Papier Mache – The Story of Odia Mukha and its Master Artisan

Imagine Odisha or in that matter rural India before economy was made open in 1990s and penetration of cheap Chinese goods in rural market. Imagine rural Odisha before the flooding of television channels’ cheap entertainment shows such as Sas Bahu and the spread of much hyped social media and free mobile phone entertainment. Festivals and…

Etching Krishna and his Childhood

Tall and short, the tree grows in abundance on coast of Odisha, both in cluster and in solitary.  It is one of the palm trees, in Odia called Tala Gachha. The tree may not have cultural or religious significance unlike the sacred banyan tree but its leaves are the most sought after material for creative…

Appliqué – Celebrating Colours of Odisha

Think of the famous Rath Yatra or Car Festival of Puri that is held every year in July – August. Think of the brightly coloured chariots of Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra and Sister Devi Subhadra. Think of the gorgeously colourful appliqué sheets that are used to protect the gods and goddesses from the…

Life in Terracotta – Tile Craft of Barpali

Our story begins at Gobekli Tepe in Eurasian Turkey. For archaeologists, Gobekli Tepe is a goldmine of information on Late Stone Age life, 12,000 years back in time, when world’s climate was at stake with the return of short Ice Age, known as the Younger Dryas. At this critical juncture of climate change, with its…

Dhokra – The Living Bronze Age Craft of Odisha

‘There is little Baluchi-style face with pouting lips and insolent look in the eye. She’s about 15 years old I should think, not mere, but she stand there with bangles all the way up her arm and nothing else on. A girl perfectly, for the moment, perfectly confident of herself and the world. There is…

Odisha’s Tulsi Chauras – Devotion in Terracotta

Oh Tulasi You who are beloved of Vishnu You who fulfil the wishes of the devout I will bathe you You are the mother of the world Give me the blessings of Vishnu   Oh Tulasi Within your roots are all sacred places of the world And inside your stem live all the Gods and…

Kala Bhoomi – The Soul of Utkala

‘Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha Dravida, Utkala, Banga’ When Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore composed India’s national anthem he preferred the name Utkala, instead of Orissa, the anglicized name of Odisha or Kalinga, an ancient kingdom from the times of Ashoka. An art connoisseur and an artist himself, Tagore’s choice indicates his appreciation for Odisha’s unique art and…

Travel Shot – Cheriyal Art of Telangana

It was that time of the evening when all had gathered to listen to stories. The stories of ancestors beyond what granny knew or could remember, stories of heroes that made them proud, stories that they would sleep with and dream about. Today, the Kunapulis were coming to perform Markandeya Puranam for the Padmasalis and…

Rogan Art – A journey from the Sindh to White House

Roughly 400 years back an art was introduced to Kutch from Sindh, thanks to the Raos of Kutch who deeply appreciated art. Called ‘Rogan’, the art however declined due to the lack of patronage with the passage of time. Only a few local Ahir and Rabari women would buy bridal skirts filled with Rogan art…

Ajrakh – A Journey with Dr. Ismail Mohammad Khatri

For an archaeologist from South Asia such as me, what could be a more precious discovery than the Priest King of Mohenjo-Daro! Archaeologists have been debating on his role and position in Indus Valley society, but for those who are inclined towards aesthetics and art they are fascinated with his shawl depicting trefoil patterns interspersed…