The annam, annapakshi or hamsa as it is variously referred to, is a recurring motif on a Kanjivaram sari, drawn from the sculptures of ancient traditional art and incorporated into temple sculpture and Hindu iconography. It is a mythological bird representing a messenger of love and peace, resonating as a dove in the Western world. The celebrated poet Kalidasa’s epic poem Kumarasambhava refers to a garment as Hamsa Dukula, describing the bird as a feature of decoration on the heroine’s wedding sari, which is symbolic to spreading love and peace.
Ganda-Bherunda – or the two-headed eagle
The two-headed eagles present in imagery across civilizations for centuries, and had the Kingdom of Mysore recording the picture of ‘Ganda-Bherunda’ as one of the insignia and titles of the Royal Wadiyars. It came on Vijayanagara mints and soon moved into textiles as woven motifs. In the Kanjivaram fabric, this mystical bird motif takes on a regal splendor woven in rich gold zari and coloured silk yarn, symbolizing victory.
When thousands of families carry on a legacy for a profession like weaving, the whole family gets engaged in the cottage industry. Their collective income is at its lowest ebb right now as the Covid-19 pandemic has shut orders from all corners for the weavers. Nobody would wish they turn to agriculture or get to the sea for fishing, as their skillful hands are trained into making fabrics that trace a culture and history.
After all, the weavers have been facing one storm after the other right from the times the powerloom threw the handloom weavers out of their jobs!
Take the Chettinad Cotton Saree weavers as an example, who five years ago won ‘India Handloom’ tag for their unique designs from the Union Ministry of Handlooms and Textiles, Mumbai, after passing through five rigorous quality tests to earn the branding. Right now, the weavers straight away require bulk orders to have their looms retained respectfully and come out with newer sarees for the festive season that begins soon with Varamahalakshmi.
To reiterate the priceless contribution of the handloom weavers of the South and garner support to the families and their trade, Madhurya Creations – supporting 1080 weaver families across India – is reaching out to people to place orders for Chettinad Cotton Sarees. It would be ‘charity with some shopping’ for anyone who wished to help weavers by placing orders.
Chettinad Cotton Sarees that are normally sold for Rs.1600+, are now being sold by the weavers for Rs. 890 (including delivery charges) which makes up for a 50% discount.
A point to note: As the weavers in villages are not accessible to pictures, WhatsApp etc, you will not be able to choose the colour of the saree but can only select the quantity. The weavers will send you sarees in a variety of colours. The sarees are available in vibrant tones, don’t run colour or shrink after wash.
A sample of the saris shown in the link attached gives you an idea of the type of saree you would receive, but the colour and combination cannot be specified for the very reason mentioned earlier.
Login to the link provided by Madhurya Creations and select the number of sarees you wish to buy and key in your address details. The sarees will be sent to you directly by the weavers.
Agnihotra is an ancient Indian ritual of creating a healing fire that cleanses the environment and brings about a transformation in the atmosphere. This tradition is centuries old and was performed by the people of the Indus valley civilization. The chants recited are from the ancient Indian scripture of Rigveda. Agnihotra is performed during sunset or sunrise while chanting these sacred mantras. A fire is lit in a copper pot in which rice and ghee are offered. The mantras chanted are quite essential and are related to the sun. These mantras which are chanted are Sooryáya Swáhá, Sooryáya Idam Na Mama Prajápataye Swáhá, and Prajápataye Idam Na Mama.
There are a few essential things that are required to perform this beautiful ancient ritual of agnihotra. These things are a pyramid-shaped copper pot, a copper dish, a copper fork, a copper spoon, cow dung, cow ghee, and rice. These ingredients are used to do agnihotra twice a day – sunrise and sunset.
There are numerous benefits of performing agnihotra ceremony. These include stress relief, mental clarity, improved health, environmental harmony, clean and purified environment. Well, these benefits may seem like a lot from such a simple and easy ritual but surprisingly this isn’t it. Performing agnihotra can have stunning effects on the health of a person. These benefits include purification of blood, improved respiratory system, and renewed brain cells. There have been many scientific studies in the past few years that have proved the benefits agnihotra has on various aspects of existence.
