“If At First the Idea Is Not Absurd, Then There Is No Hope for It”

--------Albert Einstein

Sometimes, a brilliant idea is shadowed because it is not duly accepted by everyone. Either the idea is dull or it is way ahead of the time in which it is presented. Many great thinkers, writers, actors, painters and scientists met severe criticisms in their lives and later, their revolutionary thoughts were accepted and praised.

The above-mentioned quote of the celebrated theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein enlightens the need for taking chances while doing some creative work. It happens very seldom that a creative but non-conventional idea emerged without taking any risks and backlashes.

But, if a plan has the spark to ignite an intellectual awakening in the minds of people, it is approved and widely publicized. Every cloud has a silver lining. Therefore, the forgotten days of the idea also come to an end one day and it becomes the fashion.

Similarly, some folk and traditional paintings of India haven’t been granted the acclaim they should get. Today, I will introduce you to the lesser-known art forms of our incredible India.

Uttarakhandi Apian

Kumaoni homes are often seen bedecked by decorative articles and paintings belonging to Aipan style. It is known by different names such as ‘Aepan’ or ‘Alpana’. It is derived from the term ‘Arpan’ meaning grant or offering.

Uttarakhandi Apian - traditional-paintings

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 In folk culture, this art is commonly referred to as ‘Likhai’. Likhai translates to writing in English but this term creates an illusion that Aipan patterns are made from brushes, pens and stencils. To the contrary, they are made using fingers.

Motifs painted in Alpana paintings are purely ritualistic in nature. The designs sketch distinct phases of life, like birth, janeyu, marriage and death. The canvas could be anything from a wall to paper and a piece of cloth. Gods, goddesses and natural objects are central subject matters of Alpana themes which are decorated in geometrical styles peculiar to this art. Pichauraas or Dupattas are decorated in a similar manner.

Harela is a festival celebrated on the auspicious occasion of the wedding of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati. This tradition is being followed from the Neo-lithic period symbolizing the new harvest for the rainy season. Clay statues of Shiva and Parvati are known as Dikare and Dikars respectively are made and worshipped. The raw material used for making the idols consists of Ochre( Gheru ki mitti) which is considered sacred in most parts of India and is a fine paste of rice. Aepan patterns are then drawn on these idols using last three fingers. Chowkies made from the wood of a mango tree, pattas and thapas are designed in a similar fashion.

Also Read: Traditional Paintings: The Ideal Way to Cherish the Presence of Divine

Odisha’s Saora Paintings-

The hilly areas of Koratpur, Gunpur, Ganjam, Gajapati districts in southern parts of Odisha are inhabited by a tribal community named Lanjia Saora. Idital is the name given to a Saora painting and the creator of the painting is known as the Iditalmar. They are drawn to appease the Saora ancestors who may have inflicted some injury or disease onto village inhabitants.

Odishas Saora Paintings - traditional-paintings

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The painter paints as per the direction is given by a Shaman. He is the link between the worlds of the living and the dead. The sun, moon and icons of spirits and ghosts form the subject matter of the paintings mixed with modern bicycles, cars and airplanes.

According to a popular belief, there are around 64 motifs being drawn by iditalmars in a Saora painting including Labasum-the earth god, Manduasum-the sun deity, Jodisun-the village god, Janangalosum-the wind god.

 “An Iditalmar follows stringent sacred rituals by eating one meal a day for 10-15 days until the painting is completed. Before the painting is made, the wall is cleaned and smeared with locally available red soil, then rice paste is prepared as the white colour for painting with bamboo sticks [instead of brushes,” according to Purusottam Patnaik, Researcher, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI), Bhubaneswar.

 To make the painting more emphatic and visually attractive, ultramarine shades of blue and black are used often. Sometimes, palm twigs are used by beating it down to be used as a brush to paint. Any kind of adhesive or pasting agent is not mixed with colours to fix the paint on the walls.

Nirmal Paintings of Andhra Pradesh

This style of painting takes its name from Nirmal town of Nirmal district earlier known as Adilabad in recently found state of Telangana. The craftsmen who make these paintings are called ‘Naqaash’. This exotic art is recognized and acknowledged across the art world. Unlike other folk and traditional paintings, where most of them are based on mythical anecdotes only, Nirmal paintings feature regal ambience to rustic flora and fauna. It is said that the origin of this art dates back to the ancient era of Kakatiya Dynasty which existed around the 14th century.

Nirmal Paintings of Andhra Pradesh - traditional paintings

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Influence of Kangra and Ajanta School of Indian Art and Mughal miniatures can be seen explicitly. It has been proved by historical evidence that this art was supported by Mughals. Once, the Nizam of Hyderabad was received with a grand welcome on his visit to Nirmal.  An intricately designed banana bud designed by local artisans was suspended over Nizam’s seat. A cascade of flowers descended upon him when the bud was unfurled. Nizam was so impressed and happy that he patronized all the artisans. Lady Hyder promoted this craft by bringing the Nirmal artisans to Hyderabad under the Cottage industries division.

The procedure followed in the making of these traditional paintings starts from cutting of wood to the required size in rectangular frames. The wooden board is then smoothened by rubbing with sandpaper. Luppam paint is applied five to six times on soft white wood surface known as Puniki, obtained from Tella Poniki tree. The paint helps in absorbing the moisture from the wood thus increasing the lifetime of painting.  Now, artisans also use Indian teak wood for painting boards because of its strength, texture and quality.

Also Read: 6 Tips to Help You Choose the Finest Indian Traditional Paintings for Your Gallery Wall

These styles are now gradually gaining fame and recognition on both national and international platforms. Indian Art Ideas supports the endeavors of the artisans who re-incarnate these beautiful painting styles and bringing them into the art world’s mainstream.