Chiseling Their Livelihood- Wood Carving | Raw Revivals

Residing in all parts of the nation, wood carving is a craft which is like a plant with flowers of various kinds. Each state has its own version of it and yet maintains its individual identity. This  intricate art is acquired in the skills of people practising it with one common aspect which is determination and hard work.

The art of making patterns and motifs is since the Mughal period. Intricate chests and furniture wooden pieces were made for the royals. Since then, it serves luxury both in India and overseas. This renowned technique has made its own niche in the industry and is conclusive of major part of the furniture industry. While sheesham is the most widely used type of wood, mango, teak, rosewood, ebony, sandalwood, walnut and deodar are also used. Intricately carved wooden pillars and doorways can be found in temples and palaces across the country. With royal patronage being replaced by market dynamics, wood carving is now mostly found in functional articles like furniture, bowls, boxes, lamp stands, etc.

Completely hand done, this technique requires a lot of patience to chisel out the motif from the wooden block and make the aesthetics coincide with luxury. Designs are first made on paper, and transferred onto the wood using ink. These are then carved using a variety of chisels. The article is finished by buffing in order to bring out the shine of the wood. This is usually done with the help of a lathe mechanism.

Its roots reaching out to various parts of the country which include:

Rajasthan: Bassi – carved figures, wooden shrines; Pipar, Bhari Sajanpur – bowls

Jammu & Kashmir: carved walnut wood utility and decorative items – bowls, trays, jewellery boxes, screens, tables, cupboards

Uttar Pradesh: Sahranpur – screens, folding tables, trays, bowls, boxes; Pilkhuwa, Farukkabad – printing blocks

Intricate jaalis and motifs, derived from the influences of the ancient architecture, is one major context of export from the country. Many international brands have their wood carving units in India. It is one craft which is contributing to the Indian economy and creating an impact.

Peeli Dori attempts to give this flourishing craft a contemporary face to get it in tune with today’s lifestyle.

 

Credits: Niharika Choudhary

Advertisements

Chhapaai | Raw Revivals

Hand block printing in India is at its excellence and proves out to be the best exporters in the world. The practice dates back to the ancient times and was cherish by both the royal and the local people.  The craft is practised in various parts of the country, varying in some form or another.

A simple technique of printing on fabric using wood carved or metal blocks was traditionally done on just cotton fabric. Now with modern requirements it has shifted to other fabrics like silk and tussar. It require precise skill practise to place every motif in the required area. The artisans of the craft are experts in analysing how much colour content they need on the block for it to be printed with fine quality.

This is one more craft which is very sustainable for the urban environment. The process does not require any toxic materials. The colours used are vegetable dyes which make the fabric more exclusive and skin friendly. Very intricate patterns can be printed using this method and there is no colour limitation as such. This technique has proved itself to be one of the most efficient one other than screen printing.

Some very prominent hand block printing varitions from the different corners of the country are discussed below.

Hand block printing of Gujarat- Ajrakh

The Ajrak resist-printing technique is found in Anjar and Dhamadka in Kutch. The painted Ajrak cloth has colours – blue, red, black and white, in several patterns. The printed red and block odhnis of Anjar carry motifs similar to those found on old pottery and stone carvings

Bagru Hand block printing- Dabu

The block print in Bagru is done mainly in beige, red and black. Shades of blue with much use of indigo blue dyeing processes is a characteristic of this centre. Bagru is also famous for its mud resist process Dabu and direct printing. The motifs are simple and include floral and linear patterns

Sanganeri prints- Hand block printing in Sanganer, Rajasthan

Sanganer, near Jaipur, is famous for its fine hand block printing in subdued colors. Hand block printing was patronised by the royal family. Sceen printing is also largely done here. Saganer has become a export hub for hand block print export. The Sanganeri Print is visible from small flower motifs like stylised sunflowers, narcissuses, roses, and other flowers of luxuriant foliage like daturas, rudrakshas, and arkas

Aloka printing- Javad, Madhya Pradesh

Javad prints in Indigo and Alizarine are mostly used. In the wax resist process done here the wax is applied using he block which is carved upto 10 cm in depth which can carry enough wax solution for no of imprints. Amba Butti aor the mango motif is fmous here. A very fine print known as Akola print where metal blocks designed with nails are used. is also prtaised in the area near javad. Akola is also famous for its discharge printing as well.

