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What ancient Indian paintings tell us?

Art is immortal. it stands the test of time and will always have a story to say. This story- that the art vehemently tries to convey to us is the story of our ancestors, the story of who we are, what made us, and the story of our roots. This narration of our past will always live as long as civilization exists. 

 

A work of art’s symbolism, colors, and materials reveal the culture in which it was produced, as well as the life in the past. Through analyzing and examining the details in paintings from the past, we can experience time as it was during another period in history. In modern times, historians are learning a great deal about the cultures, values, and beliefs of cultures from the ancient world through the art that they have created. The main specialty of art is that it can be enjoyed by people of all kinds. Art was one of the few means of communicating during the time when few people were able to read and write and a way of preserving important events.

 

Indian paintings have their own way of retelling the past. India was a land of myriad mythology and histories, being ruled by various dynasties and kingdoms and being dominated by various cultures and influences. Thus the paintings of our nation have detailed stories to tell.  These paintings are testimonies of various communities, cultures, and people. They are decorated and embellished in various patterns, colors, and print. Each is , richly articulated in detail. Our paintings show us the way our ancestors lived, what meaning they saw in the stars and what life was to them. Their concept of love, death, nature can all be derived from observing their paintings.

 

It goes without saying that we are blessed with a culture filled with numerous paintings and art forms. And our ancestors have had many stories to tell us and they talk to us through the canvases that they filled with patterns and colors. But what do we have to contribute? What will we give back to the legacy that lies before us?

The lack of awareness and concern for our culture has resulted in a slow but steady deterioration of it. The main obstacle is the rising demand for machine-cut, mass-produced products and a lack of appreciation for traditional painting forms.

Craftsmen, artists, and designers are finding it difficult to continue with their endeavors due to the lack of support from society, and the next generation is reluctant to continue with their careers. A handcrafted product requires specialists and skilled labor, making it unique. On the other hand, machine-cut products need no such requirements and can be produced in bulk, making them widely available. This leads to fewer demands on handicrafts. In a world where everything is made available at our fingertips, readymade, cheap items have more importance than original paintings. In fact, many of us do not even know half the names of the paintings or painting forms in India. Thus it is only right that we understand the cultural heritage and preserve it in all forms. Our ancestor’s voice speaks to us through these painting forms and it is our duty to listen and open our hearts to the voice.

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Tanjore Painting

Charles Gold, the British chronicler in his book Oriental Drawings, talks about ‘Moochys or Artists of India’ who dabbled in Tanjore paintings. Beautifully done in embellishments of semi-precious stones, pearls, and glass pieces, Tanjore paintings give the artwork a 3D appeal that is visually stunning and culturally rich. Originating from a village Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu around 1600 AD, and drawing inspiration from the paintings done by Nayakas, Tanjore paintings flourished under Maharaja Serfoji ||. These paintings are traditionally done by the Raju community and the Naidu community. The painting is usually centered around mythological figures, celebrated by its famous gold coating. Sketches and paintings depicting episodes in the Hindu Puranas as well as other religious texts are arranged around a central figure or figures surrounded by numerous subsidiary figures, themes, and subjects. They sometimes also included Jain, Sikh, Muslim, other religious, and even secular subjects in this fold.

 

Depending on the patron’s interest, urgency, and financial capability, the artists produced a wide array of paintings on a variety of subjects and of differing quality. According to the Indian tradition of painting, most master craftsmen chose to remain anonymous and did not sign their paintings out of a measure of reverence and humility for their craft.

 

In the past, artists have used natural colors such as vegetable and mineral dyes, but today with the advent of modernism, artificial paints have gradually taken over. The major specialty of Tanjore paintings is the stunning color scheme of vivid reds, blues, and greens. There are two purposes behind the liberal use of gold foil on Thanjavur paintings: it enhances the beauty of the painting and extends its life. Fake gold foils look similar to genuine gold, making the distinction difficult for consumers to discern. This and the paintings’ richness and intricacy make them stand out from other Indian art styles.

 

Thanjavur painting or popularly known as Tanjore art is famous and has its own share in sales, with artists selling Tanjore painting online, and fine art painting or fine art drawing. In addition, it is important to remember that Thanjavur art was functional, in that it was intended for a specific purpose and was made in response to a specific request from a customer. 

