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Enticing fare

Handicrafts and handlooms beckon at the Orissa Crafts Bazaar


IF YOU are a compulsive window shopper, this is one place you must not visit. It's hard to resist temptation at the Orissa Crafts Bazar 2004 at Jayam's Hall. An array of baubles and handlooms, each one seemingly designed to loosen your purse strings, wait patiently, knowing you'll succumb to their charms sooner than later.

Be it the utterly traditional palm-leaf patachitra paintings, the lively dhokra cast figurines or the enamel-painted copper plates and bowls, each one speaks volumes about the effort that has gone into its making.

Usually, walking into this venue would mean a sense of déjà vu - the same stalls, the same products, and boringly enough, in their same corners. This time around, the stalls have been arranged differently. They have done away with the huge pile of clothes at the entrance, which used to effectively blind out the rest of the stalls. Instead, the fabric - ikat - has been tastefully arranged. The famed patachitra paintings are available in a variety of sizes and in two forms - mounted and framed. Modern appliqué, a take on the older form, is different in that the entire painting features a single patch-worked subject.

Glass work-laced lampshades and bags done in the Orissa style are also on offer. Another attraction is the silver filigree work from Cuttack. It's hard to believe that such fine work is possible using metal. The most impressive are the pendants and kumkum boxes that take a minimum of six days to make. Even the veins in the leaves and the pistil stand out.

Tribal paintings from Orissa using blades of grass and cut paper are available too. So are wooden alphabet and numerals pasted on to a reed mat and embellished with tribal motifs. An apt teaching tool for children.

Red marble and stone sculptures from Bhubaneswar are eye-stealers too, never mind their cost.

As always, stalls from other States also find place in the exhibition. "That's because we will not be

able to offer variety if we stick only to one State," a stall owner explains.

Terracotta jewellery and wall hangings and sandalwood carvings from Karnataka with rich detailing will interest those fond of offbeat baubles. So will the walnut wood lampshade from Kashmir. Hand-carved, it is shaped like a bud that unfolds.

In the Jaipur stalls, choose from strands of semi-precious and precious stones and silver ear-rings and danglers. The best trinkets are available in the stalls put up outside the hall. A cooperative society from Loni in Ghaziabad has brought in a medley of strands, danglers, chokers, wristbands, necklaces... Phew! The list is endless. Made of naturally-available materials and chemical formulations, the colours are peppy and the look great. From the Kolkata stall, choose from realistic miniature clay vegetables, fruit, and even biscuits.

The handloom section is not very expansive, if you don't take the Jaipur bedsheet stall into account. Choose from Sambhalpuri cottons and silks, ikats, pochampallis and Rajasthani prints. Kashmir finds representation too, with elegant phirans in pastels and hand-embroidered carpets in silk and wool.

The show, organised by the Kalinga Handicrafts Industrial Co-operative Society, Bhubaneswar, is on till December 13 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. A discount of 10 per cent is offered on handicrafts and 20 per cent on handlooms.

SUBHA J RAO

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