“I feel reviving a dying art is much better than continuing the existing art forms. Hence, I have dedicated over 20 years of my life, in breathing life to ‘Basoli,’ a unique miniature painting style, ruined due to earthquake,” said Eminent Artist Kamal Ahmed M from Gadag


Basoli paintings

Basoli paintings derive their name from the village named Basoli, in Himachal Pradesh in India, where they originated. These evolved in the 17th and 18th centuries as a distinctive style of painting by fusion of Hindu mythology, Mughal miniature techniques, and folk art of the local hills.

https://www.indiamart.com/harmonyarts-vadodara/basohli-painting.html

HISTORY

The roots of the art form can be traced to the 14th century. The Basoli school of painting developed with the decline of the Mughal empire, after the death of Emperor Aurangzeb. During his reign, master artists and painters began leaving the royal court and started seeking patronage at the courts which flourished far away from the center of the empire, as Emperor Aurangzeb did not pay them much patronage. One of the biggest such centers was the village Basoli. Two types of miniature art developed in Basoli. One was the regular miniatures which may be called classic painting. The second was eroticism in miniature.

The entire village was destroyed by an earthquake and so, very few paintings have been discovered among the ruins.

The discovered Basoli paintings were first introduced to the world in the Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India published in 1921. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy believed them to be the Jammu style of painting, which also contributed to their style. Coomaraswamy observed them to be “designed with a decorative simplicity very suggestive of large scale mural art.” They had not been categorized as Basoli paintings yet, and thus, there were certain errors in classification and they were often confused with other art forms with similar roots.

THEMES

The most popular themes depicted in Basoli paintings derive from the Shringara literature like Rasamanjari, Gita Govinda, and Ragaamala. Painters involved in the art form also painted portraits of local rulers, who provided them patronage. One of the important royal families most closely linked with the history of the painting during and after the Mughal period is of the Padhas of Basoli. The Raja also got his portrait made by the court artists.

[insert portrait of abovementioned king]

Portrait of Raja Dhiraj Pal, Basohli, c. 1720–25

One of the most popular themes in Basoli painting particularly during the reign of Raja Kripal Pal was the Rasamanjari written by the poet Bhanudutta. A Basohli Rasamanjari series was illustrated by Devidas, a local painter of Basoli belonging to the Tarkhan community, which produced many skilled artists.

The Basoli school of painting draws inspiration from the Mughal School as well as the Rajasthani School of painting and they have sometimes been confused with each other.

CHARACTERISTICS

Bright colors like red, blue, and yellow, bold lines, red borders, lustrous enamel like colors, and rich symbols are characteristic of this style of painting. The faces of the figures have receding foreheads and large bulging eyes shaped like lotus petals. Their rich costumes, stylized faces, and expressive eyes gave individuality to the Basoli paintings.

[insert vibrant pictures]

On the threshold of youthOn the Threshold of Youth, illustration to the Rasamanjari, Basohli, c. 1695

 

The Churning of the Ocean of Milk, Basohli, c. 1730

 

Krishna Stealing the Clothes of Cowherdesses, from the Bhagavata Puran

Nayikas in Rasamanjari. Basohli Painting (18th Century)

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These paintings resemble the Rajasthani and Malwa school of paintings. The Dogra Art Museum in Jammu has an exquisite collection of Basoli paintings.


Content Research and Conceptualisation by Kaavya Lakshman and Content Written by Kaavya Lakshman and Saumya Sinha

Tikuli art is an unique art form from Bihar, which has a very rich and deep traditional history. The word ‘tikuli’ is the local term for ‘bindi’, which is usually a bright, colorful dot that women wear between their brows. Since olden times, the bindi was created as a symbolic mean to worship intellect and conserve the modesty of women. However, in today’s time, tikuli art serves as a source of empowerment for the women of Bihar.

A red bindi worn by married women signifies good marriage and virtue. It is an important symbol of Indian culture.

A red bindi worn by married women signifies good marriage and virtue. It is an important symbol of Indian culture.

HISTORY

Tikuli art originated in Patna over 800 years ago. It deals with beautifully designed paintings which are manufactured in the local streets of the city. With flourishing sales, Tikuli artform managed to influence traders from across the country to flock to Patna to buy tikuli art in bulk. The Mughals were active patrons of the art form and appreciated its many salient features.

This is a rare specialty of Bihar and no such work is found elsewhere. Since it is very intricate and detailed, it requires a special set of skills. Tikuli art is expensive too, as the value of the art is directly proportional to the refinement of the work. In the picture below, it can be easily seen that even though the figures are small-scaled, the artist has not compromised on the details.

intricate tikuli art

The intricate craftsmanship made tikuli art the sole privilege of the royalty.

