Adding colours to dying art!

The rustic ambience touches your heart the moment you enter the room with mud walls, decorated with aesthetically appealing designs using paint made of rice paste and white mud. Inside the room,  Chandrashekhar N, one of the very few in the state who avidly practices the unique Hase Chittara art form, which is on a verge of extinction in the passage of time, is busy designing a clay pot.

His fingers move effortlessly; myriad hues that billow out of a petite brush artistically made of grass recreate the images on the pot. The designs mainly stylized geometric shapes and tribal figures, representing fertility symbols, images that narrate the inevitable bond with nature transport the viewer to the bygone era.

In a world where so much creative expression is themed in different subjects, Chandrashekhar chooses to portray nature most of the time. What sets Chandrashekhar apart from the rest of the ilk is that he is not restricted to the traditional art form; he invents new designs, applies his creative ideas on varied canvases such as red-mud-coated-cane-baskets, clay pots, pen stands made of bamboo, cloth and other surfaces. The geometrical line drawn in the pictures are the most attractive as they consume 90 per cent of the space in an image.

Chandrashekhar’s enthusiasm knows no boundaries when he talks about his experiments with Hase Chittara or mural painting, a folk craft practiced by Deewaru and Adi Dravida communities in Shimoga and Uttara Kannada districts of Karnataka. Traditionally, women of the region paint using natural colours on occasions such as weddings and festivals.









The spark has been on his mind right from childhood, says Chandrashekhar, who hails from Sirivante in Sagar taluk. Being a farmer, it took many years for him to get engrossed in the form of art, true to the call of his mind. Nobody trained him in the art form, but his growing up with effervescent talented community people in the hamlet did the trick. And when destiny hit him, he decided to tread the path shown by his forefathers.

He carefully tried his hand on various designs, gave shapes to his imagination in a novel way, carving himself a niche in this field. His visits to Japan in 2008 and Dubai in 2010 have helped him popularise this unique art of Karnataka beyond the nation’s border. After practicing all traditional ways, Chandrashekhar, who conducted many exhibitions, also ventured into some experiments. Chandrashekhar’s latest design ‘Hase Mantapa’ (a four-dimension marriage pavilion) made of plywood, has caught the fancy of many art lovers. Usually, Hase Mantapas are designed on the walls with one-dimension structure. The pictures on this mantapa contain numerous straight lines and a few curved ones, symbolising life.

Buoyed by the response for the mini mantapa, Chandrashekhar has completed a huge single dimension Hase Mantapa using wood. ?This design is for those who want marriage ceremonies to be celebrated with a flavour of folk craft. This mantapa also contains many geometrical shapes and hustle bustle of rural life. Another paddy Kalyan Mantapa made of haystack hosted many marriages. Minor error in a picture can completely spoil the beauty of the art,” says Chandrashekhar, adding that intense care is required while drawing pictures.

Chandrashekhar, who has been practicing this art for the past two decades, rues that the attitude of the state government towards the artist community involved in reviving the folk craft and art is disappointing. ?The Department of Kannada Culture has not reimbursed the money I spent for my tours abroad to promote the art form. Even after approaching Chief Minister Yeddyurappa in this regard, no action has been taken,? he alleges.

About Hase chittara                                         

Hase chittara is a folk art of Malenadu region and Siddapur in Uttar Kannada district in Karnataka. The lines and patterns on these paintings symbolise an aspect of nature or depict the religious, social agricultural practices of the community. The drawing has been seen on the walls, doorframes, and doorsteps in the villages of Malenadu region. The materials used for this art is natural .

The community makes its own colours deriving from natural sources such as bark of trees, wild Barrie, seeds, rocks, minerals, and vegetables. Kemmannu (red earth), akki hittu (rice flour), masi kenda (coal), kaare kai (one kind of berry), guragekaai (which gives yellow colour) hittu, Sunna (lime stone), turmeric, milk etc has been used to prepare natural colours. While the designs on the paintings are common across the entire community, the paintings are divided in to three types according to the use of colours. They are bili hase, kappu hase and kemmannu hase.The drawing has been seen on the walls, door frames, and window frames. It can also been done on Bamboo basket .Generally the base is Kemmannu (red earth). While decorating the bamboo basket, the base is prepared by applying the mixture of red earth and cow-dung. To draw the lines the community use a natural brush made by grass.

(With inputs from Anil R Nair)

Author: Marx Tejaswi