ABSTRACT

India is a diverse country with a vast range of art forms and cultures which serve as a unique identification for the area of their origin. These together contribute to the rich heritage of this country. This study titled “Rejuvenating Folk Paintings on Textile Products: A Review” is an attempt to bring together various efforts made by entrepreneurs, researchers, academic institutes, designers, organizations and craftsmen of this country to bring back Indian folk painting to life through their application on textiles/ textile products. Work done during the last five years (2016-2020) has been reviewed and discussed. The aim of this study is to help and provide necessary inputs related to past work done in this field. This is expected to be beneficial for textile revivalists, designers, students and all those who are working or are willing to work for the revival of folk paintings of India by applying them on different media and product diversification.

KEYWORDS: Heritage, rejuvenating, craftsmen, product diversification, designers, entrepreneurs.

INTRODUCTION                                          

India is a land of diversity, a fact that is blatantly visible in people, culture, and climate of this nation. “This country has hundreds of ethnic groups scattered from north to south and east to west, each with its own art form representing its taste, needs, aspirations, aims, joys, sorrows and struggles”. “With regional peculiarities, nature around and a different pattern of day-today life apart, their art reveals each group’s ethnic distinction and creative talent” [1]. Along with adding richness to heritage of India, these art forms have fascinated people all over the world.

Warli Paintings of Maharashtra are creative expression of the women of a tribe known as Warli. The name of this painting is dedicated to this tribe. These paintings are a picturization of daily life. Scenes in these paintings include animals, birds, humans in their daily activities, celebrations, hunting etc. These paintings are expressed by these words- “Painted white on mud walls, they are pretty close to pre-historic cave paintings in execution and usually depict scenes of human figures” [2].

Another bold and colourful expression of the feminine creativity is the Madhubani Painting of Bihar which is also named as of Mithila Art due to its roots in the Mithila region of Bihar. Originally painted on mud walls, motifs of hindu deities like Devi Durga, Devi Saraswati and Lakshmi, Lord Shiva, Krishna, Tulsi plant, Moon and Sun, wedding processions and rituals etc. are depicted using mineral pigment colours. Geometric shapes eg: fine lines are used for the purpose of filling.

Aipan paintings of Kumaon region is a ritualistic folk art, is believed to provide protection from the evil. Events like festivals, auspicious occasions and even death rituals are prominently expressed in white colour (cooked rice paste) in this painting.  Floor and walls of the houses serve as the canvas for this art. Red ochre mud called ‘Geru’ in local language is coated to provide a background.

Phad painting of Rajasthan is done on cloth depicting local deities and stories, and the legends of local rulers. It is a type of scroll painting made using bright and subtle colours. The outline of paintings are first drawn using blocks and later on filled with colours. These paintings are often carried from place to place by the traditional singers, who narrate the various themes depicted on scrolls. Along with Phad, Rajasthan is also known for its elaborate, highly intricate and refined, Pichwai paintings. They are used as backdrops in the famous Shrinathji Temple at Nathdwara. Their main theme is Shrinathji and his miraculous stories [3].

Gond community is famous for their unique style of painting which is famous by the name of Gond paintings. These paintings feature the relation of nature and its connection to humans on the walls and floors of the buildings of this tribe. “It is done with the construction and re- construction of each and every house, with local colors and materials like charcoal, coloured soil, plant sap, leaves, cow dung, lime stone powder, etc. The images are tattoos or minimalist human and animal forms” [4] [5]. According to the beliefs of the tribal people, these paintings attract good luck, so they used to paint these on their walls and floors. This art work was also very skilfully used by the Gond tribe to record their history.

Rogan Paintings, an art form used for painting textiles in the Kutch district (Gujarat), declined in the latter half of the 20th century. This is now mastered and practiced by only 2 families of Kutch. “In this craft, paint made from boiled oil and vegetable dyes is laid down on fabric using either a metal block (printing) or a stylus (painting)”[6].

The Mandana paintings are connected to the Hadoti area of Rajasthan and that too with the Meena community residing in this area. This painting work is executed by the women of this community on floor and walls. According to the beliefs of this community, Mandana paintings provide protection to their homes. For this kind of paintings, lime stone powder or chalk powder is used as a painting medium. The ground is prepared by applying a mixture of cow dung, geru and a clay called rati. For painting, a date stick, a small cluster of hair or a piece of cotton fabric is used as a tool. Figures of women at work, lord Ganesha, birds and animals like peacock and tiger respectively, floral motifs etc. can be noticed in Mandana paintings. [7]

The Saura tribe belonging to Orissa state are known for their wall paintings based on spiritual and ceremonial themes. “A study of their art and painting tradition reveals the rich ancient tribal art idiom, which is still in vogue with popular appeal”[8]. These paintings appear somewhat similar to warli paintings and are given the name- ‘Ikons’. In these paintings, motifs like moon and sun, tree of life, animals like horses, elephants and also humans are found painted using natural colours prepared using white stone, earth, flower and leaf extracts.

