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Art & Crafts in Andhra Pradesh

Handicrafts
Banjara Needle Crafts Think of nomad, caravaners, gypsies and you think of them as “free people”. Free from the binds of urban life, they evoke dreams of the life spirit roaming without fetters.And it is from this that the Banjaras in Andhra Pradesh seem to have captured their exuberant clothes. Nomads in the past, the Banjaras today aggregate in groups called 'tandas'. Staying in communes, they still strive to preserve the fascinating and unpredictable traditions of their ancestors. Tattooed women with hands weighed down by ivory bangles create the memorable mirror work which the Banjaras are famous for.

Bidri Crafts, Hyderabad This art of silver inlay on metal has always kept historians guessing. Various accounts exist about its origin and entry into India and subsequently Andhra Pradesh.

If one were to believe the craftsmen themselves, they say that the art originated in Iran seven centuries ago. It was brought down by migrants. Zealously guarded by its practitioners, the art has successfully expressed the experiences of the Sufis, the aesthetic values of the Moghuls and the yearning of warriors to decorate their ornaments of valour-swords, daggers, lances and shields. Today, Bidri has been aptly contemporarised producing cufflinks, name plates and more. But always retaining the old grandeur that won the heart of many a king, warrior, scholar and commoner.

Broadly speaking, there are four main stages in the manufacture of Bidri They are (i) casting (ii) engraving (iii) inlaying and (iv) oxidising. The articles are cast with the help of moulds of red clay into which the molten solution of copper and zinc prepared in the ratio of 1: 16 is poured. The surface of the rough cast of the articles is filed and smoothened with sand paper and then rubbed with a solution of copper sulphate to impart a dark surface to provide a suitable base for the next stage of tracing the design and engraving. The designs are traced by hand, by the craftsmen with the help of chisels. Next, pure silver wire or sheet (gold in rare cases) is hammered into the grooves of the design and the surface smoothened with the help of sand paper and files or with the help of a buffing machine. In the ultimate interesting stage, the articles are heated gently and treated with a solution of sal-ammoniac and earth taken from old fort buildings which has the effect of making the entire surface turn jet black providing a distinct contrast to the shining silver inlay. It is this contrast that lends Bidri a uniqueness that no other metalware could possibly claim. Finally, oil is rubbed on the piece to deepen the black matt coating.

Bronze Castings Before making bronze idols, the craftsman had to carefully study verses from the Shilpashastra. The verses were called dhyana and instructed the craftsman on the physical measurements, proportions, description of the deity, characteristics, symbolism and above all, aesthetics.

This is how the craftsmen set about creating masterpieces from bronze in ancient India What is also interesting is the guidance that was sought from nature for modelling icons - eyebrows were modelled after neem leaf or fish; nose, the sesume flower, the upper lip, a bow; chin, a mango stone; neck, the conch shell and so on.

In solid casting of icons, the mould is made by giving several clay coatings on a prepared wax model, but with a different clay each time.These convey the contours of the model to the cast-image and are, therefore, important. The molten alloy is then poured in a thin and even stream into the mould. When the mould is broken, care is taken to see that the head of the icon is out first as a good omen.

Budithi Brassware There is a small village called Budithi in Central Srikakulam, a district in Andhra Pradesh. Here, life revolves around creating beautiful shapes out of alloys. The shapes range from the charmingly traditional to the elegantly modern. The art form expresses itself as traditional cooking utensils and also in forms that suit contemporary needs - like flower pots and planters.

Usually made of brass, the objects have patterns that are geometric, with straight lines and curves forming simple and striking presentations. Floral patterns abound too.

Dokra metal Crafts, Adilabad Tribal in origin, the Dokra metal craft is common to the tribal belts of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. In Andhra Pradesh this craft is found in Chittalbori and Ushegaon in Adilabad District.

What makes Dokra unique is that no two pieces are alike. Deftly created by hand, the objects have an individualistic touch. Figurines, horses, drummers, peculiar shaped spoons and hauntingly original tribal Gods can be seen in Dokra. Primarily made from brass scrap, the objects also have a core of clay preserved within the metal casting, unlike other metal work.