With the decline of the Mughal Empire, and the coming of the British Raj, Tikuli art faced a severe blow. The British introduced industrialization, and so, indigenous goods came to be replaced by cheap machine-made goods. Thousands of Tikuli artists were left jobless as machine-made bindis came into the market, and Tikuli art was lost in the chaos.

REVIVAL

Revival of this art form can solely be attributed to two artists.

In 1954, Chitracharya Padmashree Upendra Marathi, single handedly took the initiative to revive this dying art form. He got the idea to portray Tikuli art on glazed hardboard during his stay in Japan, where traditional motifs on colorful hardboard were being commercially sold.

Mr Ashok Kumar Biswas, Tikuli craftsman who almost single handedly revived the dying art form.

Artist, craftsman, and painter Shree Ashok Kumar Biswas took Tikuli art to a whole new level. He, along with his wife Shibani Biswas, not only revived the art but also developed it into a source of livelihood. Tikuli art now serves as an economic beneficiary for over 300 women in Bihar. The noble efforts of the Biswas and the workmanship of these women are nationally and internationally acclaimed. In 2012, he was selected to participate in the Bihar Divas Celebrations organized in Delhi and Jaipur. He was also assigned the task of explaining the subtle art of Tikuli to the visitors of the International Fair held in Seoul.

MAKING OF TIKULI ART

Making Tikuli art is a delicate and tedious process. To simplify it, I have divided it into three steps:

  1. Tikuli artists use hardboard to create paintings. The hardboard is cut into various shapes like circular, rectangular, triangular, or square.
  2. Four-five coats of enamel are applied thereafter on the cut wooden piece. After every coat the wood is rubbed with sandpaper thus giving it a polished surface.
  3. After the final coat of enamel is applied, the design is made with paint. It is also embellished with gold foil and jewels.

Tikuli art also uses Madhubani motifs in its paintings. It exemplifies the art and it is always a wonderful feeling to see two exceptionally brilliant art forms together in one frame.

Beautiful juxtaposition of Tikuli and Madhubani art.

Spring and summer season are the most suitable for making this art as the craft requires dry air at room temperature due to usage of enamel paints. Squirrel or sable hair is used to make the brushes and the size range varies from 0.0-20.

THEMES

Tikuli art as a product is more popular as export, rather than as something of cultural significance. The aim of the products is to showcase Indian culture to the rest of the world. The themes mostly revolve around festivals of Bihar, Indian wedding scenes, and Krishna Leela.

Tikuli art sold as a wall hanging.

 

Costers and wall hangings with beautiful Tikuli art on them are hugely popular exports.


“In art, man reveals himself and not his objects”, Rabindranath Tagore on art and artisans.

Art is the language of culture and the artist is the poet. The true intricacies and beauty of art can be seen in the hands of the artisans, who put their soul into making a single piece of work. All art forms around the world have their own story to tell. But unfortunately for some of them, the audience is unable to lend a listening ear. As a result, many of our traditional art forms are now on the verge of fading away. We, at Nazariya, are working to promote these dying art forms and to restore the artisans their pride and dignity, which they once enjoyed.

 

Wood carving artisan

Mr Laxman Bhatt- wood carving artist

” I am an artist and I am proud of it. I started at an early age, with the talent
inherited from my ancestors. With my slow and steady efforts, I honed my skills in
carving. The piece of wood and my passion to keep giving shape to my imagination
motivated me throughout.”

Lifestyles have changed so rapidly that our traditional crafts and art forms have been consigned to the archives, dying slowly with each new generation being brought up unaware about our cultural heritage. Lack of funding to globalisation, a lot can be attributed to the decline of art. As a result of this, the millennials are mostly unaware of the art forms that make up our rich cultural heritage. Even people who wish to know more about them, find it difficult to do so. All that they are left with are trips to museums and libraries, which provide only half the picture.

kinnera artisan

The Kinnera; a string instrument played by the Chenchu tribe and which is on the verge of dying. To read more about this click here.

One of the reasons why traditional art forms are dying is because the children of these artisans no longer want to carry on their ancestral art. The technicalities behind these arts are passed on to the younger generation and the knowledge is mostly confined to the same family or clan. Since machine-made art is cheaper and cost-effective, the age-old traditions have faced a backlash. Even though traditional art forms require huge commitment and dedication, these artisans seldom get enough recognition and financial support. This leads the youth to abandon traditional arts making it a major factor in their decline. Nazariya helps them by giving them a bigger platform and an engaging audience to work with. As soon as the market for traditional art forms improves, then money would automatically flow.

So, there is need to bridge the gap between the urban and the rural. While traditional art forms flourish in villages, they do not have an urban outreach. Consequently, Nazariya provides these artists with a platform to showcase their work and helps in building connections with the urban market. By being a part of Sargaalaya International Arts and Craft Festival- 2016, we have, thus, taken our mission to a new level. We are not simply a storefront for selling paintings and art & crafts, our aim is to build deeper interactions between the customer and the artisans. In addition, we also organise regular workshops, where visitors can have face-to-face interaction with the craftsman. After all, Mahatma Gandhi once said, “true art must be evidence of happiness, contentment and purity of its authors.” And to revive the art, we need to provide opportunities for the artist.

