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Virtual Museum  and  Documentary  on   ‘Woodcraft  in  Karnataka’     Richa  Sehgal   National  Institute  of  Design  |  richa.nid@gmail.com       Keywords:  Woodcraft,  Karnataka,  Virtual  Museum,  Documentary,  Kinhal,   Lacquer  ware,  Hardwood,  RDTDC  (Regional  Design  Technical  Development   Centre),  Woodcraft  Artist     The  emphasis  of  the  paper  is  to  inform  about  the  three  major  art  forms  of   woodcraft  prevalent  in  Karnataka  i.e.  Kinhal,  Lacquer  ware  and  Hardwood   through  the  use  of  primary  research  and  other  methods.  The  result  was  in   the  form  of  an  Interactive  Media  Project  and  a  Documentary  on  “  Woodcraft   in  Karnataka’.     Introduction     Woodcraft  is  a  type  of  art  technique  that  uses  wood  as  a  medium  to  produce   decorative  and  functional  or  utilitarian  products,  which  take  beautiful  art  forms   by  the  dexterous  handling  of  wood  by  artists  and  craftsmen.       In  Karnataka  the  references  of  woodcraft  are  found  from  1500  A.D.  Due  to  the   initiatives  taken  by  descendants  of  communities  who  still  earn  their  living  by   practicing  these  art  forms  and  the  involvement  of  government  bodies  like   RDTDC  (Regional  Design  Technical  Development  Centers),  the  art  still  continues   to  thrive.     This  paper  describes  the  research  conducted  to  collect  information  about  the   Woodcraft  of  Karnataka  and  the  presentation  techniques  used  to  showcase  this   information  to  the  intended  audience  of  art  lovers,  historians,  research  people,   ethnographers,  NGOs  and  students.     Methodology     Visual  Ethnography  as  a  Research  Method:  Visual  Ethnography  means  the   scientific  description  of  the  customs  of  individual  peoples  and  cultures  through   the  use  of  photographs  and  videos.  The  field  visits  to  RDTDC  was  conducted  to   interview  the  artists  and  analyze  the  woodcraft  art  forms:  Kinhal,  Lacquer  ware   and  Hardwood  that  are  practiced  by  them.  Also,  the  native  village   (Nagadevenhalli)  of  artist  (Mr.  Ramamurthy)  was  visited  in  order  to  understand   the  woodcraft  workshop  as  well  as  the  social  and  economic  setup  under  which   the  artist  along  with  other  craftsmen  work.  Data  Collection  was  done  in  the  form   of  pictures,  videos  and  interviews.  Each  picture  was  given  a  suitable  caption  to   describe  itself.  The  process  took  1  week,  which  included  Lecture  on  Introduction   to  Visual  Ethnography;  Study  of  Photography  Principles  and  Techniques  to  


capture best  photographs,  and  field  visits  to  actually  gather  the  data  using  the   above  techniques.     Information  Structuring:  The  collected  data  was  analyzed,  brainstormed  and   structured  into  a  meaningful  format.  An  attempt  was  made  to  create  visual  info   graphics  to  explain  the  data.  Some  of  the  more  successful  attempts  were  later   utilized  in  the  presentation  of  the  information  for  the  target  audience.  The   process  began  with  studying  the  ways  of  representing  information  and  then   finally  making  various  info  graphics  and  took  1-­‐week  time.     Prototyping  of  Interactive  Media  Project  (Virtual  Museum)  and  Documentary:     The  interactive  media  project  involved  creating  a  structure  for  the  proposed   virtual  museum  in  the  form  of  identification  of  various  pages  and  their   interlinking.  Rough  Layouts  were  then  prepared  for  each  of  the  pages  to  enable   discussion.  Once  the  Layouts  were  good  enough  for  the  target  audience   experimentation  was  done  with  various  color  schemes  and  design  styles  for  the   virtual  museum.  The  final  layout  pages  were  then  created  in  the  design  scheme,   which  was  best  suited.  The  layout  pages  were  interlinked  to  create  a  working   prototype  of  the  final  museum  interactions  (in  Axure  RP  Pro).   Parallel  to  this,  the  documentary  movie  started  with  story  writing  based  on   which  the  script  was  prepared  followed  by  story  boarding.  Images  and  video   content  was  scanned,  shortlisted  according  to  the  storyboard,  some  graphics   stills  were  made  using  chalkboard;  voice  recording  was  done  in  the  AV  Lab   video.  Finally,  mixing  was  done  using  proper  tools  (Adobe  SoundBooth,  Adobe   Premier  Pro).  The  duration  of  the  process  was  5  weeks.       History  of  Woodcraft     The  Kinhal  Craft  flourished  in  1500   A.D  due  to  the  patronage  of  the   Vijayanagara  ruler  Krishnadevrai  in   whose  reign  many  of  the  fine  arts   reached  their  aesthetic  zenith.  The   intricate  wood  art  seen  at  Hampi  is   the  work  of  the  ancestors  of  the   Chitragars(  Kinhal  Artists)  of  today.                                                                                                                                                            Kinhal  Woodcraft  in  1500  A.D       Kinhal  Woodcraft  in  1646  A.D     After   the   fall   of   the   empire,   the   craft   received   support   from   the   Nawab   of   Koppal,   Desais   of   Kinhal   and   more   importantly,   Nawab   SalarJung   of   Hyderabad,   who   also   patronized   the   lacquered   woodcraft.   The   interface  


