Saved from near-extinction, a forgotten art makes a slow recovery

Saved from near-extinction, a forgotten art makes a slow recovery

Submitted by alvin on Sun, 2016-09-25 09:20 Bengaluru: "I was aware of Channapatna toy art, but Kinnala art has left me speechless,” says Sachin HV, a Bachelor of Fine Arts student from Davangere, who has come to the city to attend the workshop and exhibition on Kinnala art organised by the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat and Department of Higher Education at the Chitrakala Parishat.A famed art form, Kinnala art, popular in the North Karnataka region, includes toy-making, paintings and other wooden handicrafts. The art form was held in high regard during Vijayanagar Empire. But, unfortunately, it went into a decline. Today, Kinnala art continues to flourish only in Kinnala, a village in Koppal District. But things are looking-up for the Kinnala artisans as the state handicraft council is promoting it. According to Somanna V Chirtagar, grandson of Kinnnala artist Krishnappa V Chirtagar, and the first winner of the state award under handicraft for Kinnala art in 1965, artisans faced an uncertain future before the government intervened. "We used to see good business during Dasara, Gowri Ganesha, and Krishna Janmashtami festival, but after that business would slump. Later, the Handicraft Council identified artists and started to promote them through art exhibitions and emporiums," says Somanna, who retired as Assistant Director, Bengaluru Fine Arts School.To do something for his community of Chitragars, who fall under backward category (1), Somanna approached the Chirtra Kala Parishat to hold art expo-cum-workshop of Kinnala art. Bhagamma Chirgar, who is in her 60s, says she learnt the art from her parents and has passed on the art to her only son. “There is a growing interest from students and people in Bengaluru,” says Bhagamma, who has been in the city for the past 7 days for the workshop. “This art form would have vanished if the state government and handicraft council had not stepped in. Now, people who are aged 60 in the community get Rs1,500 as monthly allowance. The Cauvery Emporium and the council have built about 60 houses for the community. The toys and paintings are ordered regularly from Bengaluru and Mysuru.”Annappa Chitragar who has been crafting toys for the past 20 years, attributes the wooden statues of Shiva and Parvati at the Virupaksha temple and the intricate work on the chariot at Hampi to the skills of ancestors of Kinnala artisans. The signature of Kinnala art is stucco work, used as decorative coating for walls and ceilings and as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture. What goes into making of Kinnala artWood from drumstick tree and cotton plant for chiselling, liquid and paste of tamarind seed for sticking wood powder are the basic materials. Brushes made of squirrel’s hair are used for delicate painting. The artisans also specialise in making small and big ornamental boxes, stools, low planks (chowkis), god-stands (peetha) and cradles. And amythology remains the source material for the art.