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Swiss art... melts here



The native pottery from Switzerland at The Crafts Museum, New Delhi.

SWITZERLAND, THE playground of Europe, cradled amidst towering Alps mountains, has always gained acclaim in all factions, from landscape, to winter sports, to watches and chocolates. Swiss art, often forgotten in the company of its more famous counterparts gains voice, at The Crafts Museum, New Delhi, which reveals this face of Switzerland, in both its traditional and contemporary form, from all the 26 cantons of the land.

Switzerland, which has a rich culture to complement its elegant art types, is unravelled in all its beauty and opulence, with this roaming exhibition, that has already told its tale in the cities of Jordan and Kazakhistan. With a four-foot Nila Vilakku lighting the threshold to the Swiss craft exhibition, the native pottery, woodwork, filigreed metals and cross-stitched cloth, all blend harmoniously with the Indian straw mats and mud designs on the walls of the museum.

The renowned Appenzell cowbells, an Indian favourite ever since its thematic role in "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge", narrate the story of its cultural prominence, here. It is brandished by the `Queen of Cows', the victor from cow fights carried out as part of the festival, when she is paraded round town, with a crown of flowers around the head. Striking sharp contrast with these pretty bells from the mountains of Montagne, are the hideous masks from Lotschental (Valais), that have their own story to say. Traditionally, the locals wearing these masks used to smear ash on the faces of passers-by, during the 10 days preceding Ash Wednesday.

On display alongside, are other forms of art, synonymous with the lifestyle of Switzerland. The popular Swiss dolls by Sasha Morgenthaler, with their various facial expressions, depict the Swiss land, in their clothes and jewellery. The simple household items in the exhibition, such as the copper kitchen utensils and the hand-carved wooden moulds used for making the traditional aniseed biscuits, complement the sentiment. "I feel so much at home," exclaims Marie Anne Derron, from the Swiss Embassy.

In the placid wooden cows, soup tureens in slipware, nativity figures in ceramic and silhouette paper cut-out art forms, the Swiss land narrates its own story.

SHRUTI RAJAN

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