition is that majority of stalls display handloom saris and textiles from different states – Chanderi, Maheshwari, Benarasi, Bhagalpuri silk and cotton, Kashmiri and Kantha embroidery in a profusion of textures, exclusive weaves and brilliant shades.

The exhibition is on at the Valluvar Kottam from July 31 – August 13 from 10 a.m – 9 p.m.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 2:55:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dastkar-mela-exhibition-at-the-valluvar-kottam-from-july-31-to-august-13/article6267645.ece

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