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Dying art forms in the modern art world

A brief overview…

India has a rich cultural diversity in the field of art, literature and its people. Unfortunately, due to the rapid rate of modernization, traditional Indian art forms are facing its brunt and are slowly fading away into extinction. There are several governmental schemes to preserve these dying art forms. However, most of us are not aware of these practices at all. Hence, spreading knowledge and awareness about India’s art forms is the need of the hour. 

We shall be looking at a few artforms that are on the verge of extinction, and need to be revived. 

Paitkar: Dying art form from the state of Jharkhand

Image source: Village Square 

Paitkar art is deeply rooted in the rich cultural heritage of the tribal communities in Jharkhand. It gets its name from the Sanskrit word, “pata” which means cloth. Hence, the dying art form Paitkar means painting on cloth. Traditionally, it was made using only natural colours and elements obtained from soil, stones, leaves and limestone. 

The different motifs and styles of Paitkar art serve as a visual representation of their customs, traditions and religious beliefs. Paitkar artworks are filled with mythological figures and deities, meant to invoke a feeling of protection and divinity. The community believes that by painting this dying art form during ceremonies, they would be blessed by Lord Shiva and Lord Durga from Hindu mythology. 

Paitkar art is an example of artistic excellence and attention to detail. It fosters a sense of community belonging, by having one common visual language binding all the people. Additionally, it leads to community bonding and creates a close-knit social group that will pass down their knowledge of art form to its next generation. 

Manjusha: The dying art form of Bihar

Image source: Echoes of Time 

Manjusha art is a close cousin of the highly commercialised Madhubani art form. It has a distinctive visual style, featuring bold colours and geometric patterns. The beauty of a Manjusha painting lies in its simplicity in idea and complexity in design. In the modern world, Manjusha artists come together through exhibitions and workshops to spread their community of ideas. 

Typically, Manjusha drawings depict scenes from epic folklore such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. They impart morals and lessons taught by Manjusha artists through imagery and symbolism of colours. During the month of Bhadra in Hindu culture, artists create Manjusha paintings as offerings to Goddess Bhagvati, which symbolises devotion, harmony and auspiciousness. 

The practice of Manjusha art provides employment opportunities to artists and supports their livelihood. In addition, it gives them a feeling of pride and empowerment in their finished work. Their intricate designs and patterns are based on the use of just three main colours- pink, yellow and green. 

Rogan: An art form of former Persia

Image source: Rooftop

Rogan art is closely associated with the rich textile tradition of Gujarat, where this dying art form settled around three centuries ago. It is famous for its intricate embroidery, vibrant colours and exquisite craftsmanship. The designs and patterns of the new adaptation of Rogan art in Gujarat are very similar to that of the Parsi embroidery sarees, known as Garas

Rogan painted fabrics are versatile in their usage. Common motifs used in this dying art form are usually floral patterns, peacocks and elephants. They can be made into garments, curtains, wall hangings and even accessories for your home. It contributes to the aesthetic appeal and adds a touch of elegance of the room. 

The process of making Rogan art involves heating castor oil until it reaches a certain consistency, then using a metal rod to transfer the oil carefully onto the cloth canvas to form different designs. Since this art requires long hours of continuous work and a close eye to detail, the finished product gives a sense of accomplishment and empowerment to its artisans. 

Click here to know more about Gara embroidery sarees. 

Kalighat: Dying art form of West Bengal 

Image source: ESamskriti 

Kalighat paintings predominantly depict themes and scenes from Hindu folklore and religious traditions. They feature scenes from the lives of Gods, Goddesses and deities from Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas. Several subjects speak about devotional practices associated with the Kalighat temple dedicated to Goddess Kali. 

This art form is characterised by its distinct style, bold lines, vibrant colours and extensive brushwork. Innovation is a very important aspect of the Kalighat art form. Artists employ a combination of traditional Indian techniques with Western influences to form a newer artistic fusion of the eastern and western worlds. 

A unique part about Kalighat art is that it is accessible to the common people, and made on paper or cloth. Anybody could purchase them as souvenirs, decorative items or religious offerings for their homes. Kalighat paintings were never commercialised in Calcutta or anywhere else in the world, which could be the reason for its downfall. 

Kalighat as a dying artform also serves as a social commentary of the times, reflecting the socio- economic reality. Cultural norms and everyday life of 19th Century Calcutta were strict and under regime. These paintings serve as documentaries, which offer insights into the historic, social, cultural and political outlook of the people. 

Image source: Cottage9

Summing it all up… 

Just like these few names mentioned above, there are numerous other dying art forms that need our attention and support to revive them. However, the first step is to learn about the origin and culture of these art forms. 

To learn more about art forms, download the Rooftop app from Google Play or App Store to stay updated on our upcoming art events and workshops. Stay tuned to rooftop blogs and follow us on @rooftop_app

By Freya Bulsara

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