With advancement in time, growing industrialization and modernization there has been a rise in preference for mass produced, machine made articles which has posed a threat to our traditional crafts and has raised concern in the country to preserve, sustain and cultivate our traditional assets so that they sustain the wave of modernization and remain available to the future generations. For this purpose, folk paintings can be applied on textile products which are an integral part of our life. These products range from small articles like handkerchiefs, purse and pouches, bags, clothing, up to large articles like bed covers and draperies. In this way these paintings can become a part of our daily lives resulting in their revival and growth.

The objective of this paper is to present a review of 5 works published during each of the past five years (2016-2020) respectively which aim at reviving Indian folk paintings through their application on textiles / apparel / lifestyle accessories.

MATERIAL AND METHODS

This paper is based on secondary sources. Extensive literature review was carried out to obtain elaborate information about various attempts made to apply folk paintings of India on textiles for the purpose of their revival within the span of past five years (2016-2020). Online research databases namely Academia, Researchgate, Krishikosh e-granth, Shodhganga, google scholar have been used to access research papers, review papers, conference proceedings, Ph. D/ Dissertation thesis and other related text. In addition to this books, newspaper articles, reports from government and national institutes, websites have also been accessed online. Keywords such as ‘Folk paintings of India’, ‘Intervention in folk art for application on textiles’, ‘Apparel for craft revival’ etc. have been used. The total works studied were categorized with reference to their publication year and five works from each year starting from 2016 to 2020 were selected for review in this paper.

DISCUSSION

This section  has been up into  5  parts on the basis of the year of publication of the respective studies.

Table-1: YEAR- 2016

Title of the study Painting in focus Discussion
Digitalization of motifs based on Indian Folk Paintings through CAD and

their Adaptation on Apparels using Digital Printing Technique

Madhubani Painting

and

Warli Painting

This study introduces the fusion of designs of Madhubani and Warli paintings by using Computer Aided Designing. Nine designs were prepared by the researchers for apparel items- kurtis, saris and ladies dress material and printing was done by Digital printing technique. For designing, CAD softwares (Coral draw and Adobe Photoshop) were used. The effort was to open new dimensions for Madhubani and Warli paintings through their application on apparel and make these paintings available to the modern fashion world.  The researcher attempts to combine these traditional art forms and modern technology so that they sustain and are well preserved [9].
Adaptation of Designs for Textile Products Inspired from Madhubani Painting Madhubani Paintings The researchers used traditional motifs of Madhubani painting and attempted to apply them through hand painting on textile articles like cushion cover, folders and table covers. The motifs were adapted for application as center designs and borders on these articles. Thirty-six designs were developed for this study. Further they added that such attempts motivate people to pick up and upgrade their native crafts [10].
New Prospects for Women Empowerment through Value Addition

of Remnant Fabrics with Aipan Applique

Aipan Paintings The researchers considered an increasing concern for textile waste build-up on earth and also recognized the tribal folk painting “Aipan” as a source of rich designs for textile surface enrichment so they planned their study to develop green fashion products (bags in this case) using discarded textile materials and their surface enrichment with aipan motif through appliqué technique. They combined Aipan painting designs and appliqué craft which provided an original, new-fangled collection to those who prefer to have traditional art with some minimum variations. This attempt was expected to help in the preservation of Aipan and also expand the existing design catalogue for textile designing [11].
To revive and popularise the Pichwai paintings of Nathdwara, designer Divya Sheth presented her collection ‘Nijmandir’, at Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2016. The designs of pichwai paintings were applied on modern attire by natural dyeing, block printing and hand painting techniques. Floor length garments with fluid silhouettes designed with a colour palette of blue, grey-black, pink, golden, deep indigo. All these colours were used to symbolize Lord Krishna who is the focus of these paintings. Elaborate embroidery work was used by the designer to depict Nathwara temple under starlight sky [12].
Similarly, textile designer Bina Rao showcased her collection with Kalamkari painting which “was resplendent with warm hues of brown, red and ochre. Her collection included garments that were flared, long skirts in raw silk with a highlight of hand-painted Kalamkari in Chintz style in deep red and rust; overlap short blouse with embroidery and patchwork with Kalamkari motifs; dupattas woven in silk and painted with Kalamkari among other mesmerizing designs”[13]. This contemporarization was made to fit kalamkari into the modern world leading to its growth and sustenance. Showcasing such collections is a lasting impact on the society and popularize art forms leading to their growth.

