Tanjore Art

Tanjore Art

Tanjore or Tanjavur art immediately brings to mind gold, precious stones and cherubic Krishnas. It is the art of the royalty which truly flourished as it is today under the rule of the Marathas. Initially adorning walls of temples and palaces, it slowly moved to planks made of teak and rose wood. An elaborate process of preparation is involved in getting the plank ready for the work of art. In the earlier days, the artist would create a piece as per the patron’s wish including the precious stones provided by the patron himself. This was a form of sacrifice, where the riches go back to the Lord but adorn the patron’s house.

Tanjore Art by D Sreenivas

Tanjore Art by D Sreenivas

 

I truly admire the will of the artists to have even to this day maintained the same process on the planks as on the walls. But with the intervention of modern techniques and supplies being available, many of the laborious processes have been tweaked to give the same effect with less pain. This has its advantages as well as disadvantages. Where the end product remains the same, many argue that the natural materials enhance the beauty of the painting over time. Though materials are more easily available when we opt for the modern techniques, the processes largely remain the same.

Tanjore Art by D Sreenivas

Tanjore Art by D Sreenivas – Work in Progress

 

Mr. D Sreenivas is one such artist who has been working on Tanjore art and Mysore art for more than 20 years now. He tells me that initially it was only teak or rosewood planks being joined together and used as the base. His large repertoire of work consists of the three broad categories of Tanjore, the ones devoted to Vaishnavism, Shaivism and the last one of kings, saints and others. Tanjore art mainly portrays Gods and Godesses as the main icon under the canopy or Prabhavali flanked by other gods, humans and animals. In the earlier paintings, gold was not used as extensively as in the later mid 19th century paintings. The earlier works also had influences of the west where angels could be seen in the sky showering flowers on the diety. In the present context most of the paintings have large isolated deities compared to the more elaborately composed works of the yesteryears.

 

Tanjore Art by D Sreenivas

Tanjore Art by D Sreenivas Work in progress

 

In the earlier days, the canvas consisted of sliced wood planks over which a cardboard would be pasted and over that two layers of cloth. The glue used in those days was made of tamarind seeds. After which white lime paste formed the base to toughen the canvas. This lime paste actually later reacted with the colours making them brighter over the years. In the current format most of the artists use cartridge sheet as the base. The lime paste canvas was then smoothened with a polishing stone and the sketch drawn. An adhesive paste was then formed using raw unboiled lime with the glue of a local tree. The main attraction of Tanjore art is the three dimensional effect given by this layer of paste. Applying two layers gives it a raised platform mainly used to depict and engrave the architectural details, the canopies and jewellery. On this raised part the gold foil is applied and precious stones placed after demarcating and cutting out the gold foil in the identified areas. The remaining portion is then painted. The colours that stand out are pink, green, blue.

Tanjore Art by D Sreenivas

Tanjore Art by D Sreenivas

 

Mr Sreenivas has done several paintings ranging from the tiniest frames to the huge ones. Having loved art from a very young age, he says his notebooks had more drawings than notes. Choosing to follow his passion for art, he pursued a course offered at Chitrakala Parishat in Traditional art and also had mentors in the field of art. He also teaches Tanjore and Mysore art to art enthusiasts. Some of his Tanjore paintings and some work in progress which he generously shared with me have been featured here. Strings of heritage will be collaborating with Mr. Sreenivas in this coming year to bring the beauty of Tanjore to many more homes. Will post updates on workshops shortly.

 

Until then, twinkles to all of you.

Anupama

Bakula Nayak

Bakula Nayak

Here I am writing of an artist, Bakula Nayak whose work is a love story with elements of the fairy tale and whimsy. And I can only think of what a lovely person she is. Shall I tell you of the artist, her journey, her work or her home? It’s been days since we met and the post is pending as I wanted to include her video, which is yet to happen. But even after so many days, I can still feel her exuberance, her positive vibes and her creative instincts. Having visited her home, seen the books she loves, the artwork she chooses to display (none of her own!), her notepad of sketches and ideas, her love for the ordinary and the extraordinary, I can see why I am so muddled and lost for words. Bakula is the fragrant flower who spreads the joy of love through art, but has a sad place in her heart from where soulful poetry flows.