 

The future of the Tanjore paintings is bright due to the efforts taken to revitalize them. This traditional visual art comes under the label of fine arts. The Thanjavur paintings are being revived through programs, exhibitions, workshops, as well as training camps organized by many institutions, including state governments. Materials used have also changed according to cost and availability as plywood, for example, has by and largely replaced teak wood and jackwood, as well as synthetic paint and glue being preferred over the natural and mineral colors and other traditional components while Muck powder, a fine powder of chalk, provides a 3D effect.in modern Tanjore paintings, we also notice the inclusion of modern subjects and themes. In recent years, artists have combined this old form of art with other styles to produce mixed media art. Tanjore paintings, for example, are also done on mirrors, glass, and canvas. This kind of Himalayan fine art has a part in modern Tanjore painting and the sub-branches it produces. Due to the fact that this gold foil design is unique to this traditional art, this same design is recreated on a variety of media.

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Indian Pottery & Clay Art

Clay Utensils Pottery

Art in ancient and Medieval India wasn’t limited to selected substrates. While Murals, Paper & Garments were the leading substrates, Pottery products like Pots, Kulhars, decorative items, God Idols, and more continued to develop over centuries. Lamp and water jars form a huge part of the Indian tradition of pottery. Even though it was only practiced and used as a necessity back then, today Indian pottery thrives as a luxurious artform this is mainly due to its growing role in aesthetics, indoor decoration, and conscious effort for a healthier lifestyle.  

One of the most popular pottery cups is Kulhar or Shikora. This pottery and its art form have a rich history dating back to the Indus valley civilization. Another feature is that this pottery form is shared by India and Pakistan. Unglazed inside out, they are made in a fire kiln and are never reused. Food stalls and bazaars in the Indian subcontinent often served hot drinks in kulhars, which lent them an appealing “earthiness” that was lauded as a hallmark of the area. Now with the advent of polystyrene and coated paper cups as they are more convenient and cheaper. Drinking tea in a Kulhar would soak up the interiors and give a very pleasant taste and fragrance. Now Kulhar can be found in some of the high-end restaurants. Even though an effort was made y the Indian railways to preserve this, it turned out to be a failure.

 


The pottery had lost its importance as cookware 10 years back when Indian kitchens were flooded with plastics that were easier to handle, nonbreakable, and very cheap but after a more conscious move for a healthier lifestyle fueled by the awareness of cancer and lifestyle diseases, people have been welcoming back Indian pottery to their kitchen after its brief exile. These pottery or earthenware are more eco-friendly and nowadays easy on the budget is an added bonus. In cities, people are joining pottery classes to learn and make pots to replace the plastic ware at home. Clay pots add many important nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and sulfur to food, which is extremely beneficial to our body. since clay is also alkaline, it neutralizes the acidity in the food, making it easier to digest. Clay pots fill the recipes with a scent of earth, and they can last for years if maintained properly. Clay is a heat-resistant material, and food in these pots retains moisture, so no more added oil is needed to keep food moist while cooking.

Handi, Matka, and manchatti are some of the other names of Indian cooking ware. Needless to say, these pots have a huge fanbase all around the world fame for their delicious food and aromatic smell that draws your taste buds in. the reason is that since the clay is unglazed, it soaks in the food and then gives it a very earthy taste. Also, the food takes a long time to cook in, and thereby the slow and drawn-out cooking process definitely enriches the cooking process. No wonder, Indian cuisine is one of the celebrated cuisines of the world.

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Indian Painting forms and its footprint on global fabric design

The culture of India has always fascinated the world and has been a brilliant identifier and advertiser for India’s intellect & inclination towards art. Ranging from peppers and spices to khadi and Ayurveda, our heritage is indeed a gift to the world. India was ruled by numerous kingdoms, dynasties. All of this left an indelible mark on our culture in a way that has etched its mark on the walls of human lifestyle and culture. Bringing this into the world of fashion, It is no secret that our designs and attire are loved and sold at exorbitant prices around the world. 

