Virtual Museum and Documentary on ‘Woodcraft in Karnataka’ Richa Sehgal National Institute of Design | firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Origin of Woodcraft
Showcase & Museum View
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