The Bastar Art : The gift of the tribes of Dandakaranya
The first and the second pictures are the specimen of their work. Notice the elaborate polish and the slenderness of images in the first, the second image of a bull is the Bull Nandi, the carrier of Supreme God Shiva, widely worshipped across India.
(India is a land of diversity. Lot of interactions between the so called "high" culture of elites and " low"culture of the tribes and other natives has led to intermixing and interlockings of mindsets,cultures and traditions. Gods with animal carrier or animal Gods worshipped across the country is are example of syncretic culture.)
The article thus celebrates the art and the labour of our brethren, the solitude loving tribes who are the founders of civilizations!
Rendezvous With The Craftsmen
I have the fortune of sharing a landscape with them. The "Dandakaranya" is an ancient name for the present day Bastar region, nestled in forests which etymologically too stands for "a region inhabited by forests".
My father introduced me to the metal craft when I was quite young. He took me to an isolated village where families are involved in the business. While the craft is gaining recognition, the overall penury of the craftsmen, their traditional mode of working with the not so safe cerre perdue, was unnerving and appalling.
The technique of lost wax method or cirre perdue has many variants. It essentially involves creating a mould of wax which is then filled in with a molten metal and once it hardens, the wax is melted away.
As simple as it sounds, the process is frought with dangers and is laborious. The metal craftsmen, I saw and interacted with said that they work tirelessly from dawn to deck. I spotted some of them chipping the rough edges away with their bare hands, so that the model after polishing, looks clean and perfect.
And indeed, it turned out to be perfect. A slender woman with unusually big waist to hip ratio, carrying a basket on her head, holding it with her unusually long and slender hands, perfectly carved and postured in her innocent tribal pride.
I also saw the old man in glasses, whitened hands, quivering fingers picking up a rough piece of cloth to clean his hands and a drop of sweat falling off the ground.
The master said "beautiful! Isn't it " ?
I nodded as I saw the unknown craftsman leaving on his bicycle and his pale visage dissapearing into the ether of quite solitude of the Dandakaranya...