We travelled through the Kutch area of Gujarat stopping intermittently at different villages and towns to explore the wild, history and more often than not the rich art heritage. While passing through stretches of barren land sans any form of vegetation, the odd bhungas (mud house) in sight would have beautifully decorated walls laden with mirrors. If you have grown up on Indian Bollywood movies you would recall the petite heroine in “Refugee” taking refuge in this art form decorating the walls of her home with a song on her lips while waiting for her beloved to come across the pristine white salt desert. After days of travelling we finally reached Dhordo, the last inhabited village on the Indian side of the the Great Rann ( the Salt Desert in the West of India). A local artisan very gladly demonstrated Mud Mirror Art or Lippan Kaam as it is known locally.
Earlier done only on mud walls of homes to act as an insulator in extreme climatic conditions, it now finds its pride of place in modern homes in the form of wall décor. Plywood has now replaced the earlier dried camel dung base (pungent smell) for decorative pieces. The design is drawn on a piece of plywood with pencil. Clay is mixed with water to make it soft and pliable and then rolled into long pieces and stuck on to the design with a mild adhesive. The work has to be done outside in, progressing step by step as it dries. Care should be taken that the long pieces of clay do not crack while being applied on to the design by applying light moisture. The mirrors are stuck appropriately with adhesive after the design is complete.
We watched in rapt attention, as he went about his work with absolute concentration. He encouraged us to try it out, but I soon realized, instant concentration is not my cup of tea. However, I will surely try it out when I need an involving calming break from my daily schedule. Some of these art forms are slowly being pushed aside as we take long strides to adopt the modern, the sleek and the cool. Let us give some space to our rich heritage in our homes and encourage the artisan in some corner of the country.
You might want to read: