Aipan Craft of Uttarakhand

Posted by samaun The Himalayan Treasure on

The beautiful state of Uttarakhand is also home to some of the finest traditional arts and crafts of the country. The fascinating valleys and meadows of this state undoubtedly stimulates the artistic instincts in its inhabitants which is best expressed in the numerous art forms such as music, dance, handicrafts, wood carving etc. In today’s post we are going to talk about the Aipan craft- an art form which is extensively used in the Kumaon district.

The lovely ladies of Kumaon had always an important role to play in the preservation of the traditional folk art of the state. Aipan is a kind of painting depicting nature and figures of gods and goddesses. Invariably done by the womenfolk of Kumaon, Aipan craft comes in a number of styles. Aipan can be described as a more traditional form of ‘rangoli’ which is often used to decorate the walls and floors of the houses during ceremonies.

A different painting is assigned to different parts of the household.  For example, the floor paintings usually consist of ritualistic figures, while the walls of the kitchen are decorated with animal motifs. The worship room is decorated with a form of Aipan depicting certain tantric motifs known as Peeth and the doors of the house are painted with specific symbols which are supposed to usher in good omen. 

The painting is done with a special material made out of rice paste combined with ochre. The altar of the deities are often painted with motifs of moon, sun, conch shells, bells and other motifs associated with worship. An integral part of the decoration of Kumaoni houses, Aipan designs are also done in times of special ceremonies such as marriage, thread ceremony, birth ceremony and even as a part of funeral rites.

The painting is done by using the three last fingers of the hand. The chowkies or wooden altars are carefully painted with special designs meant of every occasion. Although traditionally the painting was done by using natural dyes, these days one can often find the use of oil paints and poster colour to make the effect more long-lasting.

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