Rural Rajasthan - Arts of Rural Rajasthan

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Arts of Rural Rajasthan

The tourists especially came to Rajasthan to experience its rich customs, culture and traditions. Some of the famous traditional arts of Rural Rajasthan are body painting or tattoo, Mehandi and Puppetry. The tourists are not only attracted towards them but are also attracted towards turban, textiles and tie and dye of Rural Rajasthan.

The Art of Body Painting in Rural Rajasthan

A tattoo is a painful art of inserting various colourful pigment into the skin. In technical terms, it is known as the micro pigment implantation. Rajasthani tattoos are very much popular around the world and you can find most of the tourists expressing their interest in getting them done. The tattoos represents the tribal aspect of various groups with the unique patterns, which are very enchanting and powerful in nature. The Rajasthani women are very much fond of tattooing themselves as they believe that drawing tattoos will enhance their beauty and health. The tribal women of Rajasthan also strongly believe that tattoos are the only marks, which are carried by the soul after death. This tribal tattoo art, which has great significance and belief, since the times of kings and queens has now become more popular among the tourists. It is an ancient practice, which was

Tattoo in Rural Rajasthan

usually performed to represent the tribal communities of Rajasthan.  Some of the favourite designs are dot pattern, circles and crescents on the face, parrots, scorpions, flowers and images of gods and goddesses on the arms.  A wide variety of floral patterns, trees of eternal life (Kalpa Vraksha) and animals like Horse, camel, crocodile and a pair of peacocks are also applied over the calves and between the breasts of women. Some women also get the names of their husbands tattooed on the forearms as a token of their devotion and love. A dot on the forehead signifies Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, round clusters of dots with ray like appendages signifies Lotus (Kamal) or sacred wheel (Chakra) and Swastika signifies the sun. Traditionally the horse is associated with sun, the crocodile with goddess Ganga and the camel with regional God Gogaji, who is believed to have domesticated it for the first time. An interesting aspect of tattooing among the women is that the designs were used as a family heritage. Thus, the tattoo designs on the bodies of the elders are adopted by the younger ones in the family and this goes on from one generation to the other.

Process of Tattooing  

Once the tourist decide the design to be done over the chosen part of the skin, then the local Rajasthani tattooist punctured the desired pattern into the skin by means of sewing needle, which at times can be very much painful. When this pattern becomes visible and blood oozes out from various prick points, the design is rubbed by the lamp black and pressed by a thumb. The sap of a common herb (dudhi) is then

Tattoo in Rajasthan

applied as an antiseptic, to get the permanent designs.
Mehandi in Rural Rajasthan

Mehandi in Rural Rajasthan

In Rural Rajasthan, Mehandi is a very ancient folk art, which signifies life and prosperity. Mehandi is also known as henna, which is a temporary art of skin decoration. It is one of the most precious jewel for brides, and carry good luck for their married life. Mehandi is applied on various auspicious occasion like wedding, festivals, birth of a child. Today, the tourists have now become more interested in Mehandi, specially in its various mehandi patterns and designs and its lasting impact. Henna is considered to be an ancient herb of grace and healing. Once you apply on skin, it act as a valuable medicine, thus protecting the body from fungi and bacteria. It helps in headache, fever, burning feet, violent temper, keeping the body temperature cool and conditioning and gives natural colour to the hair. From late 1990s, the Rajasthan's Mehandi art has ruled the fashion market of the world and became famous and was popularly known as "Henna Tattoos". There are different forms of designs and patterns used at the time of various festive occasions. Although there are large variety of patterns, but the pattern known as chowk, literally meaning a courtyard, is most popular with the women. There is a specific design of Chowk for Gangaur, Teej, Holi and other festivals. The other favorite design is chopper, which is a game, played by

throwing dice. Pankhi or Beejani, yet another fabulous pattern, meaning a hand-fan, is a typical design for the summers. The famous lahriya pattern, which literally means a wave or a ripple, is the most popular pattern in the rainy seasons. In Rajasthan, Mehandi has achieved great significance and linked to spacious occasions like Karva Chauth, Raksha Bandhan, Weddings, Teej and all other related occasions. Bridal Design, Arabic Design, Henna Tattoos, Saroski Design, Crystal Patterns are the famous designs and patterns of Mehandi.

Process to Apply Mehandi

In the olden days, Mehandi paste was usually applied on the skin by using match sticks, but now the match sticks have been replaced by the plastic cone or a paint brush. Once all the items are ready, then various delightful patterns are applied with the help of plastic cone on hand or feet. After applying, the hands or feet are wrapped with the tissue, plastic, or medical tape to lock in the body heat, so that it can create more intense colour on the skin. Then, leave the paste on your skin for at least 8 hours. Then remove dry mehandi by rubbing, after rubbing apply mehandi oil on the skin. It is advisable not to wash hands with the water and not to use any soap or cream on the design of the mehndi for about 24 hours.