Another exciting thing that happens during agnihotra is the purification of any subtle pollution that can causes negativity in the environment. Our day to day dealings can cause a lot of stress to build up not just within us but also in the external environment. It is rightly said, each human being emits energies and is like a lit lamp. Our fights, negative thoughts, emotions, jealousy, anger, frustration, wrong deeds, and even harsh words cause massive changes in the environment around us. The changes are mostly in a negative way making the place heavy and suffocating. We all have had his feeling at least once, right? Doing agnihotra
Madhurai – A trip down the memory lane
Having spent most of my childhood in North India in the capital city, Delhi and nearby areas with frequent trips to homeland nested in Himalayas, I never imagined my first trip down south to be so mesmerizing! One of the recent places I visited was Madhurai. The name Madhurai is derived from the Sanskrit word “Madhurya” which means sweetness.
This place is synonymous with Meenakshi Amman temple situated on the banks of River Vaigai. It has a rich cultural heritage passed on from the great Tamil era more than 2500 years old. It used to be the commercial and cultural centre for the great Pandya kings.
According to the legend, the city got its name from the sweetness (Madhur) of nectar that was showered by the Hindu God Shiva from his matted hair when the city was built around this temple. The architecture of this city was built in accordance to the “Shilpa Shastras”, which are ancient texts about urban planning. The city architecture is built in the shape of lotus flower and its petals around the temple.
I was amazed to see a temple is of such grandeur and architecture for the first time in my life. As I approached the temple, I was mesmerized to see the huge entrance called “Gopuram” with intricately carved sculptures.
There are twelve Gopuras or soaring towers that rise from the granite base and are covered with figures of deites & mythical animals. These are painted in vivid colours. It was a breath taking sight to see them standing tall against the clear blue sky!
The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva known here as Sundaram and Goddess Parvati, known as Meenakshi. There are two separate sanctums inside for Meenakshi & Sundareshwarer that is surrounded by a number of shrines and a grand pillar hall which has thousand pillars. This temple is within a high enclosure which was built by the king to protect the idols from British invaders. Outside the sanctum is big pillar or Stambhas with yantras made in front of it. Devotees bow down in front of it before entering the temple.
I remember intricately carved sculptures of a mythological figure on each pillar – (with a Lion head and Bird Body called a Yalli) as I entered the Meenakshi sanctum. There were votive lamp holders on the walls and along the corridor which added to the palace like feel of the temple. Also there were spacious columned hall for shops & stores that were selling Puja Samagri / materials required for rituals and other paraphernalia like photos, small replicas of the statues, prasads, little lamps etc.
Next was the Sundareshwarer sanctum. As I walked passed along the meandering que, I saw a big, larger than life Nataraj statue on my right side covered in silver leaves, also called “Velli Ambalam” (Silver Hall) It also had statues of various priest and scenes depicted around the walls.
The reverence, faith, gratitude of people is what that struck me the most since the second I entered that holy place. This temple is the centre of the whole city which is also a gentle reminder of our higher purpose in lives. It felt so fortunate to be reminded that I am born in a country where Life revolves around divinity from time immemorial.
As I walked out of the temple feeling overwhelmed, the buzz outside the temple caught my eyes. The fragrance of white and fresh Mogra flowers filled my whole being, sight of fresh green and orange coconuts, street vendors selling imitation jewellery, fruits, flowers, toys, sacred threads in various colours – yellow, black and red, baskets filled with Chandan and Kumkum powder, containers full of coconut and jaggery sweets created an enticing and colouful atmosphere!
Walking by the lanes of Madhurai felt like a gentle reminder of the Golden era gone by.
As the name “Blue pottery” suggests, one can say that these are pots which are Blue in colour, however that is not all to it, there is a very interesting story about how this technique was developed and travelled to India and become a part of Indian craft. This technique was first developed by “Mongol Artisans.”, who combined the Chinese technique of Glazing with ornamental art of the Persian to make tiles; these tiles were used to decorate the structure like tombs, mosques and palaces in central Asia.
This technique travelled with the Mughals to India in the 14th century, where in early days Mughals used this technique only for structural ornamentation to imitate the structures in central Asia where they came from, later the technique was used in Kashmirian pottery, then it travelled to Delhi and finally it reached its destination in India that was the beautiful pink city of “Jaipur” in 17th century, which has been its home since then and now it is been recognized as the traditional craft of Jaipur. It’s ironic that the Art which was developed several thousand kilometers away from India has become a part of India’s great tradition and heritage, that is the beauty of our culture it blends with every culture it comes across and makes it as its own.
