Rajwar Clay Art
A form of decorative relief clay art, Rajwar clay art originated in the Puhputra village in Chhattisgarh and was popularised by Sonabai Rajwar. Created primarily with bamboo and clay, the art form showcases several geometric shapes and motifs inspired by nature and is practised within homes by women who use it to adorn walls and doors.
Traditionally, Rajwar clay art has three aspects — lepai, jhinjhari kala (jaali work) and pakha lekha (relief work). The Rajwars, also the eponymous name of the farming community among whom this art form is popular and practised, celebrate the post-harvest festival of Chhetra where the women paint homes and other items of daily use such as detha (niches), patani (shelves) and dodki (rice storage jars) with lepai, a mixture of clay and cow dung. Similarly for jhinijari kala, varying thicknesses of bamboo strips are used to create a lattice frame, on which a layer of pooval (paddy hay) is applied along with clay and left to dry. It is cut into thin strips and bent into different shapes that are attached to wooden frames that hold the clay relief. This structure becomes a part of the architecture of the clay relief work. This base may be painted white with white lime paste or white clay, known as choohi, upon which clay relief motifs and designs are created. Figurines may be created separately out of clay and added to the base. The most commonly used colours are deep black, ochre and white, and are extracted from natural elements.
The art form is still actively practised and is not just relegated to women alone. Daroga Ram and Bhagat Ram have been recognised as foremost practitioners of Rajwar clay art along with Parbatibai.
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