Double side printing- Balotra, Rajasthan

The traditional block-printing running in parallel lines technique of Ajrakh has attained a peak of excellence at Balotra. Although a desert climate but good water is one of the main reasons which imparts good colors which is so important for hand-block printing. The speciality of the block printing of Balotra is that it is done on both sides of the cloth. This is very diffult technique because there should not be any imbalance in the design-transfer from the block to the cloth. The reverse side hand block printing is done simultenously even when the other side of the design print is wet. The hand-block printed fabric from Balotra is therefore very exclusive and relatively expensive.

 Hand block printing Nagur

The main tribal group here and at Kishangarh are the Banjaras. Costumes are printed here along with jajams and spreads. The spreads are usually in red and yellow, with the design motifs being scorpions, centipedes or chaupars. Red and yellow are also used for jajams. The prints on these include the chowki, singhara or mirchi (chilli) designs with motifs of creepers, kanwal or ladders along the borders.

Reja cloth is used for making floor spreads or padharnas. The motifs used are those of the elephant, cheeta, chaupar and soldiers, among others. Mill-made long cloth or pharad is also used along with fine cloth like cambric. Printing is also done on muslins and silks. Good printing is not obtained on fine cloth and is also visible on the reverse side. However intricate designs can be printed only on fine cloth, and not on coarse fabric. In traditional printing, animal motifs are not printed on cloth meant for costumes. Chemical colours and new printing methods and techniques are found in the hand-printing craft in modern times.

 

The variations in the same technique, evolves out to be more interesting as we get in the depth of the process. The printing sector is huge and a lot of brands are using it as their major source of fabric. It is very well appreciated by the consumers who are aware of Indian culture and also the difference hand done exclusivity.

Peeli Dori’s attempt to help the craft flourish as one of the most beautiful flowers in the garden of Indian crafts is on its way.

 

Taj Mahal: The White Romance

An ever-lasting romance of a love not ended as yet, the Taj reveals its subtleties to its beholder.

Defined beauty and epitome of elegance, Taj Mahal is one precise detail on the Indian land. Land of India is full of cultural heritage and this white piece of architectural art is narrating a story set in Indian origin. Since the very ancient times, India follows and believes in the art of capturing stories in products and materials to give them life. Since we believe that a man may die but art never dies. It stays immortal. Taj Mahal was built to keep a love story alive. Its intricacy adds to the value signifying human dedication and therefore makes it one of the wonders. Above all, the colour white is signifies love, peace and calmness.

White marble, inlayed with fine coloured motifs and decorated all over, it was built as an expression of love by the Mughal emperor. This was Shah Jahan’s way of showing love toward his wife, Mutmtaj  Mahal.

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE TAJ MAHAL

Named the Taj Mahal in honor of Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum was constructed of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones (including jade, crystal, lapis lazuli, amethyst and turquoise) forming intricate designs in a technique known as pietra dura. Its central dome reached a height of 240 feet (73 meters) and was surrounded by four smaller domes; four slender towers, or minarets, stood at the corners. In accordance with Islamic tradition, verses from the Quran were inscribed in calligraphy on the arched entrances to the mausoleum, in addition to numerous other sections of the complex. Inside the mausoleum, an octagonal marble chamber adorned with carvings and semi-precious stones housed the cenotaph, or false tomb, of Mumtaz Mahal. The real sarcophagus containing her actual remains lay below, at garden level.

