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Lounge Preview | Back to your roots

LiveMint logoLiveMint 09-05-2014 Pooja Singh

Peep into a kavad and you will feel like Alice in Wonderland. The brightly painted wooden box, constructed like a shrine, has secret compartments and panels that unfold to tell a story. “A storyteller opens (and closes) these doors in sequence of the events in his story,” says kavad artist Dwarka Prasad Jhangid of Chittorgarh’s Bassi village, Rajasthan, where this art form originated 500 years ago. Jhangid, who has over 40 years of experience, will be in New Delhi next month to conduct a four-day workshop on how to make a kavad and narrate stories with it.

This class is part of a series of traditional art and craft workshops being organized for both children and adults from 26 May-25 June by non-profits Happy Hands Foundation and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach). Called “Art Pitara”, the series will include workshops on leather puppets, terracotta tiles and mask-making, and folk arts.

“The underlying idea of this initiative is to bring people closer to the rich art forms in the country, many of which are losing their significance, and spread awareness and appreciation about our cultural heritage,” says Nerupama Y. Modwel, director, intangible cultural heritage, a division of Intach.

The workshops will be conducted by visiting craftsmen/tribal artists from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. “Only when we learn the traditional arts from master craftsmen can we truly value the skill, hard work and imagination that goes into creating each piece,” says Modwel.

Gunduraju of Karnataka (who uses only one name) will teach leather puppetry—from making goat-skin puppets to creating a puppet show. “Making a leather puppet is a strenuous process. First, the skin needs to be cleaned thoroughly, and then the shape is carved and painted with natural dyes,” explains Gunduraju, who has over 50 years of experience. He hopes to revive interest in leather puppetry through his workshop, especially among children.

You also have the choice of learning mask-making from Merugoju Madhu of Andhra Pradesh’s Cheriyal village, whose family is one of the only three remaining that make these masks today. The masks, used as decorative items, are made with a combination of tamarind seed paste and sawdust powder.

There will be hands-on workshops on three forms of tribal art. Dilip Shyam from Madhya Pradesh will teach participants Gond painting, formulated to express the way of life of the Gond tribal community, while Sebati Swain of Odisha will offer lessons on Soara painting on mediums like Tussar silk. There’s also the option of learning pithoras, the ritualistic painting of Rajasthan, by Dilip S.

“Art Pitara” will be on from 26 May-25 June at the Intach Art Conservation Centre, 71, Lodi Estate, New Delhi. Timings and dates for workshops vary. Fees start at `1,200. Registration closes on 16 May. To register and for details, visit

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