The world is booming with modern technology and consistently generating substitutes of original and natural products that are much cheaper than the latter. Be it adultered food products, low-quality apparel, or cheap synthetic material used in art and craft, all seem a good bargain or pleasing appearance in the beginning, but eventually, come with a cost to the planet. These substandard items definitely gain popularity amongst the masses but are equally difficult to decompose. On the contrary, in ancient times, India was heavily dependent on nature for its sustenance and recreational activities.
While all other fields switched to substitute material, centuries-old Indian traditional art still remains true to its roots. Right from the canvas to colours all are obtained from natural pigments to date. Natural rocks, dried leaves, and flowers are ground into fine powder using mortar and pestle. While some rituals of sourcing natural colours are revered others are done for the purpose of sustainability.
Rooftop appreciates and values the Indian traditional art practices and invariably works towards reviving them. With an intent to create awareness and make centuries-old art forms accessible to the masses, Rooftop has introduced its unique Maestro Course which captures and explains the nuances of Indian art forms and their techniques. Each Maestro is subdivided into different learning parameters and is conducted by award-winning Indian artists. Right from prepping the cloth as a canvas with household ingredients to explaining the importance and technique of making natural pigments, everything is explained in minute detail for better understanding.
Pichwai, Phad, Gond, Mata ni Pachedi, Pattachitra, Warli, Bhil, Cheriyal the list is endless, all these Indian traditional art use natural, sustainable pigments to paint on their canvases. Rooftop collaborates with the artists and formulates the content in easy and engaging courses.
Indian artisans have several reasons behind using these natural pigments.
Cultural and Traditional Significance
India has a rich history of using natural pigments in art and craft, dating back thousands of years. Many art forms and traditional crafts have deep-rooted connections to nature and spirituality. Using natural pigments is a way to honor these traditions and maintain cultural authenticity.
Natural pigments are typically sourced from plants, minerals, and other organic materials. They are renewable and eco-friendly, making them more sustainable than synthetic pigments, which are often derived from petrochemicals and can have a negative environmental impact.
Vibrant and Unique Colors
Natural pigments can produce a wide range of vibrant and unique colors that are not easily replicated by synthetic alternatives. Artisans appreciate the depth and richness of these colors in their work.
Non-toxic and Safe
Many natural pigments are non-toxic and safe to handle, which is important for the health of artisans who may be exposed to these materials over extended periods. Synthetic pigments can sometimes contain harmful chemicals.
Connection to Nature
Using natural pigments allows artisans to maintain a connection to the natural world. It often involves a process of collecting, grinding, and preparing the pigments themselves, which can be a spiritual and meditative experience for some artisans.
The texture and visual effects created by natural pigments can be more appealing to some artisans. The granular nature of many natural pigments can add a unique texture and depth to their art.
Craftsmanship and Artistry
Using natural pigments requires a greater level of skill and craftsmanship to extract, process, and apply. This adds value to the art and crafts, as it reflects the artisan’s dedication and mastery of their craft.
Though natural pigments come with their limitations yet its a conscious decision taken by several traditional Indian artists and is appreciated globally.