First published in India in 2019 by: Bharti Vidyapeeth College ofArchitecture, Navi Mumbai.
Editors: Renuka Kuber Wazalwar, Trupti Kamat
design: The People Place Project
bound at: JAK Printers
Songs of soil
India is fortunate to have a rich and complex civilisation that dates to five to ten thousand years and beyond. The rich geographical diversity of Indian sub-continent attracted migrants as well as invaders from many nations and civilisations. It has given the country a vast legacy of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the form of plethora of handicraft and folk-art, diverse and different in each of its states.
Architecture, being the art or practice of designing and constructing buildings, has close relationship with handicraft and folk-arts. It is evident right from the handwork on Taj Mahal to the terracotta temples of West Bengal or Dravidian temple sculptures or palaces and forts in Rajasthan.
The best part of Indian handicraft and folk-art is, these still have aesthetic appeal and design value in the context of modern and contemporary architectural work.
“The Bauhaus strives to bring together all creative effort into one whole, to reunify all the disciplines of practical art - sculpture, painting, handicrafts, and crafts - as inseparable components of a new architecture.”
- Walter Gropius, German Architect
At Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Architecture (BVCOA), Navi Mumbai, the Management, Principal Mrs Ritu Deshmukh and her faculty understand this. They also know the importance of passing of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, as coined by the UNESCO, of which handicraft and folk-art are a big part, to their students. BVCOA believes its students, the new and future-forward generations of architects, need to know about these handicrafts and folk-arts not only by its manufacturing techniques, but also the history, traditions and beliefs behind them - for two reasons. One, it inculcates a sense of national identity and pride in them, which is very important for their self-esteem and confidence. Two, when they learn about Indian handicrafts and folk-art in-depth, they also learn to appreciate the potential these things have for architectural use. It encourages them to incorporate these handicrafts and folk-arts as architecture professionals. By doing so, they would help to preserve, promote and nurture the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India all over the world. Thus, they would also help generate domestic income and foreign revenue for the nation, employment and business for the artisans and allied sectors such as raw material supplier, manufacturing of tools and equipment, stationery, dye and pigments, and art material, textile, handloom, packaging, logistics and so on, directly as well as indirectly.
Handicraft is very important for India’s decentralised, rural and semi-urban economy as 23 million plus people still depend on it for livelihood. It binds the socio-economic fabric of India to its roots. Hence, Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Architecture in collaboration with Mitti profess knowledge about Indian Handicraft and Folk-Art for a comprehensive education in Architecture.
Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Architecture has been conducting handicraft and folk art workshops for the past five years. It is a 4 to 5 days long residential workshop where the college provides a platform to the artists to interact with our students. The students get an opportunity to learn the folk art and crafts of their choice first hand from the master crafts persons. In the process, students interact with the crafts persons and exchange their design ideas, stories with each other.
The idea behind this is to make students learn the traditional techniques and designs from the artisans, add their own imaginations and come up with the modern and unique designs in respective art forms., thus celebrating our heritage and unleashing their creativity in their own way.
The students have worked on brick and charcoal furnaces while learning lost wax casting to make Dokra artefacts; they have worked on the loom under the expert guidance of the master weaver to weave successfully a piece of cloth; they participated in the process of making and drying the masks out of tamarind seed paste and saw dust; they worked with hammer and tong beating hot iron pieces and carving various shapes out of them; they worked on the pottery wheel and created beautiful panels with mud work or Lippan Kaam; they chiselled figures and carved designs out of wood; they also took up brushes and colours and came out with lively and vibrant folk paintings depicting rural lifestyle or folklores.