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Colours of India

TAKE YOUR PICK From an eye-catching variety of handicraft. Photo : Bhagya Prakash K.

TAKE YOUR PICK From an eye-catching variety of handicraft. Photo : Bhagya Prakash K.   | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K

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Varna is any handicraft lover's delight, with knick-knacks in every possible material and for any corner of your house

It's one of those stores you'll easily miss, tucked away in a bylane of Malleswaram's jam-packed old shopping area — the market. It's also a place that proves the adage right that all good things come in small packages. The little terracotta urlis and Ganeshas displayed outside and the colourful toranas are what draw you in, but when you step in, you're thinking “Is this all?” Only to be told there's more spread on two floors tucked neatly (and invisibly) upstairs!

So once your eyes take in the beautiful brass idols and colourful Ganeshas in many forms, linger on the miniature black painted pottery, all the Feng Shui paraphernalia, look at the luscious scented candles, and the ears have taken your eyes to the tinkling wind chimes, your eyes will hit the quaint-looking stairs. The steep climb to the small attic-like space above (lined with more Warli and Madhubani paintings) will take you to one more level of indulgence.

Aluminium lacquer-painted jewellery boxes are sure to catch your eye — they come perched on colourful Rajasthani jooti-clad “feet”! There are also cute animal curios and display sets — a set of three cats, a pair of roosters and the like. These are from Rajasthan, points out proprietor Arun Kumar. “We have craft from various regions like Gujarat, Haryana, UP, Delhi, Hathsar near Agra, Panipat, Pondicherry, Kondapalli, and places in and around Bangalore. In all we stock over 4,000 varieties,” he says. “We have at least 100 different varieties of toranas alone,” he adds. He also quickly lists out the variety of materials in which he has hand-crafted pieces — jute, paper, terracotta, glass, aluminium, resin, antique wood, brass, cloth, white metal, black clay, wax, Mysore sheesham wood etc.

Varna started off as a clay art shop, but then Arun says it became difficult to sustain only on one form. Moreover, half the delicate goods would be damaged in transit and customers would not be willing to bear the brunt of high-end packaging. “What we have now is a mix of products to include miniature furniture, garden furniture and ornaments that can be customised, paintings and murals of all materials and traditions and so much more,” says Arun.

The third level of the shop, again reached by a steep flight of stairs has flower vases, lamp shades, paintings, Mysore wood art, glass lanterns and candle stands, masks, Channapatna toys, diyas, photo frames, potpourri, jute bags and purses, stationery, and a variety of dolls, specially the kind kept on display during Dasara. Prices of products range between Rs. 20 and Rs. 5,000. It's a great place to pick up gifts, especially when you need something that represents the country's rich art and craft tradition.

The store has four annual events — a special display and sale of Ganeshas during the Ganapathi festival, and to coincide with the other two festivals, a display of Dasara dolls and diyas for Deepavali.

Then there's an annual off-season sale. This year it is from March 26 to April 8, with a discount of 30 per cent on purchases of Rs. 500 and above.

Varna is at no 97/3, East Park Road, 9 cross, next to Post Office, Malleswaram. Call 23469504/ 99001-08575. Or email varnahandicraft@gmail.com

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 4:08:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/colours-of-india/article2984768.ece

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