Bakula Nayak - An Artist's Journey

Bakula Nayak – An Artist’s Journey

 

Bakula Nayak - An Artist's Journey

Two cozy rabbits – Art by Bakula Nayak

 

I first came across her artwork in Facebook, which had a lovely pair of birds having tea and her trademark was the vintage paper she used as her base and inspiration. One good thing about blogging is that you lose all inhibitions you would otherwise have. So I immediately connected with her and wanted to meet her. When I meet someone like Bakula Nayak, it makes me very grateful for my work. Otherwise how else would I have met such a wonderful person? Luckily we have a connection and she shares her life with me. Having lost her parents, she treasures their love letters she came across a long time after. Having only seen them as an ordinary couple who never publicly expressed their love, she tells me that it was a revelation for her. Seeing all her drawings treasured by them, brought it all back and she started drawing after a gap of nearly twenty years.

Bakula Nayak - An Artist's Journey

Birds! Seeing this my child asks me if they are her mummy and daddy? A child’s favorite subject…And yes they are her parents!

 

Bakula Nayak - An Artist's Journey

Birds, tea and a garden. All that Bakula loves.

 

Flashback -Though her first love was always design, she could not attend the interview at NID as her father was against her leaving Bangalore. With limited options she completed Architecture, but decided to study design in the US after her engineering. “It wasn’t easy, especially as I had to follow the heavy Southern accent, use the internet and live alone in a foreign country.” But she did manage and came back to be with her mother who was suffering from cancer. Her mother’s only wish was to see her daughter married and Bakula relented. With just a few emails she knew that she had found her soul mate in her husband and they got married. Her mother’s health improved dramatically after the marriage and she lived for some more months happy that her daughter was finally married. She talks of happier times, the drawing competitions she would prepare for, the prize that she received from Rekha (the popular Bollywood actress) and rolling shields. Her mother would always encourage her to conceptualize and plan before she started drawing. She had to draw events from the newspaper such as Indira Gandhi’s cremation and that habit helps her plan her sketches even to this day. She extends the same encouragement to her children and I saw one of her son’s painting which was awesome.

Bakula Nayak - An Artist's Journey

Bakula Nayak’s workspace

 

Bakula Nayak - An Artist's Journey

Motherhood

 

Inspiration –Bakula Nayak finds inspiration everywhere. Her Unplugged series is a witness to her curiosity and attempt to bring the extraordinary to the common man in a simplified and child like manner so as to render it accessible. Tyagayya unplugged, Sangam unplugged, In Adoration of Krishna are her unplugged series where she decodes and demystifies. What connects me to Bakula is that each of these unplugged series is her personal journey, her understanding of the each of these subjects “which picked her rather than the other way around”. I feel the same way with my blog posts, they are my journey, my learning and experience which I share with all of you.

Bakula Nayak - An Artist's Journey

Interpretation of the Pichwais . Art by Bakula Nayak

 

UnpluggedTyagayya was one of the greatest composers of Carnatic music  who wrote musical compositions in Telugu using that which he found in everyday life. Bakula Nayak happened upon the translation in English and rendered it in watercolours. This series sees Rama and Lakshmana sharing a moment of brotherly love but as birds. The Yamuna in another painting is shown in all her splendor as a kind mother who loves all the flora and fauna around and in her. I loved this elaborate painting. Nauka Charitham shows Krishna as a bird, where he works up a storm so that the Gopikas who were teasing him will have to ask his help and be humbled. Sangam unplugged is Tamil poetry on love and war. In Bakula’s words she “only knows Love” as a mother, an artist and a lover. With any tragedy in our lives, it becomes difficult to keep our faith in God and her faith was shaken with the death of her parents. ‘In Adoration of Krishna’ explores her relationship with Hari and the more formal settings of the Pichwai paintings find their place on Bakula’s canvas showing aspects of motherly love with a cow and calf, and divine love with a pair of herons. With the final painting, she says that she just could not do it and Hari had abandoned her. It is this creative honesty which is so much a part of Bakula that endears her. Her signature style of whimsical on vintage paper is usually presented in collaboration with artists from other spheres.