between these   forms   and   the   common   patronage   led   to   a   amalgam   of   Hindu   and   Islamic  art  forms  that  is  a  signature  feature  of  the  Kinhal  craft.   After   decline   of   royal   patronage,   the   craft   teetered   but   with   the   efficient   and   sustained  efforts  of  Smt.  Kamala  Devi  Chattopadhyaya  the  craft  survived.     Wooden  Inlays  &  Wood  carving  dates  back   to  18th  century.  It  received  patronage  from   Tipu  Sultan  and  Wodeyar  rulers  who  had   shifted  their  capital  to  Mysore.  It  received   impetus  from  commissioning  items  like   musical  instruments,  doors  and  furniture   for  the  Mysore  palace.    Due  to  widespread   plantation  of  sandalwood  in  north   Karnataka,  the  art  has  taken  roots  in  those   parts.                                                                                                                                                                              Hardwood  Woodcraft  in  1800  A.D.       As  early  as  1892,  hereditary  artists  called   “Chitragars”  were  involved  in  wood-­‐turnery,   which  is  the  basis  of  lacquerware  artistry.       Bavasmia,  a  local  artist,  is  known  as  the   initiator  of  the  craft  in  Channapatna  and   nearby  areas.  He  went  to  study  lacquerware   in  Punjab.    After  some  time  of   experimentation,  he  started  teaching  craft  at   the  Industrial  School  in  Channapatna.  He  also    Mechanized  the  craft  through  the  power     Laquerware  Woodcraft  in  1892  A.D.     lathe.  He  introduced  lac  craft  to  encourage  the  Chitragars  but  their  response  was   hesitant,  so  admission  was  opened  to  students  of  other  castes  and  religions  as   well.  He  also  influenced  Muslims  and  scheduled  caste  members  to  join  the   course;  even  today,  the  majority  of  Channapatna  craftspeople  belong  to  these   communities.     Scenario  of  Woodcraft  in  2010  A.D     To  promote  and  spread  the  woodcraft  all     over  the  country,  the  Office  of  Commissioner   (Handicrafts)  has  opened  four  regional   training  centers  in  Delhi,  Calcutta,  Bangalore   and  Bombay  headed  by  Deputy  Director  and   employs  a  number  of  highly  skilled   craftsmen,  qualified  designers  &  technical   staff.  They  are  concerned  with  the  task  of   conducting  analysis  on  history  while  mixing   imagination  with  tradition  to  restyle  the  existing  patterns.  They  develop  new  


prototypes and  distribute  them  among  village  clusters  and  maintain  contact  with   craftsmen,  manufactures  &  marketing  agencies  providing  them  with  blueprint   drawings  and  prototypes  for  commercial  reproduction.     Designers  &  technical  staff  are  deployed  at  the  craftsmen  workshops  in  remote   areas  to  solve  their  problems.  They  organize  exhibition  and  workshops  to   demonstrate  new  designs,  techniques  and  methods  of  production  of  woodcraft       Types  of  Woodcraft     Kinhal  Woodcraft     Origin:  It  is  the  craft  belonging  to  the  Koppal  district  of  Karnataka     Artisan  Cluster:  Chitragaras  (one  who  draws  and  paints)  of  Koppal  district     Tools:  Chisel,  gauges  and  snappers.  Handsaws  and  axes         Materials:  Lightweight  wood  like  drumsticks,  Polki,  Hale,  Tamarind  seeds,   Pebbles,  Kitta,  Poster  colors       Process:   • Drawing  Blueprint  to  scale-­‐  Plans,  Sections,  Elevations  &  3d  View   • Joinery-­‐  Paste  of  Tamarind  seeds  &  Pebbles   • Embossing-­‐  Paste  of  Pebble  powder  and  Liquid  Gum   • Base  for  Paint-­‐  Kitta  (Paste  of  Jute  rags,  soaked,  slivered  into  pieces,  dried,   powdered,  and  mixed  with  saw  dust  and  tamarind  seed  paste,  small   pieces  of  cotton  are  stuck  on  it  with  the  tamarind  paste.  Over  it  is  applied   the  pebble  paste.   • Coloring-­‐  Poster  colors  esp.  Gold  and  Silver   to  give  a  metallic  effect     Finished  Item  Categories:   • Idols  that  depict  characters  from  Hindu   mythology   • Palkis–  both  cradles  for  children  as  well  as   for  religious  processions.   • Chowkies,  or  stools,  used  to  eat  off,  or  to   place  idols  on.   • Birds  and  Animals  shaped  toys  as  well  as   decorative  pieces.   • Toys  –  rough  figurines  of  women  and   children,  figures  engaged  in  day-­‐to-­‐day   activities.   • Wall  pieces  –  picture  frames,  mirror   frames,  decorative  plaques.   • Jewelry  Boxes    


