The Magic of 'Pata Chitra'...
Come to think of it, the winter season is famous for something, which is the biggest form of celebration in an Indian family, the marriage function. I do not understand the nitty gritty about why only this part of the year, but know for a fact that from May to July and again from November to February of the calendar, is the season for marriage functions in India. All I know is that these months are considered auspicious for the event.
A couple of months back my elder brother got married and like a similar function in any part of India, it was marked by a riot of colors, get-together of relatives and friends from within the country and abroad, gossip among the guests, sumptuous food, glittery jewelery, shimmering attires, and lots of naach, gaana dancing to the tunes of the latest Bollywood hits.
But to add a paaka desi-flavor to all these, to showcase something that is authentic and to patronize a dying art form, my maa had her own charter. She had planned for miniature paintings to be done on few walls of the house. She had contacted the artists and made the entire blueprint for her project from planning to its execution.
The art form that was followed is from the school of 'Pata Chitra'. 'Pata' in Sanskrit means piece of cloth and 'Chitra' means painting or picture. This art form is defined by its use of rich colors made out of vegetables and mineral extracts, its portrayal of pure and simple themes, depicting a combination of folk and classical elements and is not limited to religious themes.
In the picture below, the theme is that of a marriage and it is painted in the style of an oleograph on the wall. But as you can see, there is deviation from the basics here, synthetic paints are used, unlike the colors made out of vegetables and mineral extracts.
The digression from the fundamentals was done because the base for the painting was not a piece of cloth but a concrete wall.
The colors are bright and possess a peculiar charm, very distinct and a remarkably original art form. As I was writing this post, it also reminded me of an excellent project work that one of my friends had done, while he was a Product Design student at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. He had spent close to one and a half months in a village, Raghurajpur where artisans create sheer poetry on pieces of treated cloth or dried palm leaves or paper and learnt the fine nuances of this art form. More about Raghurajpur here.
The 'kolam' on the floor of the marriage 'mandap'(platform) was also done by the same artists who did the work on walls.
Do not miss a very interesting article by Raji on 'The Kolam Festival' at the Mylapore festival.
But what is hurting is that these timeless art forms are loosing their value with the advent of modernity. To cite an example, take the case of 'Pata Chitra', the entire process starting from the design to the final output is managed manually by artisans. It's the creation of their deft fingers and immeasurable imagination, an art form whose intricacies are passed from one generation to another. But duplicates of such paintings are made these days using modern printing capabilities. So the artists feel their authentic creations do not have as big an audience as for faux products. Many artisans leave the villages to find menial jobs in cities and towns to make a living. Sad but true.
Now, I know why my maa wanted those paintings, it was to showcase the creativity of the bunch of smart artisans, who need support. Don't you endorse, her thinking?
Check the pics here, looks better against a black background.
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