Traditional craft, which are rooted in social, religious and cultural customs need commercially viable forums to popularise them. One such platform for rural artisans is Dastkar society which organises regular fairs across the country.
The Dastkar Desert Crafts Bazaar, which is presently on display, showcases the traditional work of craftsmen from the desert areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan -- bringing minutely painted Pichwai painting from Baewar, Rajasthan to cotton textiles from Gujarat. The fair, with its 103 stalls, displays paper art and stationery, metal, wood, textiles, paintings, leather, iron works, junk jewellery and even traditional food and drinks from these states.
Anwar Ali, 48, a social development worker from NGO Disha in Rajasthan’s Churu district, tells Metrolife, “We bring together artisans who are trying to make ends meet while sustaining their traditional craft such as wooden carvings. He adds, “We are trying to make that art stay so that people and even the craftsmen do not leave the craft. We are hopeful that those who seriously respect art and craft will come and buy.” While selling directly to the consumers, craftsmen understand what the consumer is looking for. Says 40 year old, state award winner for miniature art, Nandu Sharma, “People come and enquire about our work when we display it on such a platform and in turn we come to know what they want, and even get direct feedback.” He, however, rues the fact that out of the 27 schools of painting that used to be there in Rajasthan, hardly 6-7 remain now. “New people want to be MBAs and want to get into Google,” says Sharma.
On display are the Pichwai paintings, that are used to adorn the walls of temples, behind the idol. The Pichwai style is from the Nathdwara School in Rajasthan, and is identified by characteristic features like large eyes, broad nose and a heavy body, similar to the features on the idol of Shrinathji, an incarnation of Lord Krishna.Different paintings are made for different occasions, seasons, festivals, and so on. While the painting has
pink lotuses in the summer, the painting for ‘Sharad Purnima’ is a night scene with the bright full moon. Themes such as RaasLeela, Holi, Annakut (Govardhan Puja) are also seen in their relevant occasions.
“We paint the child forms of Krishna, Ram, and their leelas which are our central themes. Cows are considered holy and they are also depicted significantly in the works. Special pointed brushes made from squirrel’s tails are used for the work,” says Sharma who sits with National Award winner Pichwai miniature artist Kalyanmal Sahu, 59. From sarees to herbal products, chappals to neem combs and earrings, the bazaar lives up to the theme. On offer is a refreshing food court which offers aloo-poori to lemon tea to even cakes.
Naina Sachdeva whose stall sells variety of confectionaries from Oat cookies to Chocolate Chip cookies to Brownies and Lemon Drizzle Cakes tells Metrolife, “I bake home-made healthy cakes. My USP is that I try and use natural flavours and use little oil and sugar. I have been participating for many seasons now.” The place is difficult to miss for the shopping brigade. Says a visitor, Manohar Prasad, “I loved the minute paintings and the sarees that I bought for my wife. They are reasonably priced and I get to meet the people who create them which assures me of the quality as well.” Dastkar Desert Crafts Bazaar is till August 31 from 11 am to 8 pm at Nature Bazaar, Andheria Modh, Chattarpur.