I have attended a couple of (what else?) art and crafts exhibitions and also had a look around the famous 'Pottery town' as well as some 'rasta pottery' or 'roadside pottery' stuff sold by some tribals. And came away even more enlightened than before. I was reminded of the words of the great Chinese thinker and philosopher Confucius, "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it".
I was extremely disappointed to know that I had missed out on the 'Chhattisgarh Handloom and Handicrafts Exhibition' at the same venue by a matter of only three days. I learnt that the main attraction were Kosa Saree, dress material, Kosa Malmal, salwar suit, Jackets, Cotton Saree, Suit, Bed Sheet, Cotton Suiting, Pillow Cover, Parda Cloth, Luhangi, Towel, different items of Bellmetal (Deepdan), Terrakotta, Wooden Craft and Bamboo Craft.
The 'Cottage Mela' displayed a splendid collection of crafts for the festive season with over sixty craftspersons participating.
I was both intrigued and fascinated with this kind of work and decided to learn more about Minakari. Here is what I gathered.
Enamelling or minakari is the art of colouring and ornamenting the surface of metals by fusing over it brilliant colours that are decorated in an intricate design. The Mughals invented the art of enamel or minawork metalcraft and it was popular with both the Mughals and the Hindu princes of Rajasthan where it was used for creating precious objects and enriching jewellery. Gold has been used traditionally for minakari jewellery as it holds the enamel better, lasts longer and its lustre brings out the colours of the enamels. Silver, a later introduction, is used for artefacts like boxes, bowls, spoons, and art pieces while Copper which is used for handicraft products were introduced only after the Gold Control Act, which compelled the minakars to look for a material other than gold, was enforced in India.
Next, I moved on to a store selling wall hangings. These were quite unique. I was told that this was a craft from Varanasi. The wall hangings were made on a jute cloth/background and were of two kinds. One, in which numerous designs with silk threads were done on the jute cloth. Sceneries, animals, birds, etc., formed these designs. These usually took three days to complete, each design, that is. The other type was in which designs were done with jute threads on the jute background. These took four days to complete. Here again the designs were various sceneries, animals, birds, etc. The wall hangings came in different sizes and were lovely to look at. There were silk shawls, silk wall hangings on a silk background, zari work, bags, among other stuffs on display. I bought one wall hanging (with designs made with jute threads) depicting an elephant with two huge white tusks walking on dark green grass. I was told that these were washable. This now adorns yet another wall of my house giving it an interesting touch.
Photograph: A painted 'pot' - a craft item displayed at one of the 'Cottage Melas.'