The rest of the Taj Mahal complex included a main gateway of red sandstone and a square garden divided into quarters by long pools of water, as well as a red sandstone mosque and an identical building called a jawab (or “mirror”) directly across from the mosque. Traditional Mughal building practice would allow no future alterations to be made to the complex. As the story goes, Shah Jahan intended to build a second grand mausoleum across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal, where his own remains would be buried when he died; the two structures were to have been connected by a bridge. In fact, Aurangzeb (Shah Jahan’s third son with Mumtaz Mahal) deposed his ailing father in 1658 and took power himself. Shah Jahan lived out the last years of his life under house arrest in a tower of the Red Fort at Agra, with a view of the majestic resting place he had constructed for his wife; when he died in 1666, he was buried next to her.

THE COLOUR ‘WHITE’

White is a colour of luxury, clearly depicted in this palace. It is the only colour which is friendly to every emotion, feel and aura. It can enhance as well demarcate itself from the rest. Such magic this colour adds and that is the only reason for this wonder of the world to be the one of the best heritage sites of the world.

Taj Mahal means “Crown Palace” and is in fact the most well preserved tomb in the world. The English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold has described the Taj as “Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones.”

It is a romance celebrated in marble and glorified with precious and semi-precious stones and that’s the way to appreciate it!.

Taj Mahal stands on the bank of River Yamuna, which otherwise serves as a wide moat defending the Great Red Fort of Agra, the center of the Mughal emperors until they moved their capital to Delhi in 1637. It was built by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1631 in memory of his third but the most favourite wife, in fact a soul-mate Mumtaz Mahal, a Muslim Persian princess. She died while accompanying her husband in Burhanpur in a campaign to crush a rebellion after giving birth to their 13th child. The death so crushed the emperor that all his hair and beard were said to have grown snow white in a few months.

When Mumtaz Mahal was still alive, she extracted four promises from the emperor: first, that he build the Taj; second, that he should marry again; third, that he be kind to their children; and fourth, that he visit the tomb on her death anniversary. However, due to ill health and being under house arrest by his own son and successor to the throne, Aurangzeb, barred him from continue to keep the last promise.

The Taj rises on a high red sandstone base topped by a huge white marble terrace on which rests the famous dome flanked by four tapering minarets. Within the dome lies the jewel-inlaid cenotaph of the queen. So exquisite is the workmanship that the Taj has been described as “having been designed by giants and finished by jewellers”. The only asymmetrical object in the Taj is the casket of the emperor which was built beside the queen’s as an afterthought.

Legend has it that during his eight years long ailment and imprisonment, Shah Jahan used to intensly view the Taj lying on the bed through a diamond fixed in the wall in front at a particular angle. WOW!

As a tribute to a woman of exotic beauty and as a monument of a love story, which is keeping us engrossed even when we are reading through these pages here, truely an ever-lasting romance of a love not ended as yet, the Taj reveals its subtleties to its beholder!

The rectangular base of Taj is in itself symbolic of the different sides from which to view a beautiful woman. The main gate is like a veil to a woman’s face which should be lifted delicately, gently and without haste on the wedding night. In Indian tradition the veil is lifted gently to reveal the beauty of the bride. As one stands inside the main gate of Taj, his eyes are directed to an arch which frames the Taj.

The dome is made of white marble, but the tomb is set against the plain across the river and it is this background that works its magic of colours that, through their reflection, change the view of the Taj. The colours change at different hours of the day and during different seasons.

The Taj sparkles like a jewel in moonlight when the semi-precious stones inlaid into the white marble on the main mausoleum catch and reflect back its glow with a better gleam. The Taj is pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden when the moon shines. These changes, they say, depict the different moods of a beauty of any kind.

Different people have different views of the Taj but it would be enough to say that the Taj has a life of its own that leaps out of marble. A masterpiece of the art and science of architecture, a representative of an era called The Mughal Period surpassing any authority to add or de-add anything in any sense in or out of the Taj!

The Taj Mahal stands tall with grace is not just a parable epitome of emotional & eternal love between a man and a woman but for other reasons too.

Emperor Shah Jahan, who commissioned the construction of ‘The Taj’, desired to create it also as a symbol of solemnity, harmony, purity and spirituality as well.
The Taj is not merely a monument of grace and dignity alone. It is, in fact, a message to all mankind that “Pure love is the soul of life”.