Bakula Nayak - An Artist's Journey

Romantic love -An interpretation of Romantic love. Art by Bakula Nayak

 

Bakula Nayak - An Artist's Journey

The Yamuna river forms a part of the Tyagayya Unplugged series

 

Collections –She collects anything and everything vintage. Right from matchboxes, matchbox holders, frames, mirrors, photos to aftershave lotion bottles fashioned like cars. I loved her collection of antiques and her ‘vintage stash’. But off course with Bakula, it’s the birds you see everywhere.

Vintage collection- Bakula Nayak

Bakula Nayak’s love for all that is old

 

Bakula Nayak - An Artist's Journey

Bakula Nayak – An Artist’s Journey

 

Bakula shows me a passage from a book that she is reading and it’s all about the ‘creative surplus’ in an artist which creates an interaction and ‘impels the artist to love and understand the world for its own sake.’ With inspiration, Bakula dips into books to understand and love the world. Bakula Nayak is an inspiration to explore all that is within you waiting to be explored and let free. It is not just her art, but her courage in exploring an aspect of herself which had not seen the light for twenty long years. Her courage in fighting back when her health is not great and losing herself in art which only shows love. Her poetry is a small window to her soul but she chooses to assert with love. Her home is a reflection of her personality and I have some lovely glimpses from her home. But that is for another day. Until then stay inspired. Light up from within.

 

Bakula Nayak - An Artist's Journey

Bakula Nayak – An Artist’s Journey

 

Bakula Nayak - An Artist's Journey

The bird is lost in the melodies just as we lose ourselves in the beauty of these paintings. Art by Bakula Nayak.

 

Lots of Twinkles to all of you.

Happy Diwali.

Anupama

PS – Images of artwork by Bakula Nayak are her property and need her permission to be used.

 

 

An Introduction to Yakshagana -Part II

An Introduction to Yakshagana -Part II

Welcome back…it’s time for the Yakshagana stories. If you haven’t read up on the first part you could do it here or if you want me tell you a little something about it, the video is here.

Yakshagana literally means the song of the demi gods. It is a beautiful representation of our rich and diverse culture, language and history. The episodes of the play are called prasangas. These are composed based on parts from the poetic epics, puranas and literature in Sanskrit. Prasangas are scripted keeping in mind the musical components, dialogues and dance. Parthi Subba from Kumble (though there are alternate opinions on his place of birth), is considered to be the father of Yakshagana. He is believed to be the first one to compose Yakshagana Prasangas. Earlier, Yakshagana was purely a male domain, but now women and children are also carving a niche for themselves. Right from composing Yakshagana Prasangas or episodes to enacting pivotal roles on stage, women are now a part of Yakshagana.

Yakshagana

At Yakshotsav SDM Law college Managalore

 

Dr Manjunath Shetty narrated many short stories based on love, passion, fate, destiny all of them so entwined in our own lives…I can’t make up my mind on which ones to leave and include.

Story on Decisions and Attitude-

There was one on Jaya Vijaya, which you might be familiar with. It was the age of gods, saints and curses. In the distant land of Vainkuntha (Lord Vishnu’s abode), the sentries at the door Jaya Vijaya encountered 4 young saints, no more than 5 years old. They were the Manasputras (Sons born from Brahma’s thought) who had the boon to remain child-like but were great wise saints. Feeling a sense of importance, the sentries refused entry to the saints. Inspite of repeated entreaties, they were refused. Enraged, they curse the sentries to a lifetime on earth as mere mortals. Desperate, Jaya Vijaya request Lord Vishnu to lift the curse and restore them to their position. The Lord gives them two options. They can either finish 7 lifetimes as devotees of Vishnu or opt for 3 lifetimes as his enemies. Thereafter they would return to Vainkuntha forever. Without a second’s thought, they feel that 3 lifetimes are better than 7 and choose to be Vishnu’s enemies on earth.
In their first lifetime they are born as Hiranyaksh and Hiranyakashyap in the Satya Yuga. Vishnu takes the form of a boar (Varahaavtar) and Narasimha (fusion of lion and man) and kills them. In their second Lifetime, they are born as Ravana and Kumbhakarna, killed by Rama an avtar (form) of Vishnu. In their third lifetime, the Thretha Yuga they take the form of Jarasanda and Dantavakra, killed by Krishna, another form of Vishnu.
It is only after these three lifetimes that they attain moksha (eternal peace) and come back to Vainkuntha. So now we get see them in all the temples of Vishnu as sentries.