The craft derived its name from their eye catching blue colour and there are only four colours used in this technique blue, green, yellow and brown.
Its blue and green colour gives a cooling and soothing effect to one’s eyes, probably that is the reason why it was used to decorate the structures in the hot and arid central Asia. Motifs of Birds, Animals and flowers are used to decorate these beautiful blue coloured pots.
Traditionally only urns, jars, pots and vases were made using this art, however, these days even the tea sets, cups, saucers, plates, glasses and jugs are made using this art. A craftsman makes all these items using Egyptian paste, which is mixed with water to make non sticky dough. As the dough is a non sticky one, he can only use it to make small items, since large products break as the dough is pulled up.
Then he fills the dough in the mould made of plaster of Paris and once the dough is placed then the raakh (wooden ash) is filled in the mold. Later he removes product from the mould and allows it to dry in sun.
Then he does scrubbing, finishing, smoothening, designing and colouring of the items with hands and the final product so obtained are glazed with a glaze made from powder obtained by heating and grinding glass, Borex, Zinc oxide, potassium nitrate and boric acid. The craftsman mixes this powder with maida (flour) and water to make a paste.
He dips the items in this slurry and keeps them in sun to dry. Finally he burns them in the kiln at 800 to 850 degree Celsius. Since the temperature at which they are burnt is low they are very fragile and should be handled with love and care.
With all this hard work of the craftsman a beautiful piece of craft comes to life which is worth cherishing. These beautiful pieces of craft can be used to decorate homes or can be given as the gifts; it will not only add colour and beauty to one’s home, but, also spread the vibrations of peace with its calming and soothing colours.
Art is not to be questioned-
In science you question,
Art you enjoy!
–His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Our lifestyle is a reflection of our personality, whether it is the garments we wear, the jewellery we wear, the kind of a house we live in, whether we have a little garden and some plants, what kind of furniture we have, the colour of our house and so are the arts of India, a living expression, a part of our daily experience.
One dimension is the understanding of the technology of the mind that our rich cultural heritage includes. For example, in the past, every home in India had a grand entrance door. It was further beautified with creepers of mallige, complex and exuberant rangoli, bells and thorans. It is far from the minimalistic approach. There was so much Emphasis on beauty. Why? When a person comes to your home you really don’t know the state of his mind. Perhaps he is irritated with the traffic or disturbed with some worries. However, when he sees something of beauty, there is a shift in the consciousness from unpleasant to pleasant, from the past or future to the present moment. You can ensure to a great extent that the person who enters has a harmonious state of mind.
If our vision is broad and our roots are deep, the element of culture naturally reflects in our lifestyle. Remember the 100 year old saree of our grandmom that is used as a quilt for the new born in the cradle, it is no more a simple saree just used as a quilt but the love and blessings it carries makes it all the more beautiful and priceless. Or a reallllyyyyyyy old Tanjore painting that our great grandfathers and probably their great grandfathers used for their pooja, if you have one of those, this piece of art would take you back in time and make you feel so connected to the love that has passed on through the generations.
These little things are a constant reminder of the rich heritage that is a part of our country. But somehow or the other , we don’t know what influence or reason that got in the changes, things so common in the olden days are not available these days. For instance, every home has the Fisher-Price ‘Rock-a-stack’ (a ring stacking toy) and that same in the Channapatna wood is an uncommon craft. What is happening? If you see the big big houses, the beautiful houses of people who are well off get their interiors done in the modern style little unaware of the fact that the hearts of the people staying inside are that of Radha-Krishna. Ofcourse the fittings, the hinges can be made modern but the style of our homes should reflect our broad vision, our roots.
India has a very prosperous, diversified heritage. Through the centuries, the brilliance and inborn skill of our artists have guided the Indian aesthetic in every day life. We have been flawless with our art, craft and architecture. Our masterpieces resonate so much with life and faith. Every single dimension has a meaning, every incarnation sparkles with naturalness. And it is so very important to bring about an awareness of all these between us and the coming generations. Even if one of this rich art is lost, it is such a great loss to the beauty , to the creation.
