Aug 23, 2011 (Calcutta Tube/ IBNS): The popularity of ethnic designs in high end jewellery in gold and silver reflects a new appreciation of the traditional discovers Baishali Mukherjee
Imagine tremulous tendrils of mountainous thymes entwining your neck while a one-horned rhino kisses your earlobes! Sounds spooky! Well, not if they are worn as high fashion jewellery. As the world at large is trying to get back to traditions, the fashionistas in the country too are looking back to find creative inspiration in its ethnic richness. In jewellery, both fashion and traditional ones, tribal art is coming to the fore.
A number of jewellery brands are taking the initiative to revive the dying arts of indigenous tribes of the country as well as promoting the prevalent ones. Meet Rupak Saha of Adi Kriti, specialising in tribal jewellery tradition in gold. “It was the golden jubilee of our family business in 2009 and we wanted to make the event unique. Coming from Tripura I am well versed with the diversity and richness of the North East and feel that the region has not been promoted properly. Hence Adi Kriti,” reveals Saha. He claims that Adi Kriti, “promotes the culture and life styles of 200 tribes living in the region.”
[ReviewAZON asin=”B000OJSAJU” display=”inlinepost”]After an extensive research on the history of North East and visiting the remote places to learn about the tribes , the designs of the products were created under the supervision of Arpita Saha, head of the design team at Adi Kriti.
The World Gold Council accredited the project as a unique design-led idea and provided marketing support to the brand right from its conceptualization stage. Nature and wild life, two inherent aspects of the North East, are extended to other facets of the brand as well- like the interior décor of the store, design of the jewellery boxes and other aspects of the presentation.
One of initiatives at Adi Kriti has been reviving ‘lipchouk’- a dying art form of Manipur.
“In this tradition, a thin layer of gold is wrapped on a prop and then made into the jewellery. The process is tedious and time taking but the end product is exotic,” says Saha who, apart from four showrooms in his home town, now owns a brand new outlet in Kolkata.
Among the clients of Adi Kriti are well-known Manipuri dancer Preeti Patel and fashion designer duo Mona Pali.
Saha also showcased his creations at Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week- Autumn Winter . Motifs like one-horned rhinos and the Shiva ‘dol’ of Unocoti, (a mountain in Tripura with one less than a crore Shiva idols, which are believed to be engraved by the tribes of the area. Unocoti means one less than a crore) were used in the designs.
While it is motifs and symbols that are characteristic of North East tribal art it is the engraving that makes the jewellery of Bastar one of its kind. The intricate designs of the jewellery is time consuming and involves high production cost, a reason for it to become a dying art. But people like Bhupesh Tiwari are taking an initiative to revive the glory of Bastar jewellery. Using ‘dokra’ as the main ingredient, Tiwari is trying to replicate the traditional heavy silver jewellery, thus making it time and cost effective.
“We are not into commercial production and only cater to the demands of people with taste in fashion jewellery,” he says. Among the products, one painjar (heavy anklets with intricate designs) costs Rs 4,500 in silver and Rs 1,500 in dokra and a Suta (bracelet) is priced between Rs 4,000-4,500. “Our clientele is limited to the classical dancers and those with an eye for exclusivity,” admits Tewari.
[ReviewAZON asin=”0713687290″ display=”inlinepost”]Dambaru Bharbehera of Orissa, on the other hand, is into mass production of silver, brass and copper jewellery fashioned on tribal art. Apart from his showroom in Bhubaneswar, his products are also available at the government emporium of Orissa and Pride stores all over India.
The eye catching designs which are opulent with intricacy and style have taken the fancy of the new generation as well. That brands like Tribal Zone has made its presence felt in most of the shopping malls validates it. Launched in 2003, Tribal Zone is today one of leading fashion jewellery brands in the country.
“It’s a fusion of Indo Western elements which make every piece unique,” claims Vikas Bafna, owner of Tribal Zone. Designs are inspired by ethnic arts of Gujarat, Sikkim, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, etc.
Encouraged by response to the trial run of the products based on Sikkim the brand was launched. “Our USP is our designs and we also don’t repeat our styles which give a fresh choice to our customers,” explains Bafna. The product range includes necklaces, earrings, bracelets, bangles, finger rings, anklets, etc. priced between Rs 49 to Rs 2,500 and are available at well-known retailers in shopping malls.
Ruhee Das Chowdhury, professor, National Institute of Fashion Technology, Kolkata, has been following the fashion trends in India sfor some time. She observes that “Tribal jewellery is very much in and reigning the ramps these days.”
“Most of the designers of India are working with the tribal designs improvising them according to their need. The fashionable crowd is also getting attracted because of the delicacy and traditional looks of the designs that makes you look different.”
Not so commercial but equally intriguing are the initiatives taken by some of the tribal and backward communities of West Bengal to promote regional art through jewellery which has also given them some amount of financial security. Monoj Kaji and his wife Phultusi Begum are into jewellery business in their own humble way. Inspired by the age old designs of ‘dokra’, the couple improvises the products by using beads, strings etc and mix and match to create trendy pieces.
“Come the season of ‘melas’ in Kolkata, our products sell like hot cakes. We also supply our designs to the whole-sellers for marketing in other cities. The business has proved good for us,” confides a shy Phultusi Begum.
Jewellery designed by tribals out of a typical grass grown in Purulia of West Bengal (‘babui ghas’) are also gaining popularity among the patrons of the la mode.
– Trans World Features (TWF)