Durgi Stone Craft, Durgi Durgi is situated 10Kms from Macherla . The School of sculpture and stone carving is located here. The ancient skill which produced masterpieces of atr and sculpture seen at Nagarjunakonda museum continues to be practiced and taught here.the artisans were moved down to this place when the Nagarjuna Sagar Irrigation Project Reservoir inundated their traditional dwellings. These artisans generation after generation continue to follow the traditional methods and styles thereby playing acrucial role in keeping this art from alive for posterity.

Kondapalli Toys, Kondapalli Kondapalli toys are made of softwood, known as Tella Poniki. Apart from Poniki wood, sawdust, tamarind seed powder, enamel gums and watercolours are used in making these toys. After carving the toy on wood, a paste made of tamarind, wood and sawdust is used for giving further shapes and attaching limbs etc., to the toy. This paste is also used for giving the final touch. The toy is then left for a day or two to dry,after sudda (White lime) colour is painted on the toy.

When the toys are dried, artists colour the toy. Two sets of Kondapalli toys are most prominent. The village set constitutes toys of various occupations of people in the village. The artists choose colors symbolizing the character of the image. The influence of Islamic idiom is prominent in some of the toys. It is believed that these artists had migrated from Rajasthan. This can be known from their craft, which has the influence of 17th Century Rajasthani style in features(pointed nose and veil over the head).

Lacquer Ware, Etikoppaka Lacquer craft is the application of lacquer on wood in pleasing shades to create a distinctive appeal. Etikoppaka in Andhra Pradesh is one of the most important centres of this craft.

Lacquering is done on a lathe, hand- or machine-operated. For turning slender and delicate items, the hand-lathe is preferred. Lac is applied in a dry state. That is, the lacstick is pressed against the woodenware to be lacquered. As the latter keeps revolving the heat from friction softens the lac, enabling the colour to stick. Designs are painted with a brush on figures, objects and toys. Among the most popular lacquerware are the lac bangles. Hitherto studded with gold and precious stones, today they are also available with beads, glass, stones, mirrors and more.

Nirmal Arts - Paintings & Toys, Nirmal In Nirmal town, Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh, there is a concentration of craftsmen known as Nakash, whose traditional art is painting scenes from the Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana.

These craftsmen use indigenous colours made from minerals, gum and herbs. The now familiar gold in Nirmal work is got from herbal Juices. Over the years, Nirmal work has grown to meet new needs. Moving away from being mere painters of epics, the craftsmen today paint motifs in the style of the old Indian schools. Moghul miniatures are reproduced beautifully on soft white wood. This white wood called Ponniki is strengthened with coatings of tamarind seed paste, fine muslin and pipeclay, before being painted.

Veena Manufacturing, Bobbili One of the oldest Musical instruments known in India, with a mention of it in almost all ancient texts, the Saraswathi veena is an integral part of carnatic music, winning the hearts and earning the applause of music lovers the world over.

Over the last three centuries, a unique style of playing the Veena has developed in Bobbili, called the 'Bobbili Veena Sampradayam'. It exponents have performed to much acclaim from Indian and international audiences. This achievement was matched with a rise in the fine and intricate art of Veena making. The Saraswathi veenas of Bobbili are unique in depth and fullness of tone and are remarkable for their exquisite designs and patterns.

You can take home a memento Veena, available in Miniature size,for not only the aesthetic element but also as a symbol and remainder of India's cultural heritage.
Handlooms
Chirala Textiles, Chirala Handlooms Chirala is well known for its textiles . A large quantity of oil is used in preparing yarn for weaving . Once the fabric is ready it is wrapped with wax & clay before being dyed in selected colours . Bedspreads, curtains, tapestry fabrics & sarees are popular offerings.

