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Thewa novelty, the traditional way


ONE COULD have mistaken the silence at Rabindra Bhawan to be the defining feature of a yoga centre had the language of art and symbolism not prevailed. Even a whirlwind tour wouldn't convinced you otherwise for the art and craft on display here lacked the sparkle of a diamond or the grandeur of architecture or mural painting. However, it is a closer examination that makes the tour worthwhile. No nuances, no secret meanings, just plain and simple art. This is what was on display at the famous exhibition hall, a stone's throw away from the FICICI auditorium.

It grows upon you all the more when you come to realise that these intricate art forms are the works of several national award winners. The sheer quantity of the work however, militates against its quality. The eye then searches for something extraordinary or new. You might end up appreciating the `kalamkaari' works or the `thewa' art. The latter in particular is something which not many people are familiar with and is quite predictably a new art for some. However, the man standing at the counter informs otherwise. According to him, this technique of making portraits with gold on Belgian glass dates back to the Moghul period. "It's been there for more than four hundred years and my family is the sole master of the art," adds Girish Soni, the thewa artist from Pratapgarh in Chittaur district.

"The designs resemble the art from the Moghul times," says history research scholar Ajeet Kumar after seeing the national award winning depiction of a hunting scene by the artist. However, the credibility of the artist is undermined somewhat when a lady by the name of Sarla Thukral, the first lady pilot of India, tells that she was looking for thewa artists ever since she had met one in Ajmer. Interestingly, Soni's family is not based in Ajmer. Still, credit must be given to the artist whose ancestors are credited with inventing the art of thewa, which literally means beating the boundary of silver. "The design is first made on a thin layer of 23 karat gold which is then impressed upon the glass and treated with chemicals. Finally a silver frame is fitted on to the piece. In this way we can make several jewellery and gift items," informs the artist.

One might not be able to find anything depicting the calmness of an ocean, the vicissitudes of the Indian streets or the beauty of nature in his art forms but one can be assured of not being subjected to the formulaic art that all such intricate art pieces revolve around. Thewa, quite predictably, doesn't come cheap. So the next time you have lots of money to spend and want something deceptively novel then thewa is worth a thought.

S.M.YASIR

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