Indeed, we see Indian prints and patterns on aesthetic outfits at shops, online thrift stores, and even on abstract art. Be it summer clothes, formal attire, vintage outfit, monochrome outfits, dresses with short sleeves, Indian painting print patterns have never been out of style. Not only in fashion, but textile art has also indeed dominated places far from fashion like watercolor painting, website design, logo making, free logo design, landscape painting, and graphic design. In architecture also we come across these print patterns in-ceiling designs for bedrooms, Indian paintings hung on the walls or decorated on carpets or in the vases that we use.

Only in India do you see the connection of historic art to our daily life. Textile art has survived wars, famines, and colonialism to reach us in its whole form. Some of the Indian paintings have left their footprints in fashion’s print work and textile art.

The art of Parsi embroidery originated in Iran but has become influenced by Persian, European, Indian, and Chinese cultures. Usually found in the Parsi Gara sarees, this artwork is so rich and embellished that it takes about 9 months to complete a single piece. But in today’s world of fast fashion, mass-produced garments and cheap materials are threatening this historic art.

Bandhani, the oldest form of tie & die art, involves dying a fabric while it is tightly tied with a thread in several places. Its origins can be traced back to about 5,000 years ago in the Ajanta caves of Gujarat. The Khatri community were the pioneers of this form.  Creating interesting patterns of either dots, stripes, waves, or squares, these threads function as barriers and do not stain or affect the untied parts. 

The ancient art form of kalamkari involves dying, bleaching, hand painting, block printing, starching, cleaning, and more tedious steps before the final product is completed. The process begins with a tamarind pen and natural dyes and involves 23 tedious steps. Awe-inspiring prints imitate the episodes and stories created by musicians, artists, and storytellers in India’s divine kingdoms. Kalamkari is primarily embellished with sarees made from handloom fabric. Its main components are flowers, peacocks and paisleys, and characters from Hindu epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Chandi Ki Chhapai, or Varak painting, is an ornamental way of embellishing clothes or textiles by flattening gold or silver into a paper-like consistency. These days, Varak work is usually seen on sarees and dupattas made by Indian craftsmen of the highest quality. This work is indeed an indicator of the powerful and wealthy times that India has passed through. 

There is the notion that fashion is superior when it is foreign. Foreign dresses and clothes have had a large market in India catering to the public. Fashion is in no way more elite if it is foreign. Our traditional prints from paintings have found their way into the folds of fashion. And it is something to be proud of and celebrated. 

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Madhubani Paintings, Bihar’s Pride

In the year of 1934, a massive earthquake struck the state of Bihar. The then colonial officer of the Madhubani District, William G Archer found a set of Beautiful paintings on the interior walls of the homes that were damaged by the earthquake. Those paintings were the Madhubani Paintings. But the original history dates back thousands of years ago, around the time of Ramayana when King Janaka asked an artist to artistically illustrate his daughter Sita’s wedding to Prince Rama. These paintings were  Madhubani Paintings or Bhitti Chitra. Madhubani paintings are also called Bhitti Chitra as they have originated in the Mithila region of the Bihar border of India & Nepal.

 

The word Madhubani literally means a “Forest of Honey”. Women of all classes and castes used to paint on canvas, cloth, or cow-dung-washed hand paper. They only used Natural dye and colors and the paintings were intricately designed with geometrical figures and vibrant colors. The themes of Madhubani painting varied from religious themes to mythology. A common subject in Madhubani paintings is Ardhanarishvara (a figure depicting two halves of Shiva – a synthesis of His consort Parvati – as a unification of supreme powers), Mythological characters (Ram, Sita, Hanuman, Krishna, and more), and a picture of the elephant king Ashoka. The art is also called the Mithila art because it originated in Mithila at Madhubani District. The words, Madhubani Art, Mithila art, and Mithila paintings are simultaneously and synonymously used to denote such paintings. Today, the district Madhubani is a major exporter of these paintings. India had awarded the GI or geographical indication tag to six Madhubani paintings. These paintings are notable for their two-dimensional portrayal and naturally derived colors which are used in the paintings. The artists do not leave any empty space in the paintings, they carefully fill every gap with imagery of flowers and geometric designs, and sometimes even animals.

 This art form still thrives in the schools of art across Mithila that keep the flame of the talent alive by teaching others, Kalakrithi, Vaidehi, Benipatti, and Gram Vikas Parishad are some of the Famous centers of Paintings.