Dharmavaram Sarees, Dharmavaram Handlooms Dharmavaram is famous for silk sarees all over the world. No functions complete without wearing these sarees. These sarees have simple, plain borders without much contrast. Borders are usually broad with brocaded gold patterns or butta, pallus of the sarees have exclusive designs. These sarees are woven with tussar silk also. This place is also known for its expertise in making leather puppets.

Eluru Carpets, Eluru Handlooms Eluru is famous for its thriving woollen pile carpet industry. The Persians who migrated to this part of the world during the Muhammaddin regime have developed the carpet industry. Most of the carpets produced here are exported.

Gadwal Sarees, Gadwal Handlooms Gadwal is internationally renowned for beautiful sarees. The Sari body is cotton while the border and pallu are in silk. The cotton and silk fabrics are woven separately and then attached together. Rich traditional designs adorn the pallu and the border. The mango motif is usually used in the designs. Yellow, parrot- green, pink and beige are the colours used most often.

Ikat Weaving Handlooms Ikat is a skill of weaving randomly dyed yarn in natural zigzag or geometric patterns. It is truly an art of weaving that won accolades throughout the world. It originated in Nalgonda district of Andhra Pradesh and now practised mainly in Puttapaka, Pochampalli and Chautuppal villages. The technique is unique and extremely popular.

This technique originated from Telia-rumal. Telia is derived from tel (Oil) which is used in sizable quantity in preparing the yarn for weaving. Ikat enables the weaver to program precisely the exact pattern of colours on the finished fabric by wrapping it up with wax and clay before dipping it in select dyes. Ikat is popular as lungi, shoulder cloth, turban cloth earlier but now sarees, dupattas, purses, files, bags, mats and bedsheets are more in demand. Pochampalli, Koyalagudem, Choutuppal, Puttapaka and Narayanpur are some of the centers of Ikat weaving. Items include sarees, blankets, mats, carpets, coasters, fancy bags etc.

Kalamkari Fabrics, Machilipatnam Handlooms Kalamkari is the craft of painted and printed fabrics. It is an art form that was developed both for decoration and religious ornamentation.

The world famous Kalamkari Fabrics include includes a range of special mythological designs for Hindus, prayer carpets for Mohammadans, tent lining cloth, chintz, table clothes and curtain clothes printed in attractive colors. Polavaram and Pedana are prominent centers of manufacturing Kalamkari block prints. The art was introduced during the reign of Qutub Shahis when the entire Telugu country was under their control. The Kalamkari block printing produces a variety of designs on bed sheets, wall hangings, sarees, lungies, napkins etc. Many Islamic patterns are prominent among the designs of Machilipatnam. The shamiyana covers and prayer cloth are painted with typical Persian designs. Flowers, birds, and animal forms are commonly used designs.

Mangalagiri Sarees Mangalagiri Handlooms Dress materials and sarees made from Mangalgiri cotton are extremely popular. Mangalgiri , located 12 Kms from Vijayawada is a prominent pilgrimage center in Andhra Pradesh . It is famous for the Panakala Swamy temple Narasimha Swamy temple in Mangalgiri town.

Uppada Sarees Handlooms Uppada, a beach town located 20 kms from Kakinada is famous for beautifully designed cotton sarees. At Peddapuram, 20 kms from Kakinada one can shop for exquisitely designed silk sarees produced by local artisans. Bandarulanka, 4 kms from Amalapuram is yet another famous place for choicest silk and cotton sarees woven locally.

Venkatagiri The Venkatagiri saris have graceful strains of gold all over. These sarees are available in cotton and silk, with pure silver zari and brocade designs in the border. The bright Venkatagiri saris have pleasant colours with golden dots, leaves, parrots or simple geometrical designs.
Kuchipudi Dance
Kuchipudi, the indigenous style of dance of Andhra Pradesh, was born in the village of Kuchelapuri or Kuchelapuram, from which it takes its name. According to legends, its founder was Sidhendra Yogi, a devotee of Lord Krishna. He taught this dance to some Brahmin boys in the village and the descendents of those Brahmin families carried on the tradition. From its origin back in the 3rd century BC, it has remained a continuous and living dance tradition of the Kuchipudi region.

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