Yakshagana

Yakshotsav at SDM Law College Mangalore

 

Story on Fate, Destiny-

Yakshagana has many prasangas from the Mahabharatha, an epic narrative of the Kuruksetra war between the brothers- Kauravas and the Pandavas. During the war, Sanjaya is blessed with ‘doora drishti’ which is nothing but seeing in real time or something like ‘live streaming’ (quite advanced na?). But on the last day he is unable to see what is happening on the battlefield and Dhratharashtra, the king of Hasthinapura asks him to go to the battlefield and find out the whereabouts of his son Duryodhana. This is when all of Duryodhana’s relatives, brothers and friends have been killed and he is the only one left of his vast army. Sanjaya finds Duryodhana hiding away from the eyes of the enemy, the Pandavas (they are the good guys) and there is a discussion on how fate has brought Duryodhana down to his knees. Notice the change in tenor, when Dr. Manjunath Shetty sings for Sanjaya and Duryodhana.

Yakshagana

Yakshagana

 

Song on Wooing a Woman and an open Proposal-

Then there’s one on romance and how a man woos a woman. Immediately on seeing her beauty he proposes and also talks of being one with her soul. An open proposal is issued.

Story on love and war, with a ‘Happily Ever After’-

There’s another story of a young lady Banashankari who goes to the temple. There she comes upon a young man and they both fall in love. But even before they can speak to each other their friends call them. Her father Gunasena writes to the young man that his daughter would like to marry him. But unaware that it was the same girl he had seen in the temple, he offers his younger brother as the groom. Gunasena refuses and they declare war on Gunasena. In the war Gunasena is defeated and has to give away his daughter in marriage to the brother. At the last minute the young man sees the bride and realises that it was the same girl he had seen in the temple, to whom he had lost his heart. And off course everything ends happily, with the young couple getting married.

Banashankari love story in Yakshagana

Dr. Manjunath Shetty as Gunasena -An Old memeory that he shared with us

 

Story on play, modesty and nature-

There’s one more on Sahasrarjuna. He is strong, with a thousand arms and a playboy who loves the company of ladies. Here is a small snapshot of him calling out to the ladies for some water sports. A beautiful song describing the beauty of nature is also included. I just loved this song!

 

Snapshot on Lakshmana’s anger and Sugriva (this one’s from The Ramayana)-

Having helped Sugriva win the war against his brother Vali, Rama is promised aid to free his wife Sita from the clutches of Ravana (This is famously referred to as Sugrivajne). But months pass by; Sugriva does not come with the promised army of monkeys. Rama asks Lakshmana to go and find out what is taking so long. Rama is patient, but Lakshmana is raging at the delay. Here Lakshmana is pacified when he understands that it is not easy to bring together an army of monkeys, monkeys who jump from one tree to another, never still for even a moment. With this instance, Dr.Manjunath Shetty says quite like us and our minds. True, isn’t it?

Yakshagana

Yakshotsav at SDM law college, Mangalore

Closure with a prayer-

Yakshagana begins and ends with a prayer.

Yakshagana

Yakshagana

And these are just some snippets on the whole story. Yakshagana is the art which brings to life, characters of the bygone era. It is not of the past but of the present, where it keeps evolving. Don’t let go of it! Savour it and the experience will only make you richer.

Lots of Twinkles to you.
Have a great week.
Anupama

PS- All pictures are from Yakshotsav SDM Law College Mangalore. I wish to place on record my gratitude to Dr. Manjunath Shetty for having shared his knowledge and talent with all of us at Strings of Heritage and our readers.

An Introduction to Yakshagana

An Introduction to Yakshagana

When I started with the idea of stringsofheritage, I was assailed by doubts. And then some days I was very optimistic. With a lot of festivals coming up( This was during Ganesh Chaturthi) and no blog posts on the horizon, I again wondered what I was doing!!! And as we chit chat about sarees and life, I casually ask my co-sister who is a doctor, “Do you know any ‘yakshagana’ artists I can speak to, during these festival days? I want to do ‘An introduction to Yakshagana’ post.” Up she jumps and says, “Off course!! My colleague Dr. Manjunath Shetty is just the person.” Off we go to the government hospital. It’s an emergency appendix operation for which he has come, inspite of it being his off duty day. He is a surgeon, an expert in surgeries and also the administrator at Bhatkal Government hospital. When I meet him, I sheepishly admit that I don’t know the ABC of Yakshagana. I was worried quite unnecessarily. He was happy to talk to me about his hobby, that which gives him a lot of happiness and satisfaction. 

