When it comes to Bihar, the one thing that comes first in everyone's mind is Madhubani painting, a popular art of the region. However, there is not only Madhubani painting but also another form of art equally popular in the region, it’s Tikuli Kala. We have witnessed Tikuli Kala in its pristine glory at the Trade Fair this year.
The word ‘tikuli’ means bindi (a colourful dot worn by women on their forehead between eyebrows) while kala means art, hence Tikuli Kala. Tikuli Kala originates from Magadh region of Bihar and is a common word for bindis in Bihar.
Explaining about the art, Shabina Imam, an exhibitor at the Trade Fair and a Tikuli artist from Patna, said, “In ancient times, tikuli was worn by queens. It was made of molten glass after blowing it to a thin sheet. The sheet is cut to size before placing a gold foil on it and tracing the design patterns in natural colours.”
These bindis were popular during Mughal era. However, after the decline of the Mughals and the advent of the British rule, the art suffered a serious blow and in due course of time the artisans were rendered jobless. In their place, the British introduced machine-made bindis which were cheaper.
Elaborating on the art form, Shabina said, “After India's independence, Gold Act came into being which made it difficult for the artisans to use the yellow metal. Many people left the work as artificial bindis had become more popular owing to their affordability.”
The credit for bringing back the art goes to Upendra Maharathi, one of the artisans of tikuli kala. He went to Japan and saw that Japanese making their local art on board. The visit gave him a clue about how to bring the art back. Back home, he replaced glass with board to make the painting.
However, the name of the art was retained and hence till date it is known as Tikuli painting.”
The illustrations in the paintings depict Indian culture and mythology like Ramayana, Mahabharta and other epics.
Shabina says while Madhubani is made by free hand, special technique is needed for Tikuli.
“Tikuli requires a great deal of skill. Three months' training is given to excel in this art,” said the Tikuli artist.
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The painting, which is made on MGF board, requires four or five layers of enamel as compared to Madhubani which is made on paper or cloth. It is water and dust proof and lasts for up to 25 years.
Shabina runs an institute named Shabrang Art and Craft in Patna which gives training to underprivileged women with the required skills. “We provide board to the women. They earn around Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 5,000 by making these paintings.”
Tikuli Kala is made on coasters, tray, table mats, tissue paper, pen stand, holder and wall hanging.
As for the price range of the products at her stall, it started from Rs. 150 for a Ganesh idol, and went up to Rs. 5,000 for a painting on a large board.
Speaking about her experience at the fair, Shabina said, “It was good that I managed to sell a lot of my products.”
Besides Madhubani and Tikuli, other popular paintings of Bihar are Patnakalam, Manjusha and Bhojpuri.