Grass weaver from West Bengal
For Asit Baranjana from Medinipur district of West Bengal grass weaving is a way of life. Breaking the geographical factor he is in Goa at the Lokotsav 2017 to display and sell his peculiar artwork. The art form is a legacy from his ancestors, and Asit has been carrying on this tradition and sustaining his family as a grass weaver.
Speaking about the tedious and time consuming procedure involved he says: “The grass that is used to make mats, folding mats and doormats or sling bags and handbags is locally known as ‘madhukati’ and is exclusively found only in fields of Medinipur district. The grass is collected, soaked in water for 24 hours and then dried in the shade. Once the grass is dry we start the weaving process- cutting it into strands, assembling and then stitching them together using thread. Vegetable dyes made from small plants are used to colour the grass products or the thread,” says Asit.
These grass products have a life span of over 10 years, are foldable, washable and free from chemical preservatives.
The products sold by Asit at stall number 249 start from a price range of `200.
Patachitra from Odisha
The scroll paintings of eastern India, known as Patachitra, have fascinated many. However the Odisha Patachitra is different from the Bengal Patachitra. The major difference lies in the material used. While the Bengal Patachitra is drawn on paper, the Odisha Patacitra is painted on handmade canvas, informs Sushant Mahapatra.
It is interesting that the canvas is made from old sarees and a gum from tamarind seed. “We use the worn out sarees that are washed clean; then make a gum out of crushed tamarind seed. We then combine the two to make the canvas. Once the canvas is ready, we sketch the drawing on it and paint it using natural colours made of vegetable dyes and watercolours. Final touches include drawing neat outlines for the paintings.” Since the artists use watercolours, the paintings are better framed as the paint wears off if washed.
The themes are different too, unlike Bengali artists, Odia artists prefer miniature paintings. Sushant says: “Miniature takes a lot of time as it is minute and detailed. This requires skill, patience and takes months to complete; moreover, it also depends on the size of the drawing.” Hindu deities like Krishna, Ganesha, and many others find prominence in the Odisha Patachitra. Sushant comes from a family of Patachitra artists with ten of his family members involved in the art. The items at his stall cost anywhere between `300 and `40,000.
Handmade outfits from Gujarat
Anu Patel from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, works for women from Ahmedabad’s slums who make handmade and naturally dyed cotton clothing including kurtas, skirts, pallazos and sarees. She says: “We extract natural colours from certain fruits or seeds and the fabric is pure cotton. We sell our handmade and natural products under the brand name – ‘Mahima.”
Anu further states that 3200 women are a part of the group, of which around 850 women stitch for the brand. “Mahima Mahila was started in 1998 with only 20 women from Ahmedabad’s slum area to earn a livelihood. The textile mills were closing down and the men had no work,” she says. Today, women are trained in stitching and embroidery while their husbands are involved in tasks other than stitching. Apart from clothing, the stall also sells clutches, purses and trinkets made from the leftover fabric.
Anu has been a part of the Lokotsav over the past 14 years. She seems to have made a mark in the minds of the locals here, as despite her stall getting a new location, her customers come in search of her.
The cost of the items on her stall ranges from `300 to `5000.
Metallic wall hangings from Maharashtra
Mahesh Mowle has been selling his craft of creative metal wall hangings, metallic key chain holders, and clocks at Lokotsav over the last four years. Hailing from Nagpur, Maharashtra, there are five others involved in the art. Elaborating on the making of the metallic wall hangings Mahesh says: “We cut the metal sheet and emboss the design on it. It is then treated with chemicals. Then, the product is coated five times with acrylic colours. Generally it takes three days to complete one item. However the time taken to complete an item also depends on its size.” Despite the fact that the wall hangings are made of metal, there is little worry of it corroding because of the chemical treatment.
The items at his stall are in the price range of Rs 250 and Rs 7,500.
Velvet painting from Rajasthan
The velvet painting from Ajmer, Rajasthan has garnered a lot of attention at Lokotsav this year. The artist Sudhir Kumar, who has been returning to Lokotsav over the last eight years, says: “These paintings are made on black velvet fabric using radium colours which glow especially at night and thus beautify the drawings.” However, the paintings are not washable. “The colours get dull and paint wears off when washed. It’s best to use a dry cloth to dust off the dirt settled on the velvet painting,” he says, further adding that he works with his wife and four other women to make these radiant paintings.
“This year we have new waterproof paintings that have been painted on hardboard and laminated. These paintings are waterproof with matte finish and make beautiful wall hangings,” he says.
The paintings at this stall are priced at Rs 300 onwards.
Handloom weaved art from Uttar Pradesh
It is Badruddin Ansari’s first time at Lokotsav; hailing from Uttar Pradesh he has come to the Goan shores with his unique art of handloom weaving. His stall offers wall hangings with beautiful sceneries and images of the deities made using fabric weaving.
The family business involves seven of Badruddin’s family members, each allotted a specific task. Talking about his first time experience at Lokotsav Badruddin says: “Although the crowd here is huge, there is hardly any sale. People just look, ask for the price and walk away. I hope people buy our product to decorate their homes.”
The price range of the pieces at his stall are from Rs 250 to Rs 3,500.
(Compiled by Sachi Naik and Sheras Fernandes )