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Art and Craft of Haryana

Pottery

Haryana mainly has a rural economy and Pottery is one of the main occupation. The potter's wheel, dating back to pre-Aryan times, is the most common feature of any village in India. Although numerous kinds of wheels are used throughout India, in Haryana the kick-operated type is common. With this contraption you don't use your hands to turn the wheel as in normal cases, on the other hand, you use your foot. The actual wheel may be either of cement or stone. Pottery is essentially a village craft, and Haryana is essentially a rural state. While the potter works on the wheel, he has a helper (usually his son or a relative) mixing clay, while a woman (his wife or a sister) makes intricate designs into the finished vessel or toy. From utensils to toys to decorative pieces, clay forms the most essential ingredient on which the potter literally survives. Seasonal festivals call for the potter to get cracking – he has to make hundreds of toys like miniature cows, horses, people, houses and sepoys which are then sold in brightly decorated stalls along dusty lanes.

Embroidery, Weaving and Handlooms

Haryana is quite famous for its woven work, be it shawls, durries, robes or lungis. The Haryana shawl is known as "Phulkari". It is an offshoot of the shawl from Kashmir. It is a spectacular piece of clothing, full of magnificent colors and intricate embroidery. Worn with with a tight-fitting choli (blouse) and Ghagra (long skirt), it forms the basic winter wear for the women of Haryana. A deviation from the phulakri is the "bagh" (garden). In this case, the entire cloth is covered with embroidery. The phulkari is made by female members of a house, and takes a long time to make; sometimes even a few years. Traditionally, work on a phulkari commences from the time a daughter is born in the family and is given to her at her wedding. Against a red background, motifs of birds, flowers and human figures are stitched into the cloth. The bagh design almost always follows a geometric pattern, with green as the basic color probably because mainly Muslims worked on them. Although lacking in technical finesse, it makes up for the loss by a colorful display of its design.

Haryana durries are rather coarse, although spectacular geometric designs adorn the entire rug. The durries made with white triangles often set against a blue background are quite popular. In Haryana, durrie making is concentrated in and around Panipat.

Painting

Haryana was always a rendezvous for various tribes, invaders, races, cultures and faiths, going right back to BC 2500, and it witnessed the merging of numerous styles of painting. Discoveries of earthenware and designs painted on them in black and white found Siswal site, are the first impressions of art in this state. Mitathal and Banawali sites have also revealed that art did exist here, but definitely on a much smaller scale than that of the Deccan and southern India. The drawings are mainly in horizontal and vertical lines, with a little more creativity allotted to floral art. During Harshvardhana's reign art and painting received special attention for some time as the king himself was a painter of sorts.

In the past, the rich jagirdars (landlords) who liked paintings engaged artisans and painters to do up their houses; ceilings and the walls. Temples were another area where the painter got to work, decorating everything within reach with landscapes, dances, hunting expeditions, wrestling bouts, birds, bees, and love scenes. Come the 18th century, and the Marwaris made sure that painters got enough work, albeit under a Rajput style. The god Krishna was a big hit in the villages - walls, doors, windows all bore his likeness with the Mughal and Kangra styles merging with the Rajput style.

The walls of the palace of Maharaja Tej Singh in Mirpur in Gurgaon is adorned with paintings, following the Rajput pattern. The patterns on the walls express scenes from the Ramayana. The Asthal Bohar paintings are also in the Rajput style, and their influence can be seen even in the Shiva temples in Panchkula and Pinjore, Venumadhava temple in Kaul, the temples in Kaithal and Pabnama, the Kapil temple in Kilayat and the Sarsainth temple in Sirsa. The Rang Mahal in Pinjore is also decorated with wall paintings, an originality straight from the hands of Mughal painters. The samadhis of Lala Balk Ram and Lala Jamuna Das in Jagadhari in Ambala are famous for their wall paintings from Hindu mythology. The entrances to both are flanked by heavily painted dwarapalas.

Kurukshetra's Bhadri Kali temple has religious themes and frescos running throughout its structure. The second floor is covered with murals, as is the haveli (house) of Rani Chand Kaur in Pehowa, the temple of Shri Ram Radha in Pehowa and the temple of Baba Shrawan Nath. In fact, you'll find similar paintings in temples and holy Hindu places throughout Haryana. The Persian style infused with script also gains prominence, especially with murals in which the Persian script is freely used. Mughal paintings also seeped into Hindu temples, especially in Kaithal, Kalayat and Rohtak. In Rohtak paintings have been found which are now in possession of the Manuscripts Department of Kurukshetra University. Liberal use of blue, pink, green, orange and red enhance the beauty of these paintings, which are of the Lord Vishnu and his incarnations.

Sculpture

Sculpture Rock and stone were the most common subjects for the development of art, right from the Maurya period to Harshvardhan to the Mughals and the British. Gods formed the basis of sculpture in ancient Haryana, and likewise all over India. Sculpture in Haryana was concentrated around central and northern parts and was basically religious in content. Vishnu was the most important, and he and his incarnations were enough material for sculptors to start cutting away. A figure of Vishnu found in Kurukshetra is a remarkable piece of art, showing the god with four arms gracefully reclining on the coils of Anantnag, the many-headed snake. This stone figure was probably made in the 10th century AD. Sandstone was widely used, be it green, buff, gray or black. But besides the images of Hindu gods and goddesses, Jain images from the Pratihara period (9th century) have also been found, all made of sandstone. The Buddha also surfaces once in a while, like in Rohtak where he was found seated cross-legged on a lotus pedestal and made entirely of gray stone.

The Surajkund Crafts Mela celebrates the finest handlooms and handicrafts traditions of country. It is a fortnight long event that embodies the spirit that runs through the people of India and its rich culture. It is held in the month of February from 1st-15th. The Surajkund Crafts Mela is held just 8 km from south Delhi.

Beneath thatched roof platforms, master crafts persons carefully display the finest of handlooms and handicrafts from all over the country. The event is so colorful and rich in experience, that many a tourist has returned to visit it again and again. The prices are relatively low compared to emporia, and some of the stuff can be amazing. Shops at the Mela bustle with the brilliance of mirror encasing embroidery, delicate lace work, folk motifs on terracotta forms, metal and cane-ware, the tinkle of bangles, shimmer of iridescent silks and the jingle of toys and trinkets. The Surajkund Crafts Mela is more than a celebration of crafts. At the fan shaped open-air-theatre name 'Natyashala' rich folk dances and musical evenings are held throughout the mela fortnight.

   
 
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