An introduction to yakshagana

Dr.Manjunath Shetty as Karna in a Yakshagana performance

I ask him about how it all began for him and he recalls his school days in Kundapur, when he used to bunk the second half at school and go to learn ‘yakshagana’. Unfortunately for him, the headmaster was a relative who asked his father about his absence. His father was a strict disciplinarian and the punishment ranged from ‘200 Uthak bethak’ to locking away his clothes so he couldn’t go out. Though he stopped going to the ‘yakshagana’ classes, his love for it remained and I for one am happy that he continued. Otherwise I would have missed learning about this great art from such an expressive person and my post ‘An introduction to Yakshagana’ would never have been the same without Dr. Manjunath Shetty. I could not resist putting up some of the impromptu videos taken by me. You have to excuse the quality because I was enjoying the performance to the extent that I could not hold the camera steady. Such a musical treat… He was also getting calls from his daughter whom he had to pick up. But I had to have this in the blog. Notice the change in tenor when there is a character change.

Yakshagana performance

Yakshagana performance-Pic Credit: Hemanth Karmaran

 

But first things first! Let me give you an introduction to Yakshagana, all in lay man’s language. This is just an introduction to yakshagana with stories for you, but if you want to read more about it you can click here. Yakshagana is a complete art form like no other. It is a fusion of all the Navarasas- the hejje, gejje, tala, laya, vesha, bhoosha, abhinaya, bhagavatha, matugarike. It creates a parallel mythological universe with its compelling theatrical experience. It is a fusion of dance, expressions, dialogue, discussion, debate, music, resplendent costumes and make up. All forms of yakshagana(yes there is more than one) have the ‘himmela’ (The group at the rear end of the stage) and the ‘mummela’ ( The artists closer to the audience on stage). The himmela consists of the lead singer or Bhagavatha and the musicians. The Bhagavatha is like the director of the production and controls the actors on stage. The musical instruments include the tala, Tabla, Chande (a loud drum), chakratala and the harmonium. The mummela consists of the dance and dialogue troupe. Dr.Manjunath tells me that the chande even to this day requires no mike. The sound is so loud that 5 to 6 villages nearby can easily hear the sound. The chande is an indication that there is a yakshagana performance that night. Yakshagana typically starts at night and goes on till the wee hours of the morning. I think this was mainly because in the olden days, there was no other form of entertainment and people who would perform would also perhaps be working during the day. Though now a days there are a lot of abridged versions of yakshagana, some troupes still maintain the all night show. It is performed on a raised platform called the ‘Rangasthala’ lit by oil lamps in the four corners.

Yakshagana Performance- Thenku Thittu

Yakshagana Performance- Thenku Thittu; Pic Credit: Hemanth Karmaran

 

The forms of yakshagana in Karnataka based on the region that they come from, are called Thenku thittu( some parts of Udupi district, Dakshina Kannada district and Kasargod as well). It is characterized by the influence of carnatic music and the dance where there are a lot of high spins in the air and continuous spinning as well. The Badagu Thittu is from Kundapur to Byndoor and Uttara Kannada district. Here importance is given to dialogues and facial expressions. The headgear and costumes of this form is also very elaborate and takes upto three hours to be tied. The BadaBadaguthittu is the extreme northern parts of Uttara Kannada and not very different from Badaguthittu. Irrespective of the region it comes from, the subject is universal, good over evil taking their inspiration from the poetic epics such as Mahabharatha and Ramayana, and the Puranas. The main motto was to explain to the then illiterate public, the story in  an entertaining manner with a moral at the end. But whatever the story, it all begins and ends with a prayer. The artists first perform a ‘chowki pooja’ to the deity and the make-up chest, after which the performance begins, with a prayer and then there is the trial run for all the musicians with the Sthreeveshas. Check out my video…I think I did a good job this time. What do you think of the video? Let me know in comments….

