Tikuli is the local term in Bihar used for Bindi, a colorful dot which married women wear on their forehead between the eyebrows. Bindi is usually worn by Indian women in bright red color. Bindi is used as a symbol of the third eye and hence worn where the sixth chakra is present. However, in present time, Tikuli is used as a source of women empowerment in the Indian state of Bihar. This art originates in Patna from more than 800 years. Being avid art lovers, the Mughals provided active patronage and appreciated the features of the art. Tikuli art is an unprecedented and stand-out piece of hand painting, more than 800 years old and has its source in Patna. It is one of the principle subjects for Nepali and Bhojpuri society tunes. In a large number of the Hindi writing books, it has been used as an image of cheerful married life, a character of a wedded woman.

Revival of Tikuli Art

Because of the efforts of two passionate artists Tikuli Art reemerged on the scene. Chitracharya Padmashree Upendra Marathi was a popular artist in 1954 who worked towards the revival of the dying art. He got inspiration from Japanese paintings and methods to portray the Tikuli art on hardboard. However, his efforts didn’t gain much popularity till he passed away. It was popular painter and artist Ashok Kumar Biswas who stepped in 1975 after him to take the art to a whole new level. Along with wife Shibani Biswas, Ashok worked hard to develop the art into a source of our livelihood. Eventually, because of his efforts the art gained so much popularity that in Asian Games of the year 1982, Tikuli art pieces were gifted to the best players by Smt. Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India.

Decorative Wall Plates

Decorative Wall Plates

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Making of Tikuli Art

Hardboard is used to make paintings by the artists. These hardboards are cut in various shapes like triangular, square, rectangular, and circular. Then, on the cut wooden piece, four-five enamel coats are applied. The wood is rubbed with sandpaper after every coat giving it a polished surface. Finally, design is made by paint after the final coat. It is further embellished with golden foil and jewels. Madhubani motifs are used in Tikuli art paintings to increase its variety and expand the details. It is a treat to see these two brilliant art forms in one frame for many art lovers. The art requires mild sunlight in order to dry or dry air at room temperature because of the use the enamel paint. For finished look, the art must be a dust free atmosphere. Favorable seasons are spring and summer while monsoon being highly unfavorable.

Smt. Indira Gandhi selected Tikuli art plates among other crafts.

Smt. Indira Gandhi selected Tikuli art plates among other crafts.

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Unique feature of Tikuli art

Expensive: The etching gold foil technique on the glass with natural raw materials made the art production work quite costly at that time.

Rare: The special skills required for this art was present only the state of Bihar.

Detailed Work: Tikuli artist needs to do the detailing in smallest of a piece of the clothes.

The above-mentioned characteristics made Tikuli art a sole privilege offered to royal people. After the entrance of the British Raj over Mughal Empire, the art faced a change. Machine made Bindis took popularity over hand-made ones. Hence, thousands of Tikuli artists became jobless.

Mithila Painting

Mithila Painting

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The most successful Tikuli art organizations of India are the following:

Bihar Mahila Udyog Sangh

The Tikuli or “Bindi” which has decorated the forehead of Hindu women has now found another incarnation as an art frame, on account of the artist, painter and specialist Shree Ashok Kumar Biswas. Biswas learned the art from Lal Babu Gupta who spent significant time in the art. His energy for restoring an old art of Bihar proved valuable for art lovers as well as for some poor families. With humble beginnings at Dehri On Sone in Rohtas region of Bihar, this man had an aptitude and an ability to match his fantasies. He may be known as the solitary crusader in the fight for the restoration of the diminishing Tikuli specialty and he has kept the fight going at Patna since 1974 with his wife Shibani.

Bihar Mahila Udyog Sangh

Tikuli Art done by Bihar Mahila Udyog Sangh

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Upendra Maharathi Shilp Anusandhan Sansthan

Established in 1956, Upendra Maharathi Shilp Anusandhan Sansthan conducts research and training, product development activities and also tries to safeguard the state’s languishing crafts. The home of India’s some initial paintings, Bihar is tremendously rich in its arts and crafts. UMSAS organizes wide range of public programs, like workshops, seminars, fairs, exhibits, and special events.

Upendra Maharathi Shilp Anusandhan Sansthan

Upendra Maharathi Shilp Anusandhan Sansthan

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Patna-based Ashok Kumar Biswas has for all intents and purposes with no help reestablished this art. He has melded the tikuli art with another art type of Bihar, Madhubani, to make embellishing divider plates, napkins, place settings, inside decorations, plate, pen stands and other utility things. The hundreds of years old passing on Tikuli art shows the numerous appearances of our rich Indian culture including the acclaimed Madhubani Paintings of Bihar.

An old specialty of the Mughal times, tikuli art is really beautiful in the present times also. It is still the part of tribal adornments worn by the Santhal tribe of Bihar. The art of making tikuli is hinting at restoration — as an art and also a good business recommendation for poor groups of Bihar towns.


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.