Phulkari art from Punjab-India

From the land of the Punjab come the beauteous phulkaris. With their delicate and dense patterning, the creations are closely associated with many festivals and rituals.


phulkari artA robust joie de vivre! Speak of Punjab and the canvas instantly springs to life – hard working people who celebrate their festivals with equal zest. A canvas which is as colourful as the art of phulkari.

in social and ceremonial gatherings, the piece de resistance of a woman’s attire is her phulkari, an embroidered length of cloth that may be draped as a shawl or head-cover. The term phulkari stems from phul, which means flower, and kari, which means work. So the name translates as flower making. The embroidery done with untwisted floss silk threads simulates the effect of brilliant, coloured flowers. The large drape of the phulkari, upto about 50 inches by 100 inches is spangled with motifs. Often detailed borders and end-panels define the textlile. Continue reading Phulkari art from Punjab-India

Pithoro Paintings-Tribal ritual paintings from Gujarat-India

The origins of Pithoro are obscure but as some scholars have suggested, it may have its roots in the early Aryan period.

Pithoro painting is not done for any decorative or ornamental purpose. Pithoro, or ‘Babo Pithoro’ as the tribals would call it, is an important deity in a region where several deities are worshipped. If someone, especially a young child or an unmarried girl is unwell or domestic animals are affected by an epidemic or if the land is not yielding enough- all believed to be signs of god’s anger or displeasure-the head of the family vows to provide a proper, respectable abode to Pithoro in his own home. He therefore gets Pithoro painted (or repainted, if there already is one) on the main wall, if and when he can afford the high cost involved. The main wall of the house is repaired or sometimes even reconstructed specially for Pithoro. Then, daily-for seven days-the wall surface is given a coating of plaster made from clay and dung. This is done by kumarikas or unmarried girls only The adjoining side walls are also replastered along with the main wall. Continue reading Pithoro Paintings-Tribal ritual paintings from Gujarat-India

Pattachitra Paintings of Bengal

Unique art forms, novel styles of craft, and very special artisans – all these come together to create the remarkable Bengali Patta chitra.

Bengal has a rich folk tradition, product of the innovative resourcefulness of her people. Bengali artists developed different arts and crafts at different stages in history, both for recreation and livelihood. One of the outstanding forms of traditional folk art is scroll painting or patta chitra which emerged and flourished all over Bengal in the late medieval period and continues to flourish even today. Its survival has been helped by its wonderful capacity to blend tradition with changes in taste and fashion. Continue reading Pattachitra Paintings of Bengal

Phad Paintings in Rajasthan-India

R ajasthan the land of colours is known for Phad painting, which is done on cloth. This type of painting is mainly found in the Bhilwara district. The main theme of these paintings is the depiction of local deities and their stories, and legends of erstwhile local rulers. Phad is a type of scroll painting. These paintings are created while using bright and subtle colours. The paintings depicting exploits of local deities are often carried from place to place and are accompanied by traditional singers, who narrate the theme depicted on the scrolls. The outlines of the paintings are first drawn in block and later filled with colours. Rajasthan is also known for Pichwais, which are paintings made on cloth. Pichwais are more refined and detailed than Phads. They are created and used as backdrops in the Shrinathji temple at Nathdwara and in other Krishna temples. The main theme of these paintings is Shrinathji and his exploits. Pichwais are painted, printed with hand blocks, woven, embroidered or decorated in appliqué. Continue reading Phad Paintings in Rajasthan-India

Kalamkari art of South Eastern India

The Coromandel Coast of India was historically the source of some of the most beautifully coloured and delicately worked cotton fabrics. Here mordants, resists and brushes or pens were traditionally applied and used to produce figurative and floral designs of great fineness. Kalam is a Persian word meaning pen and kari means work. This kalam or pen is a stick of bamboo or date palm, which has a tapered point. This point is slit to about l”, above which there is a round ball of wool that serves as a reservoir for ink. The kalam is dipped in the ink and the wool fabric is pressed while applying the paint on the fabric. Continue reading Kalamkari art of South Eastern India

Tanjore Art of India

The Tanjore School – This form is a grand admixture of Craft and Art. It is dominated by an iconic style that lays stress on pure colours and untinged mixtures. Special care is laid on ornamentation and background architectural frames which are slightly raised and yet relieved by the use of special paste and wrapped in ‘gold leaf’ after setting in stones of multiple hues. The principal figures in the paintings are Gods and Goddesses depicted in bold and larger than life proportions. Krishna in his many facets is a favourite as is the enigmatic Ganesha along with the bountiful Lakshmi and the erudite Saraswati. Depictions of Ranganatha, Shiva, Rama and other deities are fewer but with greater grandeur and complexity. Only the most talented and mature master artists can do justice to such intricate and complex compositions. These are much sought after by art collectors. Continue reading Tanjore Art of India

The history and technique of Batik Art

The term Batik is an Indonesian-Malay word (Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malay are the official languages of Indonesia and Malaysia and are linguistically similar). Batik has come to be used as a generic term which refers to the process of dyeing fabric by making use of a resist technique; covering areas of cloth with a dye-resistant substance to prevent them absorbing colors. The technique is thought to be over a thousand years old and historical evidence demonstrates that cloth decorated with this resist technique was in use in the early centuries AD in Africa, the Middle East and in several places in Asia. Although there is no sure explanation as to where batik first was invented, many observers believe that it was brought to Asia by travelers from the Indian subcontinent. Continue reading The history and technique of Batik Art

Madhubani Paintings of India

E xclusively the domain of women, the art of Madhubani painting has been handed down from one generation to another. Translated, Madhubani literally means ‘a forest of honey’. The art flourished in the villages around Madhubani in the Mithila region of north Bihar near the Indo-Nepal border. This region has historical and religious importance as Mahavir, Buddha and Lord Rama’s wife Sita, are all believed to have been born here. Continue reading Madhubani Paintings of India