 

Then the story begins….in the next blog post I will give you a couple of stories by Dr. Manjunath Shetty. Whoever set the limit to the number of words in a blog post? I have so much to tell you! This was just an introduction to Yakshagana. I will get you the stories in a day or so. Stay tuned.

Yakshagana- A theatrical art form of Tulunadu

Yakshagana- A theatrical art form of Tulunadu; Pic Credit – Hemanth Karmaran

 

Lots of Twinkles to all of you.

Have a great day.

Anupama.

Prabhakar Kini- Collector of Ganapathi sculptures and paintings

Prabhakar Kini- Collector of Ganapathi sculptures and paintings

Mr. Prabhakar Kini is an artist, an entrepreneur and a collector. Even when he doodled with MS Paint, he would come up with Ganapathis. He believes, “Whatever you do, do it well.” This philosophy is clearly visible in this varied collection of Lord Ganapathi sculptures and paintings. He is a collector of not just Ganapathis but also exclusive newspapers and magazines, swarovski crystal figurines and antiques (another post maybe??) But the kind of person that he is (a perfectionist), he realised early on, that he should have more focus and narrow down on his topic for collection. On so deciding, he felt that Ganapathi was an ideal for a collector. Ganapathi known as the ‘Vighnaharta’ is the remover of all obstacles and most of the artists begin with a Ganapathi painting. And as we take a look around the museum, we see that Ganapathi also lends himself easily to an artist’s imagination. With all the stories around Ganapathi, right from his birth to breaking Kubera’s ego, mythology is full of the playful tricks played by Ganapathi. Ganapathi is also a ‘foodie’ (as this generation would refer to Him perhaps) and these times are all about good food and good times.

Ganapathi sculptures and paintings

Ganapathi with the cow, along the lines of Krishna

 

Ganapathi sculptures and paintings

Another beautiful painting

 

Having decided on collecting Ganapathi sculptures and paintings, Mr. Kini would always ensure that he added to his collection every month. Many of the pieces come from his regular contacts among antique dealers, some artists and ChitraSanthe organised by Chitrakala Parishat. Initially when he started out, he displayed them at home. When the collection outgrew the space, he shifted to a bigger apartment. But even that was not sufficient for the growing collection. That was when he decided to house his collection separately and is now available at Jayanagar, Bangalore at the ‘Ganesha Vaividhyam’ gallery. An inspiring person, Mr. Prabhakar Kini has an enthusiasm for life that is infectious. I always come away inspired. His collection reflects one man’s passion, dreams and achievements

Ganapathi sculptures and paintings

A wooden carving from TamilNadu portraying Ganapathi in the Dashavatara

 

Ganapathi sculptures and paintings

Ganapathi in coconut and bamboo roots

Ganapathi was his mom, Parvathi’s favourite as he was her creation. Many paintings here reflect this pure love. He was also very learned, a scholar and a musician . The epic of Mahabharatha was written by Ganapathi as Vyasa dictated it and many of the sculptures here are based on this story. Ganapathi with different musical instruments and in different dance forms can also be seen here. There are no limitations on the materials used either. Right from brass, bronze, copper, wood, coconut, coffee root, bamboo root, granite, jaisalmer stone, marble, shells, conches, precious stones such as coral, jade, metals such as silver and gold, to the humble spare parts from a garage- you will find Ganapathi sculptures and paintings in all these materials and more. Though I did not mean to make such a lengthy video, I had to do justice to the collection and it just went on.

 

As for the paintings, there are some by famous artists and many by upcoming artists, some are not even signed but they all come together to make a beautiful whole. Mr. Kini has a wonderful collection of Ganapathi paintings in the different folk styles from around India. These include the Madhubani style, Pattachitras, palm leaf engravings, kaavi kale, paintings in the miniature style, with meenakari work, Tanjore style and the Mysore art style. He also has a Ganapathi painting in the thangka style with Ganapathi at the centre, flanked by Buddhas on all sides.

Ganapathi sculptures and paintings

Mr. Prabhakar Kini with his collection of Ganapathi sculptures and paintings

 

Ganapathi sculptures and paintings

I loved this! The mice taking Ganapathi with a shade. This piece is in fibre.

Then off course there are some which were custom made. There is one Ganapathi sculpture that he saw in a picture and commissioned a rose wood carving from Kumta based on the picture, a pot that he asked the artist to paint Ganapathis on, a conch that he found on a beach in the form of Ganapathi. The tiniest off course is the one carved on a rice grain and needs a magnifying glass to view it. And then there was one in brass that I tried to move for a better angle, but it wouldn’t budge.

Ganapathi sculptures and paintings

Ganapathi riding the mouse

 

Ganapathi sculptures and paintings

Ganapathi in metal

Not limited to India, there are Ganapathi sculptures and paintings from Nepal, Thailand and Indonesia. There is a postage stamp from Nepal and a currency note from Indonesia. He also has a range of books on Ganesha. There are not just the traditional but also the quirky. A Humpty Dumpty Ganapathi, a Laptop Ganapathi, a Mobile Ganapathi, Ganapathi as Santa Claus, as an Englishman, a lawyer, a landlord, a doctor…ufff..The list is endless.

Ganapathi sculptures and paintings

The quirky – Ganapathi as Santa Clause, Humpty Dumpty, Kangaroo, with a laptop and a mobile

 

Ganapathi as Krishna, Ganapathi in the Dashavatara (which is originally Vishnu’s ten forms), as a Yakshagana( a folk art from Tulunadu) character….there are just so many. You have to check out the video to see all of them and maybe visit the gallery with a prior appointment to see it yourself. Believe me, you need at least 3 hours to experience the beauty and soak in all the variety here. I am totally happy that Kinimam is related to me and I have visited the gallery on many occasions. And my dear readers, you are truly lucky to have had a glimpse of this one person’s love for Ganapathi sculptures and paintings on stringsofheritage. And I have to mention that Kinimam and his daughter Vidya Shanbhag (who is also my dear friend) obliged me every time I was trying out my non-existent photography and videography skills. Thank you so much for having shared your love for Ganapathi with me and my readers. May Lord Ganesha bless us all.

Ganapathi sculptures and paintings

Ganapathi in Fibre- As an Englishman, Buddha, a Musician

 

Lots of twinkles to all of you.

Have a great weekend.

Anupama.

PS- Those in Bangalore, and interested to visit the gallery may write to Stringsofheritage.

Creation Of The Ganapathi Idols- The Raos

Creation Of The Ganapathi Idols- The Raos

I guess I am just lucky that I can write about some of my childhood memories and have the world read about it. After all, not everyone gets to play hide and seek between hundreds of Ganapathi idols getting ready for the big festival and celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi. The Rao’s home is next to my aunt’s place and today when I met them, RamAnna (Ramachandra Rao) recalls that my brother and I would jump across the compound wall to play at their house. The Raos have been making clay Ganapathi idols for 88 years now. And it’s not a one man show. All the members of the family get involved in making these idols. Not only Mohan Rao’s sons but also the daughter’s husbands and kids, their sons-in law, the grandchildren, everyone is involved. Each one is assigned a different role and together, they make not one but many beauties.

Ganapathi Idols in clay

Ganapathi Idols in clay at Mangalore- The Raos family legacy

 

It all started with their father Mohan Rao (1895- 1989), who learnt the art of making Ganapathi idols in Mumbai. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm all over India and also abroad, where Indians rejoice and celebrate it with a feeling of oneness. Ganapathi bappa, as the elephant headed God is called fondly blesses everyone.  Seeing their father work on Ganapathi Idols, the sons were inspired to learn and say that it was a way of life for them. Their father was 94 when he passed away during the festival preparations of Ganesh Chaturthi. Even the day he died, he was working on Ganapathi idols. Not artists in the technical sense, there is an auditor, entrepreneurs, makeup artists, an architect, a doctor and then there are the ladies of the house and the kids who join in after their day’s work. If we celebrate the festival for a day or ten days at the most, they start preparing for the festival two months in advance. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the one who popularized the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi as part of the integration of the nation in the Pre- Independence era. Even to this day the Samoohik (common or community based) Ganapathis bring the community together. In fact this time in Mangalore, I was able to attend the early morning celebrations with oil lamps arranged in the form of the Indian map before Ganapathi Bappa. The Bhajan Group singing the Lord’s praises and many others enjoying the melodies. This started early in the morning at 4.30 and concluded with breakfast for all at 7 am. In families, it is usually the ancestral homes where the Ganapathi idols are brought and pooja is performed as per rituals. All the members of the family meet during this day.

