DC Travel Diaries – The magic of Sikki craft weaved with Golden Grass

Creativity is more than just being different.Anybody can play weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple awesomely simple,that’s creativity.” 

– Charles Mingus

This quote is incredibly justifying the tough grind pulled off by our artisans and craftsmen, who put their meraki in everything they do, with a bright outlook (where they see the handmade space of India rising at a phenomenal pace) in their minds.

Sheltering yourself in a comfort zone and opening brag books saying how the handmade sector of India has claimed its position in the creative edge of the world is completely worthless until you step out of your shell to witness the matchless creations of our artists.

Direct Create, brings all what a veteran or an aspiring Indian artisan may look for, in order to make himself believe that the art marvels he shaped toiling day and night will be showered with the appreciation they deserve. From unfolding the interesting tales that resides within each handmade product and framing a story around it, to showcasing those products on its site and helping niche artisans in gaining wide recognition, it has left no stone un turned.

Here is my experience from one such travel expedition to the villages in Bihar.

Bihar , an Indian state which is widely recognized as the center of trade and culture and the epicenter of knowledge had also got its art acknowledged across the globe. From the eye of an avid traveler and an art lover Bihar is a must visit destination. I headed towards Bihar to explore a craft which has been existing since hundreds of years ; the SIKKI CRAFT.

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In a small time span of two days , I  had a walk through the lives of some of the greatest art ninjas in Mithila( Madhubani district) who weave magic through golden grass to create Sikki amaze-balls.

From the early centuries, they have been making beautiful Sikki Craft apart from the very famous Mithila Painting, Godna Painting,Paper Mache,Sujani Embroidery,Applique works etc.

Sikki, also called the golden grass of Bihar has been used to fuel the creative instincts of artists across the district of Madhubani. Besides Mahubani there are two other production clusters of Sikki – Dharbhanga District and Muzaffarpur District .The villages there have exciting success stories that highlight the scalability of this craft and how it can be utilized as a low cost income generation in these remote areas.

Sikki is a long-stemmed grass with a delicate and natural golden color growing in abundance during the rainy seasons in the wastelands of Mithila. The grass is dyed in red,black,blue,green and yellow. The dye is made out of leaves and flowers.The Sikki artisans buy the grass from the local market, at the price of Rs.300.

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Women weaving mat through Sikki Grass

The Sikki, which is characterized by its wonderful golden hue, is also colored into myriad shades to make the products look more prominent and attractive. The deities that are fashioned are depicted with their own special colors in two-dimensional images. The colors most popular under this craft are purple, deep blue, bright yellow, magenta pink, green, and red. All of these are combined with the natural golden color to make the final product a beautiful paragon of colors.

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Sikki Grass in multiple hues

The technique used for making products from Sikki is the ancient and time honored coiling method. Interestingly the actual form is shaped with munj, raffia grass, or khar, which is much cheaper and more abundantly available. This provides the basic shape and gives additional strength to the product. The munj is completely coiled over and covered with Sikki”;” it is not visible through the encasing. The only tool used by the women is a 6 inch long needle-shaped iron object called takua with a rounded head, made of lac, which is used to grip the needle while coiling the grass. The object being made is held firmly while the right hand is completely free to wield the takua. No threads or cords or any other materials are used.

Figures of deities are made for worship, as votive offerings for festivals. Sailesh Pooja, the only festival of the Moosahar tribe, involves a wide range of colorful Sikki products of ritual use.

The products made from Sikki are utilitarian as well as ornamental and often have a religious significance.

Utilitarian Objects  – Pots, Bowls,Platters, Boxes, Cases and Baskets. Table Mats, Coasters and Hand Fans.

 

Decorative Objects – Mobile & toys are made for the children, while the women make bangles for themselves.

Ritualistic Objects– Figures of deities are crafted for religious festivals. Each item is not only colorful but also individual.

SIKKI DOLLS

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Ardhanareeshwara, a representation of the half-made and half-female form of Shiva
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A figurine of the legendary hero, Raja Sailesh
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Ganesha Figurine

 

Colors are used in dramatic contrast and each product reflects the creative impulse of its maker. Two-dimensional images of birds and animals, trees, and figures are also beautifully crafted.

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Sikki Buddha Leaf

The craft of Sikki weaving has its roots in traditional beliefs of the Indian value system, yet it is a perfect example of sustainability.

From the warmth of the people, to the taste of the food; from the adventure of travel to the colorful festivals; from the flowing, feminine clothes to the sunny skies- the single most compelling reason, that persuaded me to travel to places and walk in the shoes of the struggling artists was the strong reverence for the vivid histories and heritage of India.

Be it the sustenance promoting Sikki craft or the stunning canvases which manages to accomplish a beautiful unison of the Indian traditions, every form of art brings with itself the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination.

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