Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Horn Craft of Orissa - Part II

pen holder in horn craft

The process of crafting horn

Horn crafts demands enormous patient, utmost concentration and long working hours. First the solid part of the horn is soaked in water to make it soft and then the desired design is carved out of it. If shaping is necessary, then the carved piece is heated to a specific temperature and shaped. Then, different files are used to smooth the surface of the sculpture. Necessary bores are then made to fix appendages. Eyes and other highlights used to be made of stag antlers, but now a days due to its unavailability plastic is used. After drilling bores, light incisions and grooves are made in the required places on the body of the horn work. Then it is polished, generally by the women of the village. They polish the articles first with sand paper and then with wet Kharsana leaves. The Kharsana leaves have a rough surface on one side. The polishing is continued till the horn work is smooth and shiny. Then it is thoroughly cleaned with water and dried in open air. After drying it is polished further with cow dung ash or charcoal ash. Then the various parts are assembled by applying either limestone paste or white varnish highlights the desired areas. Finally coconut oil is smeared all over which gives the horn work the beautiful luster it possesses.

The present

Like any other crafts in Orissa this craft is also fighting for its survival. This craft which seems to have reached its fag end too soon is going to die an untimely death unless some concrete and hard actions are taken. Dejection is written over the faces of the artisans who are now valiantly struggling to maintain their rich cultural heritage. They suffer a major setback from the non-availability of enough horns. They have to compete with buyers from outside the state which results in the spiraling of its price and the lowering of their profit. Horns also are used in the rich shipping industry, leading to further scarcity. And the worst part is that, the horn workers have to compete with various machine made products like plastic ware. And the worst enemy are the buyers like us who have been showing indifference to traditional craftsmanship. The horn craft artisans are hence going into other professions. Those who are still sticking to this profession are not at all interested in passing it on to their children. The way the situation is right now this beautiful craft will surely die a painful death in another ten years or so. It will have to a be a combined effort of the government and the buyer to get this craft form back where it belonged.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Diwali Gift Ideas


Its Deepavali time. Its that time of the year when families and friends get together and have a blast. Its also the time to gift your loved ones. Here are some gift suggestions from us, that will surely be different and flavorful.

Appliqué lampshades of Pipili make a great gift for Diwali. Diwali or Deepavali is festival of lights. People light up earthen lamps or Diyas to celebrate this festival. The appliqué lampshades multiply the charm of this festival by creating an ethnic ambiance and adding soft colorful light to the festivities. Combine it with an appliqué wall hanging or a papier mache mask of Ram, Ganesh, Hanuman, Sita, Laxman or Kali and it will be the perfect gift for Diwali.

Combine a metal crafted sculpture with a palm leaf engraved painting and it will be an unique and rare gift that you shall be giving someone this festive season.

One of the best gifts will be a Ganesh or Buddha stone sculpture from our store. You can choose from red stone or marble sculptures. These are very intricately and ornately carved and are available at better price than any other store on the internet. You can also combine this with an appliqué lampshade to make it the perfect gift.

Wood carved Jagannath or Trinity idols are great too as a festival gift. These hand carved and painted idols of Puri are made from wood blocks and are completely hand crafted. These will make an ideal gift for any festival and especilly for Deepavali.

No matter what the festival is Pattachitra painting or a palm leaf engraved painting is a good gift any day. Let it be Diwali, Durga puja, Holi, Christmas or new year. Because of its beautiful colours, design and intricacy it makes a great gift for any festival. Go ahead gift your loved ones with a Pattachitra or palm leaf painting this season.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Horn Craft of Orissa - Part I


Horn craft is practiced by the Oriya tribal people, mainly the Marijas, Santhals and Orans. The horns, taken from the corpses of mainly cows and buffalos are transformed into beautiful artworks that become home decors and a large variety of functional items. Pen stands, paper weights, lamp shades, table lamps, walking sticks and decorative figures of animals and birds are some of the most common products. But the razors, spectacle-frames, cigarette cases that were in vogue till early eighties have slowly disappeared from this craft and also public memory. And in the land of Jagannath how can be a craft be a complete without representing the lord with it!! In keeping with changing times, inspiration for decorative pieces is being drawn from modern art as well. Paralakhemundi and Cuttack are the Mecca of this beautiful craft and Paralakhemundi mainly is synonymous with horn craft around the world.

The history of horn work

The history of how this craft was born is not known precisely. But by most the present form of horn craft is attributed to Rao Sahib K.V.Appa Rao of Paralakhemundi. He was patronized by the kind of Paralakhemundi for his fireworks. Legend has it that during a firework display Appa Rao accidently recognized the plastic properties of horn which was used as a container for his fireworks. Till then horn was used to make functional items like combs by the tribal people. Appa Rao studied the potential that horn had as a medium for art form and then under the patronage of the king set up his workshop with the very best carpenters. And this is how the horn craft of Orissa was born.