 

Ganapathi Idols in clay at Mangalore- Total of 202 Ganapathi Idols

Ganapathi Idols in clay at Mangalore- The smallest to the largest at 8.5 feet

A platform in wood is dedicated to Ganapathi and this is given to the Raos two months in advance for the idol preparation. The star under which we are born rules us and so too the Gods. Lord Ganapathi was born under Chitra nakshatra (star) and that day, one of the peethas (platform) with a mound of clay is kept before the gods and the family seeks God’s blessings for the work that is to begin. The Raos believe that God himself inspires them and does the work through them. With this prayer, the work begins. There are no moulds and all of it is handmade. Preparing the base on the given peetha (platform), a stick measuring about half feet, is fixed vertically with hay tied around it. This gives the idol strength and support. After raising the body, the limbs are fixed after which the head is made and shaped.  After this dries up, the idols are painted and eyes are painted just two days prior to the festival. So the first time I visited, I captured some images and ensured that I reached two days before the festival to record the final images. The eyes after all are the most expressive and only then can we consider the creation to be complete.

Painting in progress. Ganapathi idols in clay

In the process of getting done. Ganapathi idols in clay at Mangalore

 

The idols range from the biggest idol at 8.5 feet (Sangha Niketan Ganapathi) to the smallest which is less than a feet in height. Though some idols are in different postures, the Raos are able to remember, which platform belongs to whose family and the posture of that family’s Ganapathi idol. All this becomes important as Ganapathi pooja is considered to be auspicious and once begun, should always be continued in the family. And such minute details hold a lot of importance. In spite of juggling their day jobs with this artistic pursuit and religious service with the pressure to finish in time, the best part is their happy disposition. They are always cheerful, welcoming and hospitable. And I usually see them during this time of the year. My aunt also says the same, “The best part is how well they work together, without any misunderstandings or tempers flying off the handle.” 

Ganapathi Idols in clay at mangalore. Mahesh Rao and wife Seema work in harmony

Mahesh Rao and wife Suma work in harmony

It is not for a fee that they do this. RamAnna (Ramachandra Rao) says, “We do this work with love and with a sense of service. It is not for money, though we are given a kanike (an offering) with a fruit as a mark of respect. And then people remember us during this festival. Even you would have just greeted us otherwise. But because we are doing this, you have come to talk in leisure today (he happily pulls my leg!) “. It was my lucky day as I got to see a couple take the Ganapathi idol (Ganapathi Bappa) home. The brothers reminisce that the lady who is now a doctor, used to come as a young child with her father. This is just so beautiful…where these bonds are formed with complete strangers and who can take you back to your childhood.  My first attempt at a video…

 

The three brothers. Ganapathi idols in clay at mangalore

The three brothers. Busy at work. Carrying on the family legacy

 

Ganapathi idols in clay at mangalore

The Raos carrying on the legacy of Mohan Rao

 

The colours used are Asian paints lead free paints (And no, this is not a sponsored post) which are eco friendly. Of the total 202 Ganapathi idols, there is just one  Ganapathi idol here, without any colours. This is for Mangalore Fisheries College, and it has a unique appeal among all its other colourful contemporaries. Though this year there were a lot of videos with Sasya Ganapathi, where the idol could be immersed in a pot and used for plants, their time is yet to come. Until then let us enjoy these colours around us and rejoice in the festival spirit. 

Ganapathi idol in clay- eco friendly

Mangalore fisheries college opts for eco friendly Ganapathi idol in clay

 

Ganapathi Bappa Moraya.

Happy Festival to you.

Anupama.

 

PS- I could not get all the family members together for a pic, so got this one where all the members involved are captured in a single frame.

Late Mohan Rao’s family- Prabhakar Rao, Sudhakar Rao and Ramachandra Rao are the sons. Daughters -in -law, Sons- in –law, grandchildren, grand- daughters –in –law, great grand children are all involved.

This is in Mannagudda Mangalore.