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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Indian Art and Craft : Shekhavati - India's Open Air Art Gallery - 7

Shekhavati in north east Rajasthan that once fell on the Spice route of merchants, is an open air treasure. Its numerous painted homes lining the streets of small towns make the region the largest open air art gallery in the world.

The architecture of the 19th and 20th centuries consists of an exaggerated display of the wealth of the merchants of the region (Marwaris). This region is special, as it has produced the maximum number of millionaires and billionaires in India. Shekhwati is named after its ruler Rao Shekha of the 15th century. Strategically placed on the route between the ports of Gujarat and northern India, the region became very prosperous by imposing levies on the caravans of traders passing through. When the region's fortunes fell after the development of new ports like Mumbai and Kolkata, the merchants migrated en masse.

The paintings are to be found everywhere in profusion, on walls, balconies, ceilings, arches and pillars, on the dome of the cenotaphs (cremation grounds) and even on the rim of the wells.

The havelis (homes with courtyards) are huge. The piece de resistance is the fine depiction of various designs and characters in the form of frescoes covering all walls and ceilings. Blue and maroon are prominent colors, through vivid golds are also used. Illustrations range from floral to mythology to even scientific inventions. The paintings convey that the prosperous merchants must have been very impressed by their overseas travels as there are several paintings of English ladies, motorcars, gramophones and even the Wright brothers!

Prominent towns of the region are Nawalgarh, Mandawa, Mahansar, Mukundgarh, Lachhmangarh, Singhana, Parasrampura, Khetri, Baggar and Jhunjunