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The snake and the puppet...

Handcrafted items from a master crafts person from Andhra Pradesh and puppet show for a belly laugh. Dilli Haat witnessed a good blend of both. S.M. YASIR reports... .

EVER HEARD about the snake that has the skin of a goat? Sounds uncommon? Uncommon things always have a certain charm associated with them. That's what makes this snake, actually a puppet made of goat leather, so special. Such puppets, however, are just one of the things in which you can see the skill and expertise of D. Ramana, the master craftsman from Andhra Pradesh, who displayed his skills at Dilli Haat the other day. One doesn't fail to notice his creativity in the numerous other articles such as lampshades, wall hangings and door panels.

These hand-stitched articles in various varieties are available in a range of colours, sizes and designs. Just in case you want something different from the usual mythological or floral design, you can have the art samples of your choice customised. Impressive, but is it worth buying? Well, one can hope to get a lampshade with the design of his choice for as low as Rs.175. To add to that -- all these are made up of waterproof colours that makes them everlasting.

The art however, is not easy. After all one does not get a National Award for doing easy things. Chalpati Rao, father of Ramana got one for his `karnaansalya', a portrayal of a rath from the Mahabharata. What comes so easily to him now actually takes a whole day of labour and skill. First raw leather is treated with chemicals and cleaned with hot water and then dried in the sun. Needles are used to sketch out immaculate designs and then vegetable colours are used to do the final stitching of the design and the shape.

It is this toil that took the man and his art to places across the globe -- France, America, England, Germany or any of the metropolitan cities of India. It is the recognition of this art that has prompted the Government to finance the training of 15 people every year in this rare craft.

All these items were brought to Dilli Haat as part of the National Handicrafts Expo that concluded recently. To add to the attraction was a puppet show. Coloured images of these dancing puppets were projected on a screen with traditional music as the backdrop to depict scenes from the Mahabharata.

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