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A stitch in time



President APJ Abdul Kalam inaugurating the exhibition The Indian Crafts Journey in New Delhi. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty.

IT'S THE result of 10 years' toil. It's a road map to the crafts of 24 States of India. It's an idea borrowed from Thailand and utilised here. It's a mansion house of information and blended with visual pleasure, with even an element of subtle humour. It's the ongoing Indian Craft Journey - A Multimedia Exhibition of the Crafts Map of India at Dilli Haat. And when you have Jaya Jaitley for company, you will certainly not overlook details that you may otherwise skip.

This multimedia exhibition is all about maps designed on huge calendars with their history, mythology, tales, current hubs of the handicraft against the pictorial background representing one or the other aspect of the State. While token representation of the handicraft of that State finds a suitable place on a box which is later used to keep all these items back. So it is the whole State along with its accessories in a box, all laid out alphabetically!

They are done in extremely interesting manner. For instance, the sheet with Punjab map also narrates through the painting of Arpana Caur, a story of Guru Nanak visiting a carpenter in Punjab. And famous Punjabi jooti, Kirpan with which suji, which is cooked as prasad is stirred, phulkari work and other such tokens are presented to showcase the State. Be it Tamil Nadu's palm leaf baskets in colour for the first-time, orhni that to-be-bride paints for herself in Uttaranchal, patchitra by West Bengal artist who has painted tsunami havoc story on it, Chattisgarhi's folk painting which shows Krishna wearing a wrist watch, Goa's architectural delight, Kerala's temple mural art which is being revived through this exhibition and its map on a sketch of a palm tree and even soft toys which do not bear faces of pandas or teddy bears but Gondi art from Madhya Pradesh's tribe, are on display. You might soon have a wall clock made of palm leaf that Orissa has to offer and a lot more.

Light and sound

If you happen to visit it in the evening, you may have the added advantage of seeing special lights effects; of flowing river, of patches of glimmer from the jute roof and bamboo podium and so on. And the backdrop is not without music. This music is an amalgam of the sounds of craftsmen weaving handloom, mor chung, brass sheets beaten, clatter of a child's clay cart and so on, beautifully composed by Arjun Sen.

"These maps should be sold as a work of art. Why is there so much of a gap between paintings of Husain and paintings by our own knowledgeable craftspersons?" questions Jaitley.

The exhibition is on till this coming Monday.

RANA SIDDIQUI

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