It was shah jahan who introduced the italian craft of pietra dura- the inlaying of semi- precious stones into marble, which still thrives in agra, the city of the taj mahal. The craftsmen decorate marble plates, wall-plaques, boxes and bowls, which are mostly made beside the makrana quarries of rajasthan. The work is extremely taxing. Every petal, section of leaf or every stamen is made from a separate stone. The craftsman breaks off a fragment of thinly carved stone and proceeds to shape it, holding it against the appropriate brass template. He applies it to the vertical edge of a vertical wheel operated by a bow (it’s leather thong looped around an axle ) , and grinds the stone fragment down to match the brass shape. The pieces of leaf are often assembled , stuck together with lacquer before it is shaped. Flowers are always worked petal by petal, and can have from ten to a hundred parts. The stones used include deep blue afghani lapis lazuli, green african malachite, red carnelian from gujarat and iranian turquoise along with bengali mother of pearl.
The pieces are laid upon the surface to be decorated, and their outlines traced onto it with a fine scribe. The segments of each element of the design are then piled separately on a tray and the craftsman cuts out the recesses with a small chisel, using a little iron bar as a mallet. When complete, these are filled with a light cement that melts when the surface is heated, and before it sets again the fragments are eased into place. Only plant stems, delicate and vulnerable, are shaped after their recesses have been cut. Finally, the surface is burnished with emery stone and jeweler’s polishing powder.
Bell metal bastar craft
In bastar, in madhya pradesh, the traditional method of casting is another variant of the lost wax process. The core of the figure is made of a mixture of sand and clay covered with a fine clay so that details can be clearly formed. When the figure is completed beeswax is squeezed through a syringe, producing a thread of wax to be wound around the figure until it is completely covered. The wax is then smoothed over.
On this smooth surface the craftsman shapes the clothing, decoration and jewelry using more threads of wax, and it is these that give the characteristic appearance of bastar figures. Another layer of clay is applied and allowed to dry. Two openings are left in the casing. The mould is placed near a fire so that the wax melts and drains out.the metal used for casting is bell metal, an alloy of four parts copper to one part tin. The metal is poured through a hole and it fills the cavity left by the wax.
Brass, as currently defined, is an alloy of two parts copper to one of zinc.uttar pradesh, has long been the most significant state in the production of brassware, where the city of moradabad has now superseded varanasi as the centre of this craft.most of the brass articles are sand-cast.
A small brass vase may be cast in four parts-the neck, the centre as two hemispheres, and the base. The boxes are either cylindrical or rectangular. A man sits setting out little inverted egg-cup-shaped pieces on a metal sheet and within a rectangular frame. These are a single section of a small vase. He then pours a mixture of damp sand and ash around and over the pieces to be copied and beats it firmly so that only the bottom tips of the pieces project above the surface. Clean white sand is then spread over the surface. The next rectangular section of the box is fitted above the first and an equal number of pieces of the next section of the vessel set out, each vase touching the projecting part of one of the lower group. The same sand mixture is poured in and around these and duly beaten down. Now the box must be opened gently and each brass object removed without disturbing its sand cast. It is then inverted and the other layer of pieces removed. The box is closed with care and tilted so that the spout of the bottom section becomes a slot in the upper part of the top. Into this the molten metal is poured, channels in the sand allowing it to flow easily into each mould. It sets immediately, the box is opened and the contents tipped out; the sand will be damped and reused. The new brass sections are put to one side, to be brazed together at another unit.
Ragamala means garland of melody or mode. It refers to a particular type of miniature painting in which poems dealing with musical sentiments are illustrated by representations of specific human situations. Through the verbal imagery of a poem, the content of the musical form ( raga ) was made more exact and the painting in turn made this imagery visible.
A raga, the classical indian musical mode, literally means something that colours, that imbues the mind with a definite feeling, passion or emotion. There are six basic male ragas with five wives or raginis each accounting for the total of thirty six fundamental modes in north indian music. Each raga is further associated with a particular season and time of day. Ragas are always improvised by the performing musician from a limited number of basic notes directly related to the emotional content of the music. In order to understand this emotional content the performer looked to ragmala verses and paintings to reveal the distinct flavour and emotional quality of the music. Such paintings are unique in the world of art. It is only in india that painting, poetry and music come together.
The earlier ragmala paintings subject is a feminine mode which suggests longing for the missing lover.
Todi ragini, a feminine musical mode of the rainy season, indicated by the narrow band of rain clouds boiling across the top of the picture. It appears that the youthful todi has attracted deer out of the forest with the sweet sounds of her vina but their presence only adds to her feelings of loneliness at being separated from her beloved during the rains.
