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Madhumita Nandi

Much of the contemporary resurgence of Usta can be seen in decor items such as clocks and mirrors

The artform is kept alive by generations of artists, such as Jamil Usta, grandson of renowned artist Hisam-ud-din Usta.

The unique gold embossing and magnificent paintings from the heydays of the art form can still be seen in palaces and havelis inside Junagadh fort.

Traditionally, vegetable dyes were used, though artists today often use more easily available pigments.

Much of the contemporary resurgence of Usta can be seen in decor items such as clocks and mirrors.

Usta designs are first perfected on paper, and then traced onto the surface using indigo or black coal powder.

Kalyan Yasaswi

Toys also draw inspiration from local wildlife.

The craft of wooden toy making originated under the reign of Tipu Sultan. Toys such as these figurines of royal musicians are a nod to this past.

A craftsman carefully sands a toy for smoothness. Hours are spent perfecting every single toy that goes out of the workshop, to ensure that they are safe for children to play with.

Cylindrical wooden blocks, freshly carved on the lathe.

The rocking horse is perhaps the most famous toy made in Channaptna. This classic has survived the test of time and is still very popular among children.

Like the toy soldiers, these figures dressed in traditional attire are a representation of historical and contemporary heritage, as well as toys for play.

SUPRIYA KANTAK

The famous Jagannath temple at Puri, where Patachitra originated.

Everyone in Raghurajpur is an artist and practitioner of Patachitra. Villagers typically sit in the doorways of their homes where there is plenty of natural light.

The bright colours used, typically made from natural dyes, are also characteristic of the art form.

Patachitra is easily recognised by the unique forms, and division of the canvas into panels.

The limited palette of traditional Patachitra has gradually expanded to use more colours, just as the surfaces it adorns have changed to include decorative items sculpted out of wood, coconut shells, and betel nuts.

SUKRIT NAGARAJ

The word Godna is derived from gehna or jewellery, and these tattoos are usually made on parts of the body where jewellery is worn, such as the ankles, toes, fingers, wrists, palms, thighs, and breasts. It is believed that this jewellery will endure till the end of life, and even beyond it. Tattoos have a special significance for women, and are made once a girl hits puberty, normally by female artists. However, Godna tattoos are not restricted to women alone, men also wear them, typically tattoo

To keep the art alive, women of the village have begun to draw these motifs onto sarees, amongst other things, creating yet another art form that they can adorn.

Ram Keli, is widely recognised as one of the leading Godna artists in the region, and is one of a small group of women responsible for reviving the art form by transferring the tattoo designs on to sarees, bedsheets, and other merchandise.

The artist is drawing an imaginary line from her right to left, creating the correct distance and alignment between two motifs just as she would while making a tattoo. The art is heavily dependent on the artist’s skill and steadiness of hand, no rulers or geometric devices are used, and the inks are derived from the flowers of a tree that grows plentifully in the region.

A single saree can take from 7 days to a month to complete, and when sold, can fetch as much as Rs 10,000.

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Showcase 30 Jan 2016

Colour Journey: Quests for colour

Colour Journey travels across India, exploring the uniquely Indian colours, textures, and patterns across the country. Based on exclusive Asian Paints research, the series presents a snapshot of each region, through the eyes of a professional photographer, who captures the medley of colours and crafts which contribute to a unique colour palette. In this season, we explore the varied colours that characterise some of India’s most remarkable handicraft traditions

BIKANER - USTA

Photographer: Madhumita Nandi
Kolkata-based advertising professional, who has worked with various NGOs and newspapers as a documentary photographer since 2011. 

Madhumita Nandi

Much of the contemporary resurgence of Usta can be seen in decor items such as clocks and mirrors

Origins and History Of Usta

Bikaner is the fifth largest city of Rajasthan, founded by Rao Bika in 1486. During the Mughal period, architecture flourished in Bikaner and sparked the arrival of Usta artisans to perform design work on the Anup Mahal, Karan Mahal, and Phool Mahal of Junagarh Fort.

Usta art, derived from the Persian word Ustad, which means expert of a particular art, is a general term used to signify Naqqashi and Manoti-forms of miniature painting influenced by Persian art, that flourished in the late-16th to mid-19th century in Bikaner, Rajasthan.

Materials, Process and Technique 

Usta artwork is a multi-stage process, that begins with priming and measurement, followed by delicately etching designs on canvas, into which the colours are deposited. Further embossing involves use of a paste prepared by mixing pot clay powder, gum, jaggery, and naushadar (ammonium chloride) to prepare a base on which gold foils are laid. Canvases include walls, ceilings, glass, wood, marble, as well as artefacts made of camel leather. 

The unique gold embossing and magnificent paintings from the heydays of the art form can still be seen in palaces and havelis inside Junagadh fort.

Contemporary Use 

Modern instances make use of Arabic, Persian, and Urdu calligraphy on wooden photo frames, bottles, marble items, camel leather lampshades, and pouches for personal items. Usta Art is also featured at many havelis and heritage hotels. 

 

RAGHURAJPUR - PATACHITRA

Photographer: Supriya Kantak
Once a full-time journalist, she now works as a freelance photographer, with her photographs being featured in various publications. 

