Wednesday, 11 March 2015

P A P E R   S T O R I E S

Text : Hina Nitesh

The paper doily

Spring cleaning is always the time to rediscover treasures from the past. This post is courtesy a recent effort at sprucing up my box of odds and ends...From the pages of an old diary, popped out a beautiful paper doily. It was a reminder from a coffee date at Taj with my hubby. I had kept it as a memento from that evening and also because I loved the intricate cutwork - almost like a lace...I looked up the net for paper cutwork and chanced upon another treasure trove of Indian handicraft - the art of paper cutting.

Stories from the life of  Krishna formed the traditional theme...Image Courtesy:

'Sanjhi'  the name given to this art of stenciling is from Mathura (otherwise famous for it peda - a kind of sweetmeat, for the uninitiated). The artist just needs a pair of special scissors and paper to cut out intricate forms. The pattern is drawn on the paper and cut. The stencil thus made was used for rangoli or floor decoration. it would be placed on the floor and colored powder sifted through it. Slowly the pattern on the paper would get transferred to the floor.

An artist at work...Image Courtesy:

A closer look at the intricate cutting...Image Courtesy: 

Traditionally, the artisans used make stencils with religious themes. Mathura being the land of Krishna, the art form mostly depicted themes from his life like the rasleela. For the artist, it had a spiritual side to it. 

Sanjhi with religious overtones...Image

Radha Krishna - the traditional theme...Image Courtesy:

Later with the coming of Mughals, new patterns were added to the artists' portfolio. Intricate jaali patterns, flowers and animals started appearing in the works of artisans.

New designs...Image Courtesy:
Image Courtesy: 

For any craft form to survive, it needs to develop and grow with the times. Sanjhi requires the artist to use his hands to cut the paper - a process that is time consuming. Especially with laser cutting techniques available which can do the same job in a jiffy, there are few takers for manual cutting. This has obviously effected the craft so there are a handful of practitioners left for the job.

Finding new expression - sanjhi as a paperlamp,..Image Courtesy:

Giving a new definition to the craft is Pooja Ajmera. Her venture TeekhiiChhurii, was born out of a need for gifting something unique for an occasion. She turned to Sanjhi and there was no looking back after this. Pooja has included contemporary themes in her works which makes it easy for people to identify with it. The idea that design can be customised for the occasion is what makes the art form special.

Contemporary twist to the traditional art...Image Courtesy:

Its not just about images...Image Courtesy: 
Customizing the handmade product... Image Courtesy:

The venture does give a new lease of life to the otherwise dying craft. However, today the need is for more people to come forward with ideas and innovations to help preserve the traditional craft form for the coming generations. As long as an individual can find passion in the venture, it can be rooted against the changing tides.

Expressing a little humour with sanjhi...Image Courtesy:

For more details check on Sanjhi check out Craft Revival

For details on Pooja Ajmera's work check out Teekhii Chhurii 

 Text & creative layout copyrights: Onthedesignboat   
"Like" our facebook page & stay connected with On the Design Boat