Rural art & crafts of Assam

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Art arises as an expression of common people as expressions of culture, expression of religion and expression of belief.

In cases where the art form finds a patron, the technique gets honed and competition gives rise to experts. The development that this results in, creates entry barriers and the creation of the art then becomes restricted to the small body of ‘experts’. The masses get shut out of the that particular artistic process.

In folk art – fortunately this ‘development’ of technique does not occur and the process of art creation remains seated within every household.This gives rise to infinite diversity and unique soul, that rests with no powerful minority but with each individual member of the vast majority. Tribal Persian rugs and Goan Tulsi pots are examples I have explored earlier.

In the Guwahati museum, there is a section on rural life in Assam that displays antique objects of daily use created for a speicfic household function. These are displayed alongside folk articles used in rituals and cultural events that were created mainly with an artistic bent. While the folk art pieces are stunning in their naivete, it is hard to ignore the artistic expression in the rural functional pieces.

First examples of antique folk art pieces created for the sake of beauty :

Earthen masks

Shown below are the functional articles created by village folk that often become the medium for expressing creativity.

Some examples of antique articles made from cane, clay and bamboo:

Fishing basket

Bird trap

Fishing trap

Storage basket


Rope spindle

Cane Hand fan with a central woven design

Rice husk strainer

Woven straw plate with rim design

And finally there are the articles that are products of expert technique of the period, but today are seen as works of art.

Copper inscription plates (not rural)

Stone inscriptions (not rural)

All of these pieces are exhibited at the State Museum in Guwahati, Assam, India.


Feb 18, 2011

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