So, to revive our tradition which is our real wealth and make these uncommon crafts our way of life is Madhurya’s vision. Adapting it and making it available and affordable are key challenges that our young designers have taken up so that the phenomenal benefits of our ancient techniques for healthy living can be brought to the forefront again.
The Magic of Kanchipuram Silk Sarees
Kanchipuram Sarees for the Beautiful Women
The famous Kanchipuram silk saree is a traditionally a handwoven saree made out of mulberry silk, made in the bylanes of the town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, India. Kanchipuram has magnificent temples featured by distinct architecture and is also known as the ‘City of thousand temples’. Historically, the origin of the Kanchipuram Silk can be traced back to around 400 years during the reign of King Krishna Deva- Raya of the Chola Dynasty, when two major weaving communities of Andhra Pradesh- the Devangas and the Saligars, migrated to this town. The rich temple culture and the use and practice of wearing silk in rituals, weddings and ceremonies in this quaint old town is said to be the reason why the weaver communities settled here. These two weaving communities were, and still are, exclusively acknowledged worldwide for their skills at weaving silk.
Kanchipuram Silk Sarees are popularly referred to as the ‘Queen of Saris’ because of their lustre, durability, and glimmer from the exquisite zari work. Worn across all ages for all kinds of functions and ceremonies, they form a much desired part of an Indian Bride’s trousseau and are often passed down generations. Usually, the quality of the sari is graded based on how heavy the sari is. The heavier the sari, the better the quality. This sari is best described as a lustrous silk sari with zari work. Zari is metallic thread usually made from gold or silver and interwoven with the silk to create various motifs. Traditionally, motifs for Kanchipuram Sari are heavily drawn from the style and architecture of the Pallava Dynasty- their temples, palaces and paintings. However, nowadays, even scenes from great Indian Epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata can be seen. With passage of time, one can also see use of tribal and contemporary motifs. Some common and favourite traditional motifs are – jasmine bud within a square or a round frame, locally known as mallimaggu, or Thandavalam where parallel lines run across the body of the Sari.
Making of a Kanchipuram Silk Sari
The carefully processed and prepared mulberry silk thread in the chosen color is selected for the Sari. The silk used in Kancheevaram sari is is of the finest quality, one that is not cut or broken. Moreover, the silk yarn is a “double warp”, i.e., each “thread” is actually made up of three single threads twisted together which makes it more durable and heavier than other silk saris. The interesting thing about Kanchipuram Sari is that the weaver first creates the border, body and the pallu of the sari separately and then interlocks them tightly to create one piece. A weaving technique known as ‘korvai’ is followed where the exquisite border and pallu of the sari are a different color than main body of the sari. Atleast two workers are required to make a Kanchipuram following the techniques of hree-shuttle weaving and interlocking weft. A simple Kanchipuram sari can take upto 10-12 days and a more decorative one can take around 20 days to prepare. The cost of the sari also depends on the amount of zari interwoven into the sari. More Zari means more expensive the sari. Dry cleaning is always the preferred method for maintaining a good silk sari.
The art of weaving an authentic Kanchipuran Silk Sari has been has been passed down as an inheritance from the very first weavers handpicked by King Rajaraja Chola to weave these Saris, down to the present generation of weavers operating the 20,000 odd number of handlooms in the Kanchi district. Since 2005, Kanchipuram Silk has been granted a GI (Geographical Indication) status for its protection. Thus, for an authentic Kanchipuram silk made in Kanchi district of Tamil Nadu, India one must look for the GI label certifying the origin of the Sari.
Draping and Accessorizing
A Kanchipuram Silk Sari was traditionally a 9 yard sari that represented the culture of designing and patterning temple stories. Over a period of time, these sarees were converted to 6 yards with gold zari weaving which can be draped in the normal way. One must start with the end of the sari opposite to the bright coloured Pallu and start wrapping the sari around around the waist. The pleats of the sari are positioned along the left leg and the rest of the sari is taken over the left shoulder, wrapped once again round the waist and tucked on the left side.
The lustre of Kanchipuram Silk can be enhanced and accentuated by beautiful gold jewellery of your choice. Temple jewellery and matching motifs can also be used.