Mehandi in Rajasthan
Puppetry in Rural Rajasthan

Puppetry in Rural Rajasthan

The Puppets are locally known as Katputlis in the colourful soil of Rural Rajasthan. The puppetry is one of the most ancient forms of entertainment and amusement. Besides providing enjoyment, they also convey a meaningful message to the village folks. Rod puppetry, Glove puppetry, String puppetry, Shadow puppetry, String-Rod puppetry are the different types of traditional puppetry. No fair in the village, or religious festival, or the social gathering is complete without the charm of puppetry. Puppetry is a creative, exiting and entertaining form of art, and requires special skills to play these magnificent puppets through fingers. The episodes from Indian epics like Mahabharata, Ramayana and exploits of Amar Singh Rathore of Nagaur are depicted by the puppeteers. This art is very popular among the rural folks. The puppetry has a very long and interesting history. According to myth, the puppeteers were from the wandering communities of Bhats in rural Rajasthan, traditionally associated with the art of puppetry and were originally inhabiting the area around Nagaur in the Marwar region. They used to move from one village to another, at the time of festive seasons, with their box of katputlis and dholaks, spreading the unique art and culture. The another most influential story states that once there was a carpenter, who made two alluring wooden figures and when goddess Parvati saw them, she slipped into the figures in a playful mood, and later the Lord Shiva also entered in the other figure and both of them started playing a divine dance.

By watching this, the carpenter thought that his creation has came alive, but after a while they become lifeless. Since then, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati have blessed the innovation. This was how the puppetry was born. Good fabric for costume, colours to give facial expressions, plaster of paris or clay modelling to make body, wood material for face and other items, invisible threads to play and colourful papers are used in the puppet show. Puppetry is one of the most costly medium of entertainment, as it involve activities like drawing, painting, wood carving, carpentry, plaster cast making, clay modeling, costume designing, story, script writing, dramatization, song and music composition. The puppets are beautifully decorated, and manipulated with the help of strings, thus the strings are looped into the hands and fingers of puppeteer. The show starts with the fanfare of loud beats on the dholak, a drum which is played by the female members of the troupe, whereas the whistling and puppet playing is done by the puppeteers or male members, who produce sharp, trembling and shrilling sounds through the rustic reeds they hold in their mouth. The dialogues in the play are narrated by the female members through appropriate songs. However, a cloth is placed over the cots to hide the performer from the public gaze. He moves the joined limbs of the puppets with the help of strings attached to each of them, the loose ends being looped over the puppets which effectively convey the broad sentiments of each character they represent in front of public. These stunning puppets lie lifeless on the stage until the strings are pulled by the puppeteer. Most of the puppeteers are usually from the same family, and this occupation passes from one generation to another. In Rural Rajasthan, puppet shows are organised to ward off evil spirits and to bring rain and prosperity in the lives of villagers. Most of the puppet shows are played only for a hour or so, which is much liked by the young children. However, today, most of the Rajasthan puppet theaters have lost their charm, due to the influence of cinema, television and video. But still puppetry is a popular among the children, educators and communicators. Today, the Rajasthan Government, has realized the importance of saving this ancient art of folklore and taken initiatives to open many puppetry theaters and also regularly organise puppet shows in the countryside of Rural Rajasthan. Nowadays, various stage shows are organised for puppetry, followed by the full-throated songs of the Mirasis, Langas and Manganiyars, which belong to old pastimes, depicting a traditional, leisurely pace of life.

Turban in Rural Rajasthan
Turban of Rural Rajasthan

The turbans of Rural Rajasthan are the most colourful and impressive in the whole of India. The use of turbans was basically started by the Rajput community, who reside in Rajasthan and wear distinct turbans. In the Hindi language, turban is known as Paag, Safa or Pagri. It is also said that the style of the turban changes with every 15 km you travel within the geographical boundaries of Rajasthan. In some parts of the region, the size of turban indicate the position of the person in the society they live. The tourists have also become attracted towards these turbans and also enthusiastically participate in turban tying competitions held in many fairs and festivals of Rajasthan. The Maharajas of Rajasthan were also known for their colourful traditional costumes and grand turbans. The turbans are worn as a long scarf wrapped around the head of men, as a sign of identification and social prestige. Each colour of the turban has its own importance and significance. Ochre is the colour of the mendicant, while the saffron is commonly worn at the time of weddings. In the medieval past, the saffron colour also denoted valour and chivalry. A turban is usually 82 feet long and 8 inches wide and achieving different styles with this unstitched cloth, requires great skill. Skilled maidens in turban tying, were employed by the royal courts, but Rajasthanis generally take pride in practicing and perfecting the art of turban-tying themselves. When the rulers were besieged by an enemy, and food and water supplies were scanty, desperate warriors wearing saffron turbans would sneak out of their citadels to lead sudden surprise

