Vishwakarma Puja 2018 Special: Artisans of 5 Indian Crafts Who Deserve Our Respect
According to the Mahabharata, "The lord of the arts, executor of a thousand handicrafts, the carpenter of the gods, the most eminent of artisans, the fashioner of all ornaments...”
Yes, we’re talking about Lord Vishwakarma, in the honour of whom Vishwakarma Puja is celebrated every year. A Hindu God and a divine architect, he is said to be the creator of the world or swayambhu. He constructed the holy city of Dwarka where Krishna ruled, the Maya Sabha of the Pandavas, and was also the designer of all flying chariots of the gods, and their weapons. In Puranas, he is recognised as the supreme worker, the bearer of excellence and quality in craftsmanship.
Thus, it is customary for craftsmen to worship their tools in His name. On this day, people who are engineers, architects, artisans, mechanics, smiths, welders, and factory workers organise a puja at their shop, factories, and industrial areas. Statues and pictures of Lord Vishwakarma are installed and they pray for a better future and safe working conditions.
Vishwakarma Puja 2018 is just around the corner. Just like every year, it is going to be on September 17. It is generally celebrated in Indian states such as Karnataka, West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tripura, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh. In India, we are privileged to possess some highly skilled artisans who have time and again added to the fame of Indian handicrafts all over the world. So we decided to throw some light on artisans of 5 Indian crafts who deserve our respect on the pious occasion of Vishwakarma Puja.
Dhokra art dates back to 4000 years ago. What’s fascinating is that it has survived the test of time and is still in use today. Basically, it’s casting of non-ferrous metal – bronze and copper-based alloys – using the ‘lost-wax casting’ technique. It involves several processes and thus, a single piece can take up to a month or two to be created.
Did you know, one of the earliest known lost-wax casting artefacts is the legendary dancing girl of Mohenjo Daro? Mostly, Dhokra art involves human or animal figurines such as elephants, peacocks, and owls. They may also be religious images, measuring bowls, lamp caskets, etc. They have a great demand in both domestic and foreign markets.
While Dhokra art originated in West Bengal, over time the tribes moved to Jharkhand, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh. Check out Bhansali Handicrafts from Chattisgarh who deserve our attention and appreciation. Kushal Bansal, the man behind Bhansali Handicrafts, took it upon himself to spread the popularity of Dhokra art all over the world. He started this pursuit in 2011 and since then, has become one of the leading exporters of a wide range of Dhokra art figurines with unmatched quality, designs, and finish.
From tribal standing pair, Narnia horse to Shiva Nandi, and Ashvamedha Yagna, you can find all kinds of artefacts at SaleBhai. Each item has perfect finish, is stain-resistant, and innovative in its design.
2. Kondapalli Toys
The tradition of craft in India has grown around religious values and needs of the common people. Creating these creative pieces of art is still the source of livelihood for many rural people. Kondapalli toys are created by skilled artisans of Kondapalli, a small village nestled amidst the hills of Andhra Pradesh. The origin of the craft dates back to the 16th century. The artists were known as Arya Kshatriyas back then.
These exquisite pieces are made of light, soft wood called puniki – a rich species of fauna – which is found in nearby Kondapalli Hills. The woods are delicately carved into different shapes and design using skilled hands. Different parts of the toys are sculpted separately and then the parts are glued together with an adhesive made of crushed tamarind seeds. The toys are smoothed and painted in natural colours, oils, enamel paints, and vegetable dyes which elevate the detailing of the art.
Kondapalli artisans mainly craft toys that depict humanity in any form – palanquin-bearers carrying a bride, rural folks, cobblers, divinity in the form of mythological gods, plants, animals, and much more. In 2016, Satyadhar and Vijay Maruthi Babu created Crafts Terrain – a platform for such craftsmen to showcase their artistic excellence to the world. And in just a few months, this venture made a name for its exquisite work, superior quality, and great finish.
3. Brass Art
Indian brass handicraft is renowned all over the world. Before the advent of Iron Age, copper and its alloys were used for making metal tools and objects of daily use. And today, different objects of art are made such as Lord Ganesha's figure in different postures, wine glasses, ornament boxes, vases, perforated lamps, table tops, and many more.
Brass has durability, and this adds to its advantage when used as utility products. It is believed that the roots of the brass can be traced backed to Moradabad – known as the capital of brass handicraft industry of India. Since maximum of the city’s population is involved in brass handicraft, it is also called Pital Nagri. The skills of artists of this city are unmatched across the globe.
The artisans who deal in brass handicrafts are distinctively called ‘kansaris’. AFS handicrafts from Moradabad house a team of 50 local artisans whose love for this metal seems to be in their blood. They produce around 300 exclusive units every day. This enterprise crafts magnificent brass, crystal, wrought iron, jewellery, and other home-decor items. The pieces steal the show with their intricate detailing and beautiful designs.
4. Cane And Bamboo Craft
Cane and bamboo craft is one of the most ancient forms of art in India. Innovative and beautiful items are made of bamboo and cane such as utility baskets, yoga mats, handbags, toys, furniture, wall-hangings, napkin holder, jewellery boxes, and many more. These are light in weight and look very elegant. And the best part is that they require less maintenance and are the most eco-friendly. They are not only popular in India but also abroad.
Bamboo handicrafts are primarily prepared in Assam, West Bengal, and Tripura. The dense forests in the northeastern state of Assam are laden with bamboos and canes of numerous species. There’s a group named GISKAA, an acronym for the capitals of all the Northeast states – Guwahati and Gangtok, Imphal and Itanagar, Shillong, Kohima, Agartala and Aizwal, which aims towards bringing the art of northeast India in the limelight.
Versatile bamboo and cane serve as a raw material and act as an integral part of Assamese lifestyle and economy. The making of bamboo handicrafts is practised as a household industry by a large number of scattered artisans throughout the state.
5. Carpet Weaving
Carpet weaving is also an important craft in India. The origin of carpet weaving dates back to the 15th century. It was locally known as ‘kal baffi’. It is said that Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin brought carpet weavers from Persia and central Asia into Kashmir to train the local inhabitants. And soon enough, it attained a high degree of perfection.
In India, the largest carpet-weaving industries are in Uttar Pradesh. The city Bhadohi houses around 500 carpet manufacturing factories, which makes it home to leading hand-knotted carpet-weaving hubs in South Asia.
Singhvi Exports are leading manufacturers, exporters, and suppliers of floor carpets, embroidered carpets, printed carpets, jute carpets, Indian carpets, handloom carpets, and more. Their long-lasting products are known for being made with high-grade material, rich designs, expert craftsmanship, and a wide range of colours.
On the whole, India is bestowed with unique handicrafts from each corner that add charm to their state and country as a whole. This Vishwakarma Puja in 2018, we take a moment to appreciate these craftsmen who have given a name and recognition to our country with their perseverance, hard work, and dedication. They play a great role in preserving our Indian culture and heritage. A salute!
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