On the paper which had been carefully burnished, the preliminary drawing was made with red ink- which after necessary corrections was restated in black. Then the sheet was coated with a thin wash of white pigment. On this surface with gouache colours ( a mixture of gum and paint ) the actual miniature was painted. Finally gold was placed where necessary and the complete miniature was burnished again
Among the popular literary works profusely illustrated in the early rajasthani styles were the bhagavata purana, the gita govinda, the chaurapanchasika, the rasikapriya and the baramasas
baramasas are descriptions of the various seasons of the year.
the bhagavata purana deals with the multiple aspects of vishnu and tells the symbolic life story of krishna from his birth in mathura and his adventures as a herdsman in gokul through a second phase as a prince ruling in the city of dwarka.
gita govinda – written by a 12th century bengali court poet jayadeva was a favourite with rajasthani painters because it deals exclusively with the romantic exploits of radha and krishna in a pastoral setting. Radha, one of the loveliest of all gopis or herdswomen, was a married woman who was transfixed by a passionate obsession for krishna and rejected her husband for him. The allegory is clear : the adoring radha represents the soul while krishna is god and together they represent the ecstatic reunion of man’s soul with the godhead.
chaurapanchasika was also composed by a court poet bilhana, in kashmir in the 11th century. It is a group of 54 love lyrics reputedly composed by the poet as he was led to execution for falling in love with his ward, a princess. The king was so moved that he pardoned him and granted him his daughter’s hand in marriage.
The tradition of decorated textiles is as rich as the woven one, with a vast range of hand block prints, tie-dyed fabrics and embroideries. Entire communities are engaged in carving wooden blocks, while another section of artisans prepare the dye and do the printing.
Printing is done on low tables, with the printer sitting cross-legged at it. Those who print over large surfaces prefer to stand at waist-high tables. Work is carried out in court-yards, verandahs and in open or closed worksheds, depending on the circumstances of the block printer. The colours are prepared from chemicals or vegetable dyes and poured into a small square trough. Folds of jute or other such absorbent fabric are immersed into the liquid colour and a wire mesh netting placed over it. This releases a controlled amount of colour onto the block., in the manner of a sponge. In the resist printing method, the patterned area is demarcated either by hand , with brushes, sticks or blocks dipped in a non porous substance such as wax or clay mixed with resin. The cloth when dipped in dye accepts the colour over all the areas left uncovered by the resist substance. The cloth is washed in hot water to remove the wax or clay. On this new surface, further printing is done with blocks. In this manner, specific outlines and patterns are highlighted against the contrast colour. Discharge printing and alizarine printing are other block printing processes.
Rajasthan and gujarat excel in the use of vegetable colours. Indigo blue, madder-red, ochre and iron black are typical rural colours. Barmer and jaipur in rajasthan, farrukhabad and lucknow in uttar pradesh, ahmedabad and dhamadka in gujarat are the more prominent printing centre of the north.
In south india the kalamkari of machlipatnam is a combination print and hand painting. The cloth is bleached and soaked in a myrobalam solution, then printed with blocks in black or red and painted in with a brush.
bidri art originated in iraq about 800 years ago. It was then known as sanat – e – arabia. Arab merchants popularized this art in bidar in india around 1190 a. D. The name of the art thus changed to bidri work in india.
The basic material of bidriware is an alloy of zinc and copper in the proportion 16: 1.
upon this alloy artistic designs in pure silver are inlaid.
designs are engraved into the bidri pieces with small chisels.
into these chiseled grooves the craftsman carefully hammers pure silver in the form of fine wire or flat sheeting.
after the inlay work is completed the article is rigorously filed smooth again.in the final step to make the surface permanently black a particular type of soil found in the inner depths of ruins which are three hundred years old,in buildings where neither sunlight nor rain has fallen for hundreds of years.
this soil when mixed with ammonium chloride and water produces a very special paste which is rubbed onto yhe heated bidri article.
the paste darkens the body of the piece but has no effect on the silver inlay.
with proper maintenance bidri items can be kept bright and beautiful indefinitely.
rub pure vegetable oil over the surface.
water will not harm bidri but soap, silver polish and salt should be avoided.
Palm leaf engravings
The talapatrachitras or the palm leaf engravings consist of frozen linear drawing as illustrations of manuscripts. In these engravings, colours are muted and play a very minor part. Where colours are at all applied, they are just painted either to emphasize the inscriptions, or to fill up blank space. In orissa, manuscripts were written on palm leaves even during the mughal period when the paper was freely available. In the limited space of the oblong palm leaf with a small width, human figures completed with details of hair style and dress, animals, flowers and trees are executed with great precision and beauty, the tool of this art is a sharp style and it needs a remarkably steady hand to be able to wield this tool on thin strip of leaf. These talapatachitras have an affinity with the rajasthani miniatures both in the treatment, composition and the colour scheme.
etching and painting on palm leaf is one of the most ancient craft forms not only in orissa but also in the whole country. The birth of this art form, marks the beginning of the dissemination of written words and is therefore, closely intertwined with the literary traditions of the country. While palm-leaf inscriptions and paintings are available in several states of india, it is in orissa that the craft reached perfection and great excellence. The numerous illustrated manuscripts in the collection of the orissa state museum embody the rich artistic traditions of the state. This tradition continues even to-day and thrives among the handicrafts artisans of the state particularly in the districts of puri and cuttack.