Lacquer ware  Woodcraft     Origin:  A  traditional  handicraft  practiced  in  and  around  the  town  of   Channapatna.       Artisan  Cluster:  Bavasmia  and  Chitragaras  of  Channapatna     Tools:    Chisel,  Saw,  Hand  and  Power  Lathe,  Screw  Pine  Leaves     Materials:  Solid  Lac,  Soft  wood  of  the  hale  tree  (Wrightia  tinctoria),  Screw  Pine   Leave  (Talegiri),  Sandpaper  and  Poster  and  Enamel  Paints  for  artwork     Process:     • Drawing  Blueprint  to  scale-­‐  Plans,  Sections,  Elevations  &  3d  View   • Preparation  of  colored  Lac  by  heating  and  natural  pigments   • Turning  and  Shaping  of  Wood-­‐  By  the  dexterous  use  of  hand  or  power   lathes  and  suitable  cutting  tools.   • Lacquering-­‐  The  turned  wood  is  lacquered  in  a  dry  state  by  means  of   frictional  heat.  Painted  lac  deposits  itself  on  the  turned  wood  and  gives  it   a  bright  and  colorful  appearance.   • Finishing-­‐  The  lacquered  piece  is  buffed   with  the  leaves  of  the  talegiri  (Pandanus   odoratissimus).  Sometimes,  delicate  artwork   is  applied  over  the  lacquer   • Artwork-­‐  Sometimes,  delicate  artwork  is   applied  over  the  lacquer.     Finished  Item  Categories:   • Jewelry  such  as  bangles,  necklaces  and   earrings   • Toys  such  as  spinning  tops,  dolls  depicting   characters  from  Hindu  mythology   &  dolls  in  costumes  of  various  countries   around  the  world   • Decorative  pieces,  &  Household  utility   articles  such  as  flower  vases,  bowls,  salt  &   pepper  shakers,  napkin  rings,  wall-­‐panels,   pin  cushions,  pen  holders,  paper  weights.         Hardwood  Woodcraft     Origin:  Mysore,  Uttar  Kannada,  Ulsoor  &  Udipi  region  of  Karnataka     Artisan  Cluster:  Gudikars  of  Mysore  region,  Utttar  Kannada  &  Udipi  Region   &  Craftsmen  of  Ulsoor  region  who  migrated  from  Andhra    


Tools:  Chana-­‐Chisel,  Fret  Saw,  Lathe,  Fine  Carving  Tools,  Punches,  Hammers,   Hand  Bow,  Hand  Drill,  Divider,  Scale,  Jigsaw,  Hacksaw,  Heavy  Machines,   Sandpaper,  Flat  chisels.     Materials:  Sandalwood,  Rosewood,  Teakwood,  and  Turpentine  &  Wax  Polish       Process:   • Drawing  Blueprint  to  scale-­‐  Plans,  Sections,  Elevations  &  3d  View   • Seasoning  of  Wood     • Cutting  of  wood  to  required   size   • Drawings  pasted  on  wood   • Rough  Cutting  with  flat  chisel   and  carving  with  carving  Tools   • Smoothening-­‐  filing  with   sandpaper     • Inlays-­‐  Shapes  cut  in  Colored   wood,  Ivory  ,Bone  or  Plastic   are  embedded  and  glued  into   recessed  forms.       Finished  Item  Categories:   • Sandalwood  and  Flower   Garlands   • Idols   • Jewelry  Box   • Rosewood  Inlays   • Animal  &  HumanFigurines   • Mantapa  Shrines   • Door  Carvings       Interactive  Media  Project   Interactive  Media  Project  is  designed  so  that  the  target  audience  can  experience   the  woodcraft:  Kinhal,  Lacquer  ware  and  Hardwood  in  the  form  of  Virtual   Museum  and  can  read  about  the  origin,  historical  evolution  and  material,  tools   and  process  of  each  type  of  woodcraft.     The  home  page  of  the  prototype  allows  the  user  to  choose  one  of  the  three  types   of  woodcraft  to  view  the  further  information.              