Given below is a list of some artisans and the art they specialise in.

ARTISANS

  • Mr Laxman Bhatt; Wood Carving
  • Mr Shankar Lal Bhopa; Phad and Miniature Painting
  • Mr Harekrishna Parida; Coir Toy Making
  • Ram Pal Singh; Braj ki Sanjhi
  • Mr. Chandan; Dhokra Metalsmith
  • Mr. Dilip Shyam; Gond Art
  • Mr. Abdul Rehman; Arabic Calligrapher
  • Kayakalp; Puppetry
  • Kreeda Games; Traditional Indian Games
  • Mr. Menon; Jambili Athon

In order to read more about various artisans and their work, click here.

 


Join Nazariya at Sargaalaya as we rediscover our Artistic Heritage Together


Sargaalaya, the Kerala Arts and Crafts village in Kerala, is an initiative of the Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala. It is an exclusive place where you can not only pick a product fashioned by the traditional artisans of Kerala but also learn one or two lessons in the subtleties of crafts-making. While designed as a tourist destination, Sargaalaya is also a platform for exhibition, sales, and craft-making. The tourist can have face-to-face interaction with the artisans showcasing their life-long achievements, and maybe learn a thing or two!

We, at Nazariya, focus on building a platform where you can not only purchase unique handmade products, but also discover the behind-the-scenes of who makes them, what their story is, and experience their journey in a way you could have never imagined before. Our aim is to provide a platform to the artisans and help them showcase their talents and handiwork to the masses. We also organize workshops to allow the people to gain better insight into how the artist’s mind works, what nuances go into making a single piece of craft, and help them learn a few basics themselves.

The core values of Sargaalaya and Nazariya are the same; revisiting art forms. The only difference is that we focus more on how to revive dying forms of art around the world. The thought is the same but the thinkers are different.

Given below are some art forms that Nazariya would be focusing on presenting at Sargaalaya International Arts and Craft Festival- 2016.

 

  1. Wood Carving

“Exquisite Wood Craft from Amer, Rajasthan. Available on our website.”

Wood carving is a form of woodworking done by a cutting tool (knife) in one hand or a chisel in two hands or with one hand on a chisel and one hand on a mallet, to make a wooden figure or figurines of deities, like Buddha and Ganesha. It originated in Rajasthan in the 17th century. Intricately carved wooden doors and windows in palaces and havelis are testimonies to its popularity in the medieval era. In fact, even today this craft is practised extensively in various parts of Rajasthan.

 

  1. Phad Painting

“Ethnic tribal royalty painting in Rajasthan.”

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Phad painting is a style religious scroll painting and folk painting practised in Rajasthan, state of India. Phad painting is traditionally done on a large piece of cloth or Canvas known as Phad. The paintings are the life of two legendary Rajasthani heroes, Pabuji and Devnarayan ji, who are worshipped as the incarnation of lord Vishnu and Laxman. While the story is narrated using songs and dance, the visual impact is provided by the phad.

  1. Miniature Painting

“Radha and Krishna as depicted in a miniature painting.”

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Miniature paintings are beautiful handmade paintings which are often vibrantly colored, but as the name suggests, very small in size. Also, very intricate and detailed work goes into making them, which further gives them a unique identity. The art of miniature painting was introduced in India by the Mughals, who brought this art form from Persia. Here, the themes mainly depicted are court scenes, gardens, forests, palaces, stories of Lord Krishna, love scenes, and battles.

   4. Puppetry

“Kathputlis in Rajasthan.”

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Puppetry has always held an important place in traditional entertainment. Like traditional theatre, themes for puppet theatre are mostly based on epics and legends. Puppets from different parts of the country have their own identity, and regional styles of painting and sculpture are reflected in them. Like the string puppets from Rajasthan are known as Kathputli, similarly string puppets of Orissa are known as Kundhei, and puppets from Tamil Nadu known as Bommalattam.

   5. Gond Art

“Tribal Gond art”

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Gond Art is a reflection of India’s largest Adivasi community called Gonds in Bhopal. It is the art of stories, the art of spirituality and is believed to bring good luck. The Gonds were storytellers who used to narrate the stories glorifying the king and this was the main source of their livelihood. The Gonds painted their walls with lively portrayals of local flora and fauna and gods and the art form is created by putting together dots and lines. Here the artists use colours developed by charcoal, plants sap, cow dung and leaves.

The passion and heart that the artisans put into creating these art forms are what distinguish them truly. Every art form has a deep history, a deeper soul, and this year at Sargaalaya International Art and Craft Festival, Nazariya is going to help voice their stories.

“Let’s live history together”