Table-2: YEAR 2017

Title of the study Painting in Focus Discussion
An Account Of Dots And Lines – The Gond Tribal Art Of Madhya Pradesh, Their Tradition, Relevance And Sustainability In Contemporary Design Domain Gond Paintings This study throws light on endeavours of government agencies/ institutions to bring back Gond paintings to life and lift up the conditions of the artisans associated with this art. Through her study the researcher reveals about a training program run by the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Bhopal aimed at training the women of Dindori district so as to preserve this tribal painting in its traditional form and diversify the existing product range. New products like kurta, dupatta, top, scarf, stole have been created for todays educated customer. This was also aimed at making these women financially self-reliant [14].
Designing of apparel using traditional Gond painting motif Gond Paintings The researchers selected screen printing method to apply gond painting motifs/designs on apparel as an effort to revive this age old art. According to the researchers, “apparel is one thing which people usually change very fast use by using various motifs designing can be done on apparel in order keep alive motifs of gond painting and also enhance the income of artisans”. The researchers present their study was an initial step in the direction of creating fusion designs of gond painting using computer aided technology. They combined motifs of gond painting with screen printing for use on apparel. The printed products (stole and kurtis) are an attempt to revive tribal arts of India by modernization and technical advancement [15].
Revival and Application of Rogan Painting on Waterproof Reversible Denim Jackets Rogan Painting The researcher undertook this study to revive Rogan painting through their application on reversible jackets. The objectives were to design and construct reversible jacket of age group 25-35 and to imitate Rogan painting using fabric liner on denim with tradition motif of Rogan painting. Their market survey report stated that the reversible jacket made is widely acceptable by the market, of about 95% of respondents appreciated the attempt and accepted the revival of Rogan art on reversible jackets made of waterproof and denim fabric [16].
New perspective in textile designing with aipan design through tie and dye technique Through this study, the researchers intended to use the tie and dye technique with Aipan motifs for product development. Motifs were selected, keeping in mind the suitability for tie and dye technique without distorting the original design/motif and then evaluated. The designing of textile articles was done through Computer Aided Designing (Coral Draw Software). Two designs/motifs were combined together for preparation of design combination and thus, five designs were prepared from ten selected motifs which were used for design arrangements for products namely, bed sheet, cushion cover, bolster cover, stole and bag. This study was again, an attempt, to preserve Aipan tribal art on through textile product designing [17].
The revival of dying legacy: Tikuli art

 

The researchers studied Tikuli hand painting. Their objective was to restore and protect the traditional art-“Tikuli with the solitary aim of uplifting the socio-economic standard of the craftsmen from the existing poverty level; to analyze Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats/ Challenges faced or to be faced by tikuli handicraft artisans” The motifs depict Indian wedding, festival of Bihar (Chatt Puja, Deepawali, Holi) stories of Ramayana-Mahabharat and Krishna Leela. They concluded that the designers have a key role to play in the direction of art and craft sustainability by their innovative ideas and modern techniques[18].

Table-3: YEAR- 2018

Title of the study Painting in Focus Discussion
Folk Arts: A strong Source of Designing Mandana, Warli, Gond, Saura, Aipan Paintings The objective of this study was to apply folk painting motifs on garments and life style accessories. The researchers collected original designs from various secondary resources and approximately 50 designs were selected for final application on products. After that, these designs are transferred through the different adornment techniques such as painting, embroidery, printing or combination of all above. The selected designs were then applied on products like T – Shirts, File folders, Bags made of paper, Pencil stand, etc. This brings about product diversification and also a wider scope for our folk paintings [19].
Study of Hand Painted Kalamkari to Design New Motifs Kalamkari Painting The researcher started with a concept to bring necessary alterations in Kalamkari prints to adapt it with for the present day generation, market conditions and keeping it in tune with the current trends. The original technique was kept intact. It was observed that currently available kalamkari products were expensive for youngsters so she developed youngsters centric designs keeping them affordable and for this reason she restricted the usage of colours to 2 or 3 because with increase in number of colours to be incorporated and detailing required, the cost of finished products rises. In this way youngsters can be made aware of the beauty of our rich cultural heritage which will further help in opening new avenues for our art forms [20].
Retracing Kalamkari’s journey: from classic to a