The art form essentially consists of inscribing letters and artistic designs on palm-leaf, mostly cut into standard sizes. While for manuscripts the leaves are cut in rectangular sizes, held together with two wooden plank covers stringed through a hole in the centre, for paintings the leaves are stitched vertically and folded, like a bellow. However, instances of cutting the leaves into fancy shapes like balls strung into a garland or leaves cut into shapes of animals and other objects are also not wanting. The process of preparing the palm-leaf to make it ready for etching is quite elaborate and time taking. The unripe leaves of the palm tree are first cut into the required shape and are sun dried. However, the leaves are not to be exposed to intense heat and should not be completely dried. Once this initial preparation is complete, the semi-dried leaves are buried in muddy swamps and left there for four to five days for a further seasoning. After these are retrieved and washed they are once again dried, but this time they are air dried, not being exposed to sun. After this, these dried leaves are kept inside the grain stores and put inside the paddy heaps. This treatment is the final seasoning of the leaves which makes them insect proof and stiff. These seasoned leaves are then stitched or stringed together as per the need. The etching whether of words or of artistic designs is done with the help of an iron stylus. Great concentration and planning is required before any design can be engraved as no alteration is possible on account of the very nature of the material. After the etching is complete the leaf is rubbed with a paste made of bean leaves, charcoal made of burnt coconut shells, til oil and turmeric. The leaves are then wiped with a piece of cloth and the paste deposited in etched portion of the palm-leaves reveals prominently the engraved design. For painting the palm-leaves, vegetable and mineral colours are used.
While writing of texts, including illustrated texts, was popular and widespread in the ancient times, after the discovery of paper and printing this has become more or loess extinct. However, it is worth while mentioning here that the rich collection of the orissa state museum contains a large number of illustrated texts both plain and painted of which the more prominent ones are jayadeva's sri gita govinda, bidagdha madhaba of rupa goswamy, amaru sataka of amaruka and ushavilasa of sishu sankar das. The themes of these manuscripts are mostly the love episodes of radha and krishna as well as other mythical and legendary incidents. The paintings and drawings also present excellent scenes of nature.
As the craft is practised mostly large drawings are made on the rectangular palm leaves stitched together vertically. The major motifs are drawn from the rich legends, myths and folk-lore of the state. The various gods and goddesses from the hindu pantheon are represented either singly or in groups more prominent of these being radha and krishna, durga, ganesha and saraswati. In larger illustrations the entire story of bhagabata or krishnalila, or ramayana and mahabharata are presented while in smaller ones, single episodes are presented. In many ways the traditions followed for palm leaf etching are very much akin to patta paintings. The figures are highly stylised and embody the traditional concept of beauty. The figures usually have a sharp pointed nose, long eyes and well-proportioned bodies. The figures are usually represented in profile.
Mithila (madhubani) painting
many brahmin and kayasth women of madhubani in darbhanga district of bihar are very accomplished in decorating houses for marriages and feasts with bright, lively deities usually krishna and radha. The form of each figure is a highly stylized profile of the face and feet while the body often faces the viewe. Characteristically the outlines are drawn as a double line with diagonal hatching between them. During the bihar famine of 1964-65 some of these women began to reproduce their pictures on hand made paper .at home the painters use the frayed end of a piece of bamboo twig or rag on a stick as a brush. The colours are obtained from tree bark, leaves and flowers.
E. G. Rust/ orange/ dark brown from pipal tree bark
green from neem leaves, bitter gourd skin or okra leaves.
Thangka, a tibetan word, means ‘ something rolled up ’ ; others say it is derived from the tibetan word , thang-yig or written record. It is a highly precise art form in which each figure , symbol, color, and diagram has a special meaning.
First a cotton canvas is prepared by stretching it on a wooden frame, then smearing it with yak leather glue ( made by boiling yak skin ) and vigorously rubbing it with a stone or conch shell until smooth and shiny. The artist then sketches in the outlines of the divine images and the basic overall design . The colours used are natural gouache pigments all mixed by hand in a mortar and pestle . The colours are obtained from vegetable dyes, coloured stones, earth and clay.
Thangkas first appeared in tibet in the 10th century and became an integral part of buddhism. They serve as vital aids in practising meditation. They are also carried in religious processions, used to illustrate sermons, hung as temple banners and adorn family shrines.