A Kanchipurn silk is definitely the ‘Queen of silks’ and possession of such a silk, which has been traditionally bequeathed down generations of women in a family, is indeed a very desirable addition to anyone’s closet.
Technique of Making Moonj Basket
The village Naini in Allahabad is the major producer of Moonj-wild grass products. Moonj and Kaasa are the types of wild grass that richly grow near the banks of the river in and around vast areas of Allahabad. Allahabad, Gorakhpur and Behraich in Uttar Pradesh are the major centers for moonj crafts. The manufacturing process involve, simple techniques that are skillfully done using natural grass and basic tools.
Moonj Basket and It’s Importance
The grass is first dyed to a specific color. (Kaccha rang) Raw colors are used to dye the grass. The water is boiled at a high temperature in aluminum container and the colour powder is added to it. The dried off-white Moonj grass is immersed in the boiling solution to absorb the colour. The grass is removed once it attains color and allowed to dry under shade. The dyed grass is mainly used to create and highlight the motif patterns. Red and green are the two main dominating colours used.
The making process is time consuming. Dried Moonj grass is made into small knots which are called ‘Balla’. This Balla is soaked in cold water for some time before coiling to ensure flexibility. The grass Kaasa is used for inside stuffing, wherein Moonj is used to wrap around Kaasa grass to make coil. The formed coil is winded in a series to make the base of basket. Once the base is formed, the walls of the basket are made using the same technique. These coils are stitched together to make the basket strong. The handles then are stitched with the grass.
History of Tanjore Paintings
History of Tanjore Paintings:
Tanjore painting is an art in Tamil Nadu, it is flourished from a town Thanjavur anglicized as Tanjore in Tamil Nadu known for its art and holds unique history in culture of south India. Classical Tanjore paintings, came into being in late 16th century. The art mainly classical music and dance drew a lot of attention back in 1600 AD during the times of Vijayanagara Rayas. The Maratha rule of Tanjore lasted for about 2 centuries from the late 16th century after the Vijayanagara Rayas and during this time these paintings gained popularity. The early paintings were embellished with real Diamonds and other precious stones, Semi precious and artificial stones gained popularity only in later periods.
Check out a Blog on Style of Krishna Tanjore Paintings.
Style and Technique:
The paintings chiefly depicts Hindu deities & saints, lord Krishna being the chief subject. Episodes from Hindu scriptures like puranas and other religious texts were also painted with the main figure placed in the central section of the picture. Other religions like Jain, Sikh, Muslim, other religious and even secular subjects prevalent across India were also depicted beautifully in Tanjore paintings. Tanjore paintings are made on wood and cloth canvas, in addition to being done on canvas, they also done on walls, wooden panel, glass, paper, mica and exotic media such as ivory. Small Ivory portraits were typically worn as cameo pendants called rajaharam and were quite popular. These paintings come in three finishes classic, embossed, and unique. Classic finish is Bright and has sharp colors in high glitter gold foil.. Antique finish has more subtle colors and less brighter glitter of gold.
Would Tanjore Painting suit my space ?
Tanjore paintings are characterized by rich, flat and vivid colors, simple iconic composition, glittering gold foils overlaid on delicate gesso work and inlay of glass beads and pieces along with precious and semi-precious stones which extensively adds to its beauty and grandeur. Not only the look and feel of the painting is beyond marvel, but the precious and semi-precious gems used in the paintings are said to bring positive energy to house or work place. They are said to enhance life force and vitality of the surrounding. They can be a source of vibrations needed for your work. The painting are kept well protected from termites by enclosing it in a well-designed frame. High quality 22-carat gold foil and gold milk is used to ensure that it lasts for generations.
Each color is believed to represent one of the five elements and radiates some form of energy. For instance gold adds richness and warmth to everything with which it is associated – it illuminates and enhances other things around it. Hence we at Madhurya also make customized Tanjore paintings as per your wish to suit your color requirements.
Tanjore Painting is perfect for Gifting:
Tanjore paintings have become one of the most sought out item in galleries of India and abroad and is definitely worth gifting one to your close ones. Such gifts are always highly appreciated for it would last for generations. It would undoubtedly increase the beauty of a house.
Which kind of Tanjore Painting do you like?