Madhubani paintings have recently been at the center of attention for their role in environmental conservation efforts in the light of heavy deforestation. In an attempt to protect local trees from being cut down in the name of expanding roads, Shashthi Nath Jha of the Gram Vikas Parishad started the initiative as part of his NGO. These efforts have not only stopped deforestation but attempted to bring back greenery into Bihar which has one of the lowest forest covers in India. 

Today Madhubani paintings are taught to and cherished by young artists who take a genuine interest in drawing Madhubani art. These new artists are more interested in Madhubani art like Radha Krishna Madhubani painting and Peacock Madhubani painting. Drawing Madhubani art can be learned from the schools of art that are trained in the Mithila art. Radha Krishna Madhubani painting is in fact the religious side of the Madhubani art whereas the Peacock Madhubani painting shows the more secular and man to nature relationship that is depicted in the Mithila paintings. While the form of art can be portrayed on any substrate such as walls, clothes, paper, utensils; modern artists are adapting the art form and putting on different kinds of articles.

 

Visit https://kreatmaster.com/listings/categories/indian-traditional-paintings/  for such amazing Indian Paintings. 

Madhubani Paintings have received worldwide attention for their cultural representation and artistic quality.  With its portrayals of themes of religion, love, and fertility, the art not only displays the social structure of the land but also its cultural identity. Expressing the creativity and sensitivity of the land and culture, this art will definitely live on. 

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Reclaiming Glory, Tradition & Heritage through Art.

 

How many of us have actually heard about the beautiful Manjusha paintings or Batik Art? Chances are unlikely. Because they have been an endangered form of art, almost on the verge of extinction. The more we would have explored the detailed work of art and the diverse range & depth it had, we probably would have been in awe of our ancestorial work.  Somewhere along the way, we lost touch with our cultural self and drifted away from the values and traditional skills of our great nation that have been passed down from generations. Bringing back the traditional handicrafts that were once so ingrained in our lives is indeed a heavy task. But we know that it’s worth the effort.

 

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Kreatmaster is a StartUp that focuses on the revival of Traditional handicrafts and services that have faded as the years went by. We aim to provide a digital space for the selling of goods and services to artisans. The Artisans, throughout India, are encouraged to advertise their goods on our website and widen their selling market. This will in fact not only promote the sales but also bring the knowledge and popularity of these goods back to the market. Thereby creating an influx of trade.

Handicrafts are a prime example of indigenous knowledge, traditional cultural expressions of artisans, small or large tribes, and even entire nations and communities at large. Crafting communities invest their labors and merits from generation to generation to create aesthetic and artistic handicrafts that both reflect their intellectual contributions and represent their community lifestyles, allowing them to be protected under the geographical indications (GIs) regime. Despite the fact that these handicrafts may be GI protected but they are on the verge of extinction as they still need an influx of trade to stay afloat on the business, to compete with processed, factory-made goods. Many indigenous crafts have already been lost or are hung by a tiny thread for survival, Dokra idols  Of West Bengal & Odisha, Parsi Embroidery, Toda Embroidery of Nilgiri Hills, Naga Handicrafts of Nagaland being a few of them.

Kreatmaster’s vision is that the handicrafts sector becomes a significant contributor to the Country’s economy and adds not only soulful but financial value to the citizens. It can employ a large number of craftspeople in rural and semi-urban areas, where the rates of unemployment are high and the per capita income is marginal.  Revenue generation within and outside the country happens to be one of the primary goals but at the same time, we get to promote and broadcast India’s cultural heritage and soft power.

Handicrafts have enormous potential because they hold the key to sustaining not only the existing set of millions of artisans spread across the country but also the increasing number of new entrants into this economy. Under Kreatmaster’s long-term vision, the youth of the country will be chosen best of their abilities and interests in their liking of art & Craft and then their skills will be polished by training them not only to make the products but to present them in the international market in the best digital & commercial manner possible.  A push like this will not only make Indian art thrive but and slowly they will find their way back into our homes and lives, where they really belong.

Kreatmaster aims to bring about a change and a return to the pristine ways of life by reclaiming the handicrafts that were once a part of our life and integrating them for our future generations to know them too. So if you know any struggling artisan that is engaged in the traditional trade, introduce them to Kreatmaster. It will change their lives in more than one way.  To know more, visit us at: https://kreatmaster.com/