NEEDLE ART - Thread of life
Have you ever stumbled across an art form that inspires
a sense of freedom? This
is Banjara Embroidery for you.
The Banjara tribe has been an inseparable part of the
Telangana region. Their needlework has a style
of its own that is distinct from the embroidery work
of the Banjaras from Gujarat and the Kutch
The agile fingers of the Banjara womenfolk move delicately
tracing the intricate threadwork.
Different patterns, geometric combinations and motifs
are sewed with various stitches like chain stitch, long
stitch and short stitch. This embroidery is noted for
its originality and elegance. The use of mirrors, vibrant
colours, shells and beads create an ensemble that is
kaleidoscopic and reflects a sense of gay abandon that
is so characteristic of the Banjaras.
The Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh is trying
its best to promote and nourish the craft by improving
the quality and standard of work. The government is
also assisting the tribe in procuring better raw material.
KALAMKARI - Different Strokes
One has heard of putting pen on paper, but pen on cloth?
that's exactly what the exquisiteness of the Kalamkari
Practiced widely in villages in and around Machilipatnam,
in coastal Andhra Pradesh, this intricate
work bears a close affinity with Persian sources.
An activity that requires many hands, Kalamkari is executed
with a kalam (pen) or a brush. It involves freehand
drawing and application of colours with the brush. The
dyes used are drawn from natural sources like the Madder
roots and other dye roots.
In these villages, Kalamkari entails the use of blocks
to create a myriad of designs. In fact, there are craftsmen,
who make a living out of only selling
As a rule, this art form is carried out only on cotton
cloth. The fabric is first washed in water and dried
for two hours. Once dry, it is soaked in water mixed
with myrobalm (karakkai) powder and buffalo
milk. Once again it is laid out in the sun to dry.
Once dry, the cloth is ready for sketching and drawing.
The paintings are usually inspired by the ancient Indian
mythological characters. This work is a treasured tradition
and can be found in many museums in India and abroad.
Today, Kalamkari is mostly applied on dupattas, bed
spreads and wall hangings.
An ancient art form, Bidri work dates back over
It was introduced to the Sultans of the Bahmani
Dynasty between the 14th and 17th century A.D. Historians
say that the art form travelled from Iran and
through Ajmer and Bijapur, before it was
established in Bidar. This place then a part
of the Bahmani kingdom, is now located in Karnataka.
Needless to say, Bidri derives its name from this village.
The process involves laying of gold or silver wire
on a cast of copper and zinc. The articles are cast
with moulds of red clay. A molten solution of copper
and zinc is poured on it. The polished base is then
coated with copper sulphate to create a dark surface.
The design is outlined by the craftsmen with the help
Next, a pure silver (or gold) wire or sheet is hammered
in the engraved outlines, and the surface polished with
sandpaper. In the last stage, the articles are heated
and treated with a solution of ammonium chloride,
copper sulphate, potassium nitrate and old mud (taken
from the ruins of ancient buildings). As a result, the
entire surface turns black.
Traditionally Bidri was used to make cot legs, hookahs,
pan box, etc. These days, the art is used to make
vases, cuff links, earrings, small statues, cigarette
box, ashtrays, etc. The price ranges from Rs.10
for a keychain to Rs. 50,000 for a more exquisitely
Bidriware is available at all handicraft emporiums.
Besides, there are exclusive stores, like the Bidri
Heritage in Maseb Tank and Bidri Crafts
NIRMAL ART - A touch of
Nirmal Art which originated in Adilabad
is a distinctive art. Gods, goddesses and figures from
folklore are the chief themes of this art.
The pictures are painted in gold with a black background
on wood and then lacquered. A special make of cards,
the Ganjifa, is made using cloth and chalk. They
are circular and decorated with miniature figures of
gods and goddesses. The paints are basically drawn from
herbs and roots.
The artists here also produce painted toy figures of
birds, animals, fruits, etc.
From Tribal Land
Dokra is a form of metal work that is tribal
in origin. The subjects, besides bells, anklets,
trinklets are mostly drawn
from nature and usually take the form of wild animals
and fish. The shapes are unique and the depiction
of wild animals is rather thought provoking, for example
the head of a deer, sharply arched upwards, looking
towards the sky as if calling out to the heavens for
The shape is first moulded in a mixture of red mud
and wax. Once a distinct shape is created,
molten brass is poured over it.
Today, dokra crafts are available at all handicrafts
emporiums and are used as showcase pieces, paper weights
and gift items. The prices range from Rs. 50 for a tiny
fish to Rs. 1600 for a large bell.