PAPER MIRACLES – SANJHI CRAFT WORKSHOP
“50 years from now, if all the crafts die out, the next generation will have nothing to fall back upon and we will only see it at the Victoria and Albert Museum – which is sad. It is vital for us to connect better with our audience to create demand for karigars so that they have a sustainable living.”
The above words, said by renowned designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, resonate with the vision of our Executive Director, Ms Rupal Dalal who has taken it upon herself to make craft learning an intrinsic part of the design education curriculum. Interactive, experiential learning is the core of the teaching pedagogy at JD Institute of Fashion Technology.
This week’s focus was the beautiful craft of Mathura, Vrindavan called the Sanjhi Craft. It is a centuries old craft, characterized by hand cutting of paper to make intrinsic patterns that are related to the life of Lord Krishna. Legend has it that the craft originated when the Gopis started decorating the door fronts of their houses so that Krishna would stop to rest and admire. The word Sanjhi comes from “Sanjh”, meaning evening, the time when Krishna used to come back to the village after spending whole day in the woods, with his herd of cows. It is now a ritual art done in the temples of Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana where Sanjhis are worshipped.
The workshop was conducted by Mr. Mohan Kumar Verma, one of the few remaining custodians of Sanjhi and a fourth generation Sanjhi artist. His 25 years of experience in the art of Sanjhi is evident in his intricate, layered designs. He has been practicing and promoting the craft relentlessly since the tender age of 11.
Jediiians learnt about the origin, motifs, tools and techniques of the craft. It was a hands-on workshop where they learnt how to use the special hand-made scissors and cut out detailed patterns to give shape to beautiful artworks. They also learned how Sanjhi craft is used in contemporary ways to create objects like lamps, coasters, wall decorations, trays, door panels, partitions and the like.
It was a rich, learning experience for the students who are always keen to explore new craft forms so that they can apply the knowledge in creating and developing new designs. Students also learnt about other uses of this craft like making stencils and using them for printing on paper, fabrics etc.
To take the learning process to the next level, students will collectively, make a huge wall panel of Sanjhi Craft which will serve to instill love for Indian traditional crafts and at the same time spread awareness about the dying crafts.