Saturday, December 18, 2010


I love this time of the year when the weather is just getting cold and we are just a few weeks away from new beginnings. It is also around this time that craft exhibitions, or mela (fair) as they are called, are held . As a child growing up in Pune I used to accompany my mother to these melas. That is when my love for these exhibitions began. These are great places to buy yourself something unique directly from the craftsmen.  When we were in Mumbai it was the exhibitions by Surabhi Foundation and Kala Ghoda festival that I used to eagerly await. Among many things that I have bought at such melas I still cherish my braided blue, black and white lac (wax) bangle, a beautiful crushed pink silk skirt with golden polka dots and my cat coin purse.

In Bangalore, I had heard a lot about these annual exhibitions at Chitrakala Parishad. This year I got to go for the first time. Organised by Kala Madhyam it was held from Dec3 to Dec 12th. It was one of those exhibitions where you not only get to see the faces behind the beautiful creations but also get to see them at work. The artisans, some National and State awardees had come from all over India. 

This craft mela was a real treat. Apart from the many craft stalls there were henna artists, hair braiding artists and also folk performances. The stalls had everything from wooden block printing blocks to stoneware from Manipur, Kantha work shoes from Kolkata to quilted bags from Gujarat, beaded necklaces and belts to extremely beautiful Tanjore paintings.

What I bought :

Stone utensils at a stall from Manipur. I love them. My father later told me that his mother used to cook in stone utensils known as Kal chatti in the south. Only when he sees it will I know if it is the same kind of stone.

And these Kantha work shoes. The sole is made of jute and these are very comfortable. This is the first time that I saw such work on shoes. Kantha work has traditionally been used only on sarees or dupattas/stoles.

And this beautiful Warli painting. Warli is the name of a tribe from Maharashtra which uses this form of painting to decorate houses.

Some more beauties.

Clockwise from left are wooden blocks for block printing, keychains, quilted coasters with beaded borders and a bracelet. Some blocks had really intricate designs on them. Loved these.

Also bought some bookmarks like this one. These are from Orissa.

I had been wanting to buy a Thanjavur (name of the place where this form of painting originates) or Tanjore painting for a long time. And this time I did. This form of painting, which uses gold foil is centuries old. These paintings have been traditionally those of  Hindu Gods and Goddesses but these days one can even get their portrait done in this style. What I liked about this is the beautiful face of Goddess Laxmi. The artist ( a State awardee) has done a fascinating job. Sadly, it was difficult to capture the beauty of this painting due to light either reflecting from the glass or the foil.
The colours used are mostly natural. The red for the saree comes from Hibiscus.

It is nice to see that these traditional crafts are being presented in new ways thanks to many designers and NGOs who strive to give  traditional art and craft the respect they deserve and also helping the craftsmen to learn, grow and succeed. The heart prays for more success and strength to these hands that make India so beautiful.


  1. Lovely write-up and great purchases. I love the store utensils and the warli paintings a lot. :-)

  2. This is a different stone ware, not exactly kalchatti. My mom had one, the ones from Manipur have a nice sheen, which the kalchatti from south doesn't.

  3. Nice write up! Yes...the stoneware of Manipur is not the same as the traditional Kalchatti. The kalchattis are carved out of a stone whereas the Manipuri craft is : the stone ground to a fine powder and mixed with water in a certain ratio (I think some 5:2) and then beaten to a shape of one's the ones you have bought...and then rubbed with some locally available leaves to get that sheen and colour. I have both..kalchatti as well the Manipur ones!

    1. Hi Padma, I heard kalchatti can break on high heat and so needs extreme care. Are these Manipur ones the same ? OR easier to use? Thank you. Is there any place online or in Bangalore where I can get these Manipur ones ? Thanks again.