Traditional subjects pictured in a thangka over the centuries feature a central deity chosen from the buddhist pantheon- a gentle benign one or a fearsome terror-inspiring one- surrounded by profuse backgrounds of aureole-crowned bodhisatvas, coteries of lively acolytes, mythical beasts, ornate temples, stylised snow-capped mountains, woolly clouds and radiant flowers.
Painted marble plates
Rajasthan is famous for the variety and styles of miniature paintings. The marble plates are hand painted in vibrant oil colours and embossed with real gold. They are lacquered for further protection. There are various themes of gods godesses, ladies, birds and royal court scenes.
Black pottery of manipur
the pottery is native to the ukhrul district of manipur and are carried out by local inhabitants (including a sizeable thangkul naga population). Unlike other indian states, in manipur this craft is pursued by both men and women. The pottery is purely functional and mainly black in colour. A major ingredient of this black ware pottery is hard serpent nine rock, which needs to be crushed and mixed with a few other ingredients including clay to mould into pots, traditionally used for cooking. The most incredible aspect is that there is no potter's wheel. The artisans use basic bamboo implements and the appropriate movements of their body to give shape to their creations. The black pottery items include cups, vases, cooking utensils. It is said that the meat cooked in these pots tastes heavenly.
The blackware pottery demonstrates how deeply traditional crafts are linked with nature. Each ingredient — the rock, the clay — is obtained from the immediate environment. A very natural, non-mechanised process completes the process leading to the final products. The tools used, are made of bamboo; the pots are moulded on logs of wood or stone slabs - all natural products.
Our store has been in the handicraft business for over 25 years and the store has been with our family for over 50 years.
We have found that most customers feel that a discount should be given on the listed prices. Our reasons for a fixed price policy
1.all items are labelled. Our prices can be checked with other stores.
2. We have a reasonable profit margin so there is no scope for any reduction
3.remember when you receive a discount it will never be at the cost of the shopowner – it will be added onto the price.
4.we purchase our crafts directly from master craftsmen ( many of them national award winners) and pay them a fair price.
Tanjore painting or tanjavur painting is a form of art developed in the southern part of india in a place called tanjore or tanjavur.
About 350 km south of chennai in tamil nadu, tanjore, once capital of the chola empire, was ruled by the marathas in the 17th century. The maratha rulers encouraged this art in tanjore. In mysore the art was patronized by maharaja mummadi krishnarajendra wodeyar
This form of art is unique. It uses a lot of precious stones and pure gold foils to fill in as ornaments and clothing of the figurines, mostly depicting hindu mythology gods like shiva, vishnu, lakshmi, parvathi, krishna, ganesh and others. These paintings are in great demand for decorating the living room and puja or prayer room of many.
The art has undergone quite a bit of change, not in the style of the painting, but in the use of raw material for preparing the board and the use of painting material as well as the use of synthetic material in place of precious stones.
The use of pure gold foil of 22/ 24 carat continues and the life of such paintings is long if done and preserved in a correct manner.
There are seven steps to making a tanjore painting
Step 1. Preparing the board to make the painting.
Step 2 sketching the figure and fixing the stones.
Step 3 filling around the stone work with a thin mix of gum and chalk powder.
Inlay and relief work around the stone setting with a thicker mix.
Step 4 cleaning the work and fixing the gold foil over the stones and relief work.
Step 5 cutting the gold foil to expose the stone work.
Step 6 painting the figures and the background
step 7 checking for flaws, correcting and fixing the glass and frame.
Jewel carpets use the exceptional art of zardozi. Zar means gold and dozi is embroidery.zardozi combines the dexterity of embroidery with dazzling metal thread and the use of semi precious stones giving the embroidered work a three dimensional effect. Zardozi artisans are highly skilled and the skill is acquired after years of practice usually training taking place within a family. This art has thrived from mughal times and received the patronage of kings and royal families whose treasures usually included fine zardozi work in clothing and wall tapestry. Zardozi adorned the costumes of the court, wall hangings, scabbards, regal side walls of tents and the rich trappings of royal elephants and horses. Intricate patterns traced in gold and silver studded with semi-precious stones, thousands in numbers-depending upon the size and design, like jade, seed pearls, onyx, corals, lapis, turquoise, malachite, moonstone, tiger-eye etc. Are meticulously crafted and fixed in gold-like and/or silken threads, to produce a fine piece of embroidered art. Beautified with multicolored jewels in alluring designs, these charming jewel carpets are used as wall hangings or throws or runners.
Zardozi art reached its zenith in the rule of emperor akbar. During the rule of emperor aurangzeb the royal patronage extended to craftsmen was stopped. Many craftsmen left delhi to seek work in the courts of rajasthan and punjab. But during the middle of the 20th century the art was revived along with many other forms of embroidery
There is a six step production in the making of these fine carpets mainly done by skilled craftsmen from agra, india where the skill is a family tradition passed from father to son. The base material is velvet strengthened by canvas and it needs strength and dexterity to embroider these.