Wall Paintings of Hazaribagh

Situated at about 2000 feet above sea level, Hazaribagh is a thickly forested region in the heart of the Damodar river valley. Ancient rock art sites have been discovered here,like the famous Isko site in Hazaribagh town. The forms and motifs of prehistoric art of ancient tribes like Khurmi, Ganju, Santhals and Oraons who live here. While entire tribal villages have elaborately painted houses,two varieties are outstanding: Khovar and Sohrai paintings.

Much like the bridal chambers of Mithila, Khovar paintings have fertility symbols celebrating union and propagation. Bird motifs,especially the parrots and peacocks,are popular,as are fruit bearing trees. They are mostly made in the wedding season,which extends from January to May.

Sohrai is observed during November to December celebrating the harvesting. Cattle are cleaned and worshiped ,as are agricultural implements,like the plough. Sohrai paintings characteristically have a male god, Pashupati (popularly known as Lord Shiva), the lord of animals shown standing on the back of a bull.

Though tribal khovar and sohrai paintings have not had the market exposure that Madhubani paintings have had,the region has enormous craft energy waiting to be tapped.

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Snakes & Peacocks
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Shiva, riding on his bull Nandi
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A hut with wall painting
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Animals
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Life

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Sujni: Traditional Embroidary From Bihar

Sujuni, is a traditional craft of Bihar. It is made by women and depicts the animal, bird and day to day activities of village life. It is technically done by straight running stitch embroidery on layered cotton.Women quilt together old sari and other pieces of cloth with tiny running stitches,and embroider these beautifully. The product is a quilt-cum-bedspread,sometimes stuffed with tattered cloth to give it added thickness. Sujuni is labour intensive-the number of stitches per square inch varies from 105-210. A fine running stitch all over the sheet in the same colour as the base cloth creates the background upon which motifs are outlined in chain stitch. The design is then filled in with tiny rumming stitches in coloured thread. An age-old practice among women in almost all parts of the country, what makes sujuni remarkable is the unique narrative elements in its embroidery. Women stitch their experience, their sorrows and their realities on the sujuni,transforming a mundane quilt into a testimony of their lives. Each sujuni tells a tale-the trauma of being a woman in a man`s world,domestic violence, female infanticide, effects of alcoholism and gambling on a family and similar issues.Social concerns like evils of dowry, education of girls, lessons in health-care and AIDS are also depicted. Thus each sujuni becomes a testament of personal trials or of social change.

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Old sujunis had motifs from religion,nature and daily life.The shift in narrative themes is recent,after voluntary organizations encouraged women to stitch their lives, so to say, on the sujunis. Efforts by concerned agencies to contemporize sujuni have struck gold-not only has a product diversification been achieved, sujuni had also entered the international market,like Busra,an important productin cluster in Muzaffarpur, sujuni has changed the story of many a woman`s life.

Phulkari: Traditional Dress of Punjab

It started in Patiala state of Punjab in India. Patiala rose to prominence amongst many princely states of Punjab before independence. Phul means flowers and Kar means the work. So Phulkari literally means Flower Work on the rough heavy cotton.  Throughout the Punjab, in the Hindu,Muslim and Sikh communities alike, women embroider Odhanis (veils) or Chaddar (wraps) ornamented with Phulkar, literally “flower work” and Bagh, garden, a variation where the embroidery completely covers the support material. The support fabric is most often an auspicious dark red, or more rarely, an indigo blue or a white reserved for elderly women, on which the embroidery is executed in untwisted floss silk called pat, sourced from Kashmir, Afghanistan and Bengal and dyed yellow,orange,burgundy,bright pink, purple, blue and green in Amritsar and Jammu. Darning stitch is used to embroider from the reverse side of the fabric, with the longer float on the face, thus allowing large surfaces to be densely embroidered with economy. Aside from their everyday use as veils, the Phulkari is integrated into the lives of the women. and is an indispensable element in ceremonies, especially those concerning birth,death and marriage. When a girl child is born, the women of the family organize a great feast, marking the beginning of the task of the child`s grandmother in creating the future bride`s trousseau. The most significant items of the trousseau are the chope, a reversible Phulkari worked double running stitch and wrapped around the bride after the ritual bath two days before the wedding, and the suber phulkari, composed of five eight petaled lotuses, worn by the bride when she walks around the sacred fire during the wedding ceremony. A phulkari is also worn 11 days after the birth of a son, when the mother goes out for the first time after delivery, and when visiting a temple during religious festivals to request prosperity and happiness for loved ones.