Gesso Work

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             Gesso Work-Rajasthan


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                                                                                          Gesso Work
Introduction of Gesso Work

At its commencing place Gesso painting is also known as Nakashi art. The technique was used to decorate the ceilings, pillars and walls, of Bikanerís Junagarh Fort and Anup Mahal with magnificent golden patterns of floral and animal forms, often set against summarizing in bright colours. Nakashi work on camel leather became popular during the time of British in India,Camel hide was light and tough, and saddles and bags that were normally used for transferring water became ordinary bases for Nakashi work in this desert kingdom and neighboring areas. Leather work is an old craft in India that starts as a cottage industry, and continues, in such huge areas.

Leather work as a cottage industry worked with different groups who are performing diverse roles in the preparation of the leather, and in devising products from leather. The fact that India has a very huge livestock population is in no contributed way to the productive output and continuity of this craft. All over the world the Gesso Work of Rajasthan is well-known. Bikaner is the heart of Gesso work in the state and a fine sample of such treated camel leather decorations is shown in the palace of the city. Probably the most commonly used gesso products are the camel-hide water containers of Bikaner, called Kopi.

Craft Process

The craft process starts with the preparing of a clay pattern on which a piece of previously cleaned and softened camel hide is extended. The piece is preserved in the sun for a maximum of 48hours before the pattern is removed. Then starts the akbara, or design making process, wherein the design is decorated onto surface using a paste of powdered bricks mixed with jiggery and fenugreek seed powder. The coloured are first painted in, followed by gold detailing and slight black outlines that help to define the designs and background. Finally, the ground colour, generally red and green, is applied and the whole surface is covered with traditionally prepared shiny surface called Chandras. The most popular gesso compositions at Bikaner is the taarabandi, a star decorated sky and naqqashi, a design of minute flowers and motifs.

One of the supreme crafts to become known from Bikaner, the inner hide of the camel is used for the purpose. The hide is scratched till its paper is thin and transparent. It is then patterned into different types of hip flasks, lamp shades, perfume phials or vases. It is then painted over with fine gesso work using gold to lend richness to the otherwise bright reds and greens used in the work.

                            Gesso Work of Rajasthan                               Gesso Work of Rajasthan

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