Content Research and Conceptualisation by Kaavya Laxman and Content Written by Kaavya Laxman 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.
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.
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 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.
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:
- Tikuli artists use hardboard to create paintings. The hardboard is cut into various shapes like circular, rectangular, triangular, or square.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.