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    Materials  &  Tools  and  Process                           Documentary           Documentary     Documentary  is  in  the  form  of  a  7  minute  short  movie  which  is  focused  on  the   woodcraft  artist  Mr.  Rammurthy  who  is  a  descendent  of  Vishwakarma  family   and  has  worked  for  years  in  RDTDC.   The  documentary  takes  us  to  the  workshop  of  Rammurthy  where  the  work  is   going  on  and  the  process  of  creating  artwork  is  explained  in  detail.  Then  his   masterpiece  ‘Tara’  a  Tibetan  goddess  is  focused  upon  and  tells  the  audience  his   experience  of  staying  and  studying  the  Tibetan  artwork  in  Bailguppe(a  Buddhist   monastery  in  Karnataka).  Also  the  Potala  Palace,  the  scaled  down  model  on   which  Rammurthy  is  working  which  is  also  the  chief  residence  of  Dalai  Lama  is   zoomed  in.  In  the  next  scene  his  contemporary  artworks  for  which  he  has  won   many  awards  have  been  shown.  Rammurthy’s  artwork  also  includes  huge  murals   of  size  8*3  ft.  Murals  depicting  the  stories  from  Ramayana  and  Mahabarata  are  


installed in  Ramoji  film  city,  Hyderabad.  The  subsequent  scene  takes  us  to  his  old   days  when  in  1960  he  came  to  Bangalore  and  started  working  at  RDTDC  in   1980’s.  The  RDTDC  is  focused  in  the  next  scene  and  how  the  center  works  is   stressed  upon. RDTDC  also  houses  a  small  museum.  This  museum  displays  the   beautiful  art  works  made  by  crafts  men  of  RDTDC.  Some  of  these  are  50  years   old.  The  Center  has  a  Design  Section.  Experienced  designers  work  here  to  design   beautiful  Kinhal,  Lacquer  ware  and  Hardwood  artifacts.   The  closing  scene  of  the  documentary  tells  the  audience  to  continue  the  legacy  of   woodcraft  and  the  efforts  done  by  Rammurthy  for  blossoming  woodcraft.     For  this  he  runs  a  small  Gurukul.  To  enter  this  Gurukul  there  is  only  one   condition  -­‐  The  student  has  to  stay  away  from  his  family  for  three  years  to   master  the  art  of  woodcraft.  It  ends  with  showcasing  the  closing  credits  to   RDTDC,  Mr.  Rammurthy  &  faculty  at  NID  who  helped  in  making  the  research   project  successful.                        

    Conclusion     India  has  a  rich  variety  of  various  traditional  art  forms  and  they  need  to  be   revived  through  the  initiative  of  government  and  NGOs  who  can  play  a  great  role   by  setting  up  centers  like  RDTDC  and  making  refined  prototypes  to  be   distributed  in  the  village  clusters  so  that  the  reproduction  can  be  done  on  a   commercial  scale.  Marketing  agencies  and  Distributors  can  help  to  bring  them  to   the  user  market.  Some  guidelines  can  be  fixed  to  keep  a  check  on  the  huge  profit   those  middlemen  and  distributors  make  so  that  the  artists  are  affected  less  and   their  motivation  is  boosted  more.   Transfer  of  skill  is  an  important  aspect  and  some  initiative  must  be  taken  to   spread  the  tools  and  techniques  of  the  process  among  various  communities   rather  than  the  traditional  ones  so  that  the  craft  can  be  propagated  more.    


As far  as  technology  is  concerned,  virtual  museum  has  got  its  pros  and  cons   Pros:  A  future  proposition  can  be  adding  the  e-­‐commerce  aspect  to  virtual   museum,  which  can  return  funding  to  the  woodcraft  centers  and  artists.   Touchscreen  technology  can  add  a  lot  to  the  user  experience  and  can  make  it   interesting  for  students  and  youth.     Cons:  Newer  prototypes  cannot  be  updated  as  it  needs  a  content  management   system  which  if  included  cannot  be  updated  by  laymen  involved.       References   RDTDC  (Regional  Design  Technical  Development  Centre)   Mr.  Prabhakaran  (Asst.  Director,  Bangalore  office)   Mr.  Mohan  (Chief  Designer)   Mr.  Rammurthy  (Woodcraft  Artist)     Faculty  at  NID  (National  Institute  of  Design,  R&D  Campus,  Bangalore)     Dr.  Bibhudutta  Baral     Mrs.  Mamata  Rao     Mrs.  Jagriti  Galphade     Mr.  Williams      

Virtual Museum and Documentary on ‘Woodcraft in Karnataka’  
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