contemporary textile art

Kalamkari Painting The researcher mentions about Banasree Rao, Sangeet Natak Academy awardee founded ‘Angikam’ through which a variety of apparel is sold. ‘Angikam’ combines Kalmakari with zari, prints and threadwork from other parts of India and sells online and through ‘Kamala’ in Kolkata and ‘Santushti’, New Delhi. A similar effort is of Mamta Reddy who founded ‘Kalam Creations’. She has selling outlets in Hyderabad and Tirucahnur, Tirupati established to save this illustrious art and also take this craft to the elites who respect and search for ethnic work. Another effort mentioned by the researcher is of Artist Gudimetti Divya who has brought together Ikat weavers from Telangana state and Kalamkari artists for fusion of these two art forms. Padmashree Anita Reddy founded DWARAKA (Development of weavers and Rural artisans in Kalamkari Art) and brought together artists of Shrikalahati. Their products have reached distant markets. The art has grown and also the artists. Their products include trays, wallets, handbags, pouches, for spectacles and mobiles, jewellery boxes and pens using the Kalamkari motifs and fabric [21].
Fashion Products Development By Inspiration Of Indian Folk Art And Craft Designs Saura, Gond, Pattchitra, Mural The researchers took inspiration from paintings like saura, patachithra, gond and mural painting. They incorporated designs at selective location on woven and knitted apparels by block, screen   and    hand paintings. Products like Kurta, stole, t shirt swig bag, purse, pillow cover, wrap over skirt were developed. They found that “presently consumer preference is focusing more on the amalgamation of ethnic and modern design outfit. New innovative folk art products will have good and wider scope in the niche market segment of fashion product development and apparel retail space” [22].
Acknowledging the constant effort by designers revive folk paintings through their expression on textiles and apparel, it is worth to note that, designer Aartivijay Gupta showcased a tribal collection on Day 3 of the fashion week which was inspired by the Gond art of Madhya Pradesh. “Gond paintings were modified in wearable easy comfortable silhouettes. The collection had quirky gowns and dresses teamed with crop and longline jackets, saris teamed with balloon sleeve blouses, trousers and shirts and kurtas” [23].

Table-4: YEAR 2019

Title of the study Painting in focus Discussion
Adaptation of mandala art for development of design

suitable for textile articles

Mandala Paintings The researchers found out the possibility of bringing about adaptation in religious art of Mandala painting of Uttarakhand. They obtained motifs from mandala paintings, adapted them for printing and observed that those designs could be applied on household articles, apparel and other textile products. Other types of printing techniques can also be used. The study concluded that it is practical to use folk painting mandala for application on textile surfaces [24].
Aipan: An Inspiring Folkart for Textile Designing Aipan Paintings The researchers explored Aipan designs for the designing of woven borders. Borders which can be used as decorative elements in apparel as well as home textiles. These borders can be made more appealing by embroidery, sequins, printing, etc. For this study 10 aipan designs were gathered. From these designs 5 were symmetric and the remaining 5 were asymetric.  They were adapted for weaving and four border designs were prepared using each of these designs through Corel Draw software. Weaving was intended to be done through extra yarn figuring [25].
Daya Bansal, a Noida based designer launched her collection ‘Mithila’ in which she created garment designs with Western cuts to avoid restricting this Indian art to traditional wear, and so she used modern cuts like “trench coats, peplums, one-shoulder jumpsuit, printed dresses in cotton silk flared skirt and ruffled blouse sets, pencil skirts and unique pre-draped pantsuit saris”. She used silk and organza from Bihar and Varanasi, so that the collection looks rich and versatile at the same time (Sen, Inspired by Madhubani Art). Such attempts increase the scope for traditional arts, keeping it alive and available for the future [26].
Yosha Gupta, from Aligarh and is a Hong Kong-based entrepreneur, founded ‘Memeraki’. They make hand-painted bags, making art more accessible. According to Yosha, the idea was not to follow fashion trend but to promote the folk art and the creative artists who narrate stories through their art. With a team coming having a variety of people from small villages to cities, they focus creating products with a range of styles of paintings namely, Kalamkari, Madhubani, Assamese scroll, Gond [27].
Vineet Rahul showcased his winter/ festive men’s and womenswear collection “Pichwai” at Lakme Fashion Week taking inspiration from rich heritage of Pichwai. Rahul’s “contemporary interpretation of Pichwai” focuses majorly on floral motifs. For males he presented thick cotton kurta-coats, loose separates, and fusion-style suits featuring floral embroidery in hues including blue, grey, and green. For females loose tunic dresses paired with palazzo pants, wrap shirt-dresses were included in his collection [28].In this way the designer focuses the richness of pichwai paintings which will spread this art in the society through fashion and so will lead to the revival and growth of pichwai paintings.