SUPRIYA KANTAK

The famous Jagannath temple at Puri, where Patachitra originated.

Origins and History of Patachitra

Raghurajpur is a heritage crafts village in Puri, Odisha. It is best known for the dance form Odissi and the Jagannath Temple, adorned with scroll paintings that depict Indian mythology through the art of Patachitra. In the Sanskrit language, patta means cloth and chitra means picture. The subject matter of Patachitra is mostly mythological, religious stories and folk lore dating back to the 5th century BC. The attire of characters has Mughal influences. Artisans are called Chitrakaras. The oldest instances of Patta paintings can be found in the Lord Jagannath shrine. However, the art form may date back to earlier times.

Materials, Process and Technique 

Patachitra primarily uses red, yellow, indigo, black, and white colours. Paint brushes are made from the hair of domestic animals. Paintings are done on small strips of cotton cloth. The canvas is coated with a mixture of chalk and gum made from tamarind seeds, that gives it a leathery finish once dried and polished. Painting is then done using vegetable, earth and stone dyes, followed by varnishing. Finally, the back of the canvas is baked against a fireplace.

Patachitra is easily recognised by the unique forms, and division of the canvas into panels.

Contemporary Use 

Today, paintings of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Maa Subhadra in colours black, white and yellow respectively are sold as Yatri Patti (traveler-painting) in large numbers to the pilgrims coming to Puri, as a souvenir for their visit to Puri Dham. 

 

SURGUJA - GODNA

Photographer: Sukrit Nagaraj
A former graphic designer and an ad professional, Sukrit soon developed a liking for photography, indulging in everything from food photography to music events, travel and fashion. 

SUKRIT NAGARAJ

The word Godna is derived from gehna or jewellery, and these tattoos are usually made on parts of the body where jewellery is worn, such as the ankles, toes, fingers, wrists, palms, thighs, and breasts. It is believed that this jewellery will endure till the end of life, and even beyond it. Tattoos have a special significance for women, and are made once a girl hits puberty, normally by female artists. However, Godna tattoos are not restricted to women alone, men also wear them, typically tattoo

Origins and History of Godna

Surguja is a district of Chhattisgarh inhabited by various tribes, most notably, the Pando and the Korwa (who believe they are members of the Pandav and the Kaurav clans of the Mahabharata). The Baigas are another tribe of the region, and the women of this tribe practice the art of Godna (tattooing). 

Godna art is practiced mainly by Baiga women, who feel a sense of pride and completeness upon being tattooed. The tattoos are considered eternal markings that they will take to the grave and beyond. The first tattoo is generally applied on the forehead. The final tattoo, called Chhati Godai, is done on the chest of a woman after she delivers a child.

Materials, Process and Technique 

Godna art is practiced in the forest, away from settlements, during the winters. Three needles are tied together tightly and patterns are etched on the skin without the use of rulers or guides. The tattoos are inked using kajal or dyes from specific flowers mixed in mitti ka tel (kerosene). It takes eight days for the skin to heal, with routine application of a herb called Raijal. 

A single saree can take from 7 days to a month to complete, and when sold, can fetch as much as Rs 10,000.

Contemporary Use 

As the art fades away due to unwilling subjects and the costs associated with getting Godna tattoos from artists, several leading women of the area have modified the art form to revive it. Ram Keli, one of the most popular Godna artists of Surguja paints motifs of the art form on quilts, blankets, and rugs. These are popular souvenir items among tourists. 

 

CHANNAPATNA — CHANNAPATNA

Photographer: Kalyan Yasaswi
This renowned lifestyle photographer has a keen eye for beautiful spectacles in fashion, portraiture, weddings, and people. He has covered 150+ assignments in over 20 countries. 

Kalyan Yasaswi

Toys also draw inspiration from local wildlife.

Origins and History Of Channapatna

Channapatna is a city in Karnataka, known as Gombegala Ooru, meaning town of toys, because of its famous Channapatna Toys. Traditionally, the toys were made of locally available ivory-wood (Wrightia tinctoria tree). The toy making industry is now supported by the Karnataka Handloom Development Corporation Ltd.

The origins of Channapatna Toys can be traced back to the reign of Tipu Sultan, who invited artisans from Persia to train local artisans in the making of wooden toys. Over time, the art form has seen an increase in the use of machinery in the production process.

Materials, Process and Technique

The toy-making process has multiple stages —procuring wood, seasoning it, cutting out desired shapes, pruning, carving the toys, applying colours and finally polishing the finished product. Only vegetable dyes are used to ensure that the toys are safe for children.

The craft of wooden toy making originated under the reign of Tipu Sultan. Toys such as these figurines of royal musicians are a nod to this past.

The rocking horse is perhaps the most famous toy made in Channaptna. This classic has survived the test of time and is still very popular among children.

Contemporary Use 

Over time, the materials used in Channapatna Toys have evolved from the earlier use of only ivory-wood, to other woods, like rubber, sycamore, cedar, pine, and teak. Today, various animals and objects are depicted through toys, like rocking horses, that appeal to modern customers.

To discover more content, and follow along with past editions of Colour Journey, visit www.asianpaints.com/colourjourney