attacks on the enemy. The Pancharanga or five colour turban is the main turban in the colourful soil of Rajasthan. Turbans of specified colours were worn to mark periods of mourning. A white turban is worn for funeral processions by immediate family members. Whereas the khaki, blue and dark maroon are reserved for the solemnity of a condolence visit. In Rajasthan, shepherds wear red turbans, Bishnois wear white turbans and the other tribal communities wear printed turbans. Between the month of February and March and Holi festival, the royal Rajasthani men, wear a falgunia turban having white and red designs. In the month of July, they wear turban of motiya or pearl pink colour. A green and pink striped or yellow and red striped lahariya turban is worn during the time of monsoon. The famous Black Chunari (tie dyed) with the red borders is mainly worn at the time of

Turban-tieing in Rajasthan

Diwali, festival of lights and a bright Saffron colour turban is worn in the Dussehra festival. The Mothara turban, with tiny round designs is worn at the time of Raksha Bandhan festival, yellow turban is worn during Basant Panchami (spring festival) and the light pink turban is worn in the month of October, at the time of Sharad Poornima (full moon night). The turban's size and shape is also influenced by the climatic conditions of the different regions. Turbans in the hot desert areas are large and loose. Farmers and shepherds, who need constant protection from the elements of nature wear long turbans. Rough fabric turbans can be used as blanket. The long turbans can also be used as the pillow, blanket and towel. The muddy water can also be strained through a turban. It can also be used as a rope to draw water from a well with a bucket.

Textiles in Rural Rajasthan

Textiles of Rural Rajasthan

Rajasthan is the heartland of hand-block printing. Magical uniqueness of Rajasthani block printing still continues to spread colour with its exquisite floral prints in vegetable colour. Stunning, unusual combinations of pink, purple, orange, turquoise, parrot green, saffron, crimson and gold and silver colour add the beauty to the fabric. In the hand block printing, the artisans soak carved wooden blocks in different colours and then paste them on the fabric thus creating some magical wonder on the piece of cloth. Exquisite floral prints and designs made in vegetable colour is the specialty of Rajasthan block printing. The art of Khari or overprinting in gold is also practiced in Rajasthan. This makes the traditional form of block printing even

more charming and contemporary. Now a days, printed fabrics are produced by machines that have threatened the age-old art of block printing. If the print is made by hand, there will be block marks on the reverse side of the print at the regular interval, with slightly messy corners running towards the center of the piece. Sometimes machine prints also copy these untidy lines, but the similarity of color pattern, and clean print on the reverse side, make it quite simple to mark them as impersonators. Rajasthani textiles came in a fascinating range of dyed and block-printed fabric which are further embellished with embroidery. The women of Rajasthan have mastered the art of embroidering fabrics. In applique, different pieces of cloth are patched together to make a multi-coloured mosaic. The exotic colours, shapes and pattern combinations against contrasting backgrounds catch the eye. Inspired from Gujarat, the mirror work is also famous among the local women and people. The extraordinary creation of art with the help of a piece of cloth and needle-thread can never be as amazing as Rajasthani embroidery which is visible from the exquisite applique and mirror works of the state.

Tie and Dye in Rural Rajasthan

Rajasthan is also known for some excellent fabric and the most precious one is the tie and dye work which is also called 'bandhni' in local language. The art of bandhani is highly skilled process and Rajasthani artisans have come a long way in developing new designs and patterns. Now the tie and dye clothes are one of the most exported fabrics of India. The tourists have always became attracted towards the heart-warming designs, dyed in a particular style. Colour also plays a unique role in tie and dye fabrics. In tie and dye, different methods are used to tie the fabric into small points producing a number of patterns. Lahariya, Mothda, Ekdali and Shikari are the most popular patterns among all the styles of bandhni and exhibit a unique look and nature. In Lahariya, the long lines of various colour runs diagonally through the entire piece of cloth. In Mothra, a checked effect is shown with opposite diagonals and coloured lines. Shikari designs include human and animal figures along with multi coloured Laddu and Jalebi patterns. The human and animal

Tie and Dye of Rural Rajasthan

figures depicted nicely in the dazzling colours is the identity of Shikari bandhni. In Ekdali pattern, there are small circles and squares in different shades of colour and the cluster of three, four and seven multi coloured dots make it even more gorgeous. Sikar and Jodhpur are the most favoured destinations for excellent tie and dye work while Jaipur, Barmer, Pali, Udaipur and Nathdwada are still on their way to attain the maximum height.


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