Table-5: YEAR- 2020

Title of the Study Painting Discussion
Design Intervention & Craft Revival with Reference to Pichwai Paintings: A Contemporise Approach Pichwai Paintings Through this study the researcher raises concerns that the newer generation of the families involved in Pichwai paintings no more want to continue their family profession because they do not receive proper remuneration for such labour intensive job. The researcher mentiones about various efforts made by famous designers like Anita Dongre, Prashant, Neeta Lulla to use these paintings for designing products like jewellery, apparel and other fashion accessories. A collection of bridal wear in floral motifs from Pichwai Paintings designed by Anita Dongre has also been foung featured in the famous Vogue Magazine (5) [29].
CAD intervention for Revival, Stylization & Adaptation of Madhubani Traditional Textiles Madhubani Paintings The researcher suggests that Adobe Photoshop, illustrator and other similar softwares can be used to digitize hand drawn designs and their modification. The digitally modified designs can be printed on textiles to create a variety of textile articles such as sarees, stoles, handbags, apparel, bags, footwear, fashion accessories, etc. by using digital printers which can save time Furthermore, the researcher states that the Government of India has put forward many efforts to encourage and support artisans  so that their art gets recognition at national and international level [30].
Designing Cushions Picking Inspiration from Traditional Folk Painting: Sanjhi Sanjhi Paintings The researchers prepared cushion designs inspired from Sanjhi painting motifs. According to the researchers, “Sanjhi is traditional art used to during the pirtapaksh at the door steps for the worship of the ancestors”. The material used to design and develop the household product was art silk using free hand drawing. Five designs were prepared taking inspiration from Sanjhi motifs using coral draw software. This study would be helpful for the textile designers to create something innovative by taking the similar ideas [31].
Tata Power’s ‘SaheliWorld.org’  launched the ‘Warli Art Collection’ from its Jawahar artisans. Their aim was to revive and popularize Warli art and also inspire the youth. They offer a range of apparel products, seasonal utilities like umbrellas and even face masks for protection from COVID-19. They attempt to incorporate this age old art to everyday items so that they are well incorporated in our modern lifestyle, keeping them alive. The company has also enlightened the life of several artisans who were witnessing their art on the verge of extinction [32].
Rogan painting has been looked after and nourished by the family of Abdul Gafur Khatri of Nirona village. “Gafur became so attached to Rogan that he promised his father to take it to the international level, which he did eventually” [33]. Initially, Rogan was used to embellish mainly ghaghra-cholis, bridal trousseaus, bedsheets, and tablecloths it is now being used for many more contemporary items. Presently there is a vast range of products at Nirona where we can witness this antique and rare art of Rogan Painting. They have made changes to make this art a better fit for the modern world.  They currently make Sarees, Kurtas, Dresses, Dupattas, Chaniya- Cholies, Antique Odhani, Jackets, Wall Piece, Cushion Covers, Mobile Covers, Hand Purses, File Folders and many more (roganartnirona.com) [34]. All these products can be found displayed on their website http://www.roganartnirona.com/works.html.

 CONCLUSION

Our rich cultural heritage must be protected and made to flourish so that they see the light of the future. Various folk paintings of India and their revival has been presented through this paper. Both traditional and modern methods have been used for revival of paintings as discussed in this paper. Some experts do not consider using modern processes like screen printing, digital printing as suitable majorly because of two reasons. First reason is that traditionally folk arts were ecofriendly and using modern methods violates this spirit and the second reason is that mass production of these folk arts will cause distortions in these art forms which will lead to loss of originality with time. After going through the works done for revival of folk paintings on textiles/ textile products, the researcher feels that a blended approach is the need of this hour. Neither manual nor modern industrial methods can alone complete the task. Along with this a combined effort of government and the citizens is required. We as citizens must be aware of our responsibility towards the rich heritage of our country. This study will provide helpful inputs about the past works for the upcoming efforts in this field.

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BY:

NIKITA SACHWANI

Guest Faculty, Department of Garment Production and Export Management, Government Arts Girls College, Kota