Tamil Nadu

Handcrafted ‘kulhads’ serve as a canvas for artisans to paint Kalamkari, Gond and Madhubani art


Artist Thalanki Rajagopal from Tamil Nadu is thrilled to recreate the iconic Mahabalipuram Shore Temple in Tanjore-painting style. He is working on an unusual canvas : a kulhad, the earthen cup traditionally used to drink tea. And is one of many artists participating in the #DeshKaKulhad initiative.

Rare Planet, a start up that promotes and helps artisan community across India, has collaborated with Tata Tea Premium to create a collection 26 distinct kulhad designs, each representing different regions of India. The handcrafted kulhads serve as a canvas for artisans to use regional painting styles including Kalamkari, Gond or Madhubani to paint landmarks, historical events, food, festivals, culture and popular motifs of each State. Rajagopal says the feedback has been promising. “It has created an interest among art lovers who want to know more about Tamil Nadu’s art history.” A music video sung by Rituraj Mohanty takes you on a colourful joyride across the length and breadth of the country showcasing the hand-painted work of the local artisans.

Piyali Sana from West Bengal depicts the Howrah Bridge, Victoria Palace and the rickshaws of Kolkata in patua art. “I come from the Patua community and our family specialises in patua art for generations,” says the 23-year-old artist. It is made on cloth scrolls using natural dyes made from vegetables and other natural ingredients. “We used to get regular orders to make patua designs on products such as T-shirts, bags, umbrella, book covers, and lampshades. As there is a decline in orders during the pandemic, our families are happy to work on the kulhads as it helps us earn an income.” adds Piyali.

Jay Odera from Gujarat sees this as an opportunity to popularise the lesser-known pithora paintings from his region. “Our pithora paintings are rich in imagery drawn from everyday life including animals (especially horses), instruments, and festivals which our ancestors celebrated with great aplomb. We are happy to continue that legacy by modernising it on kulhads.”

While urging people to buy these pieces of art, the brand also contributes an additional amount for every product sold from this collection to support the artisan community. “kulhads are an intricate part of Indian culture across the country and most of us would have enjoyed an occasional kulhad waali chai,” says Puneet Das, President - Packaged Beverages (India and South Asia), Tata Consumer Products. “ It is a chance for us to own a vibrant and colourful art collection as well as support the artisans.”

You can shop for hand painted kulhads on indiakichai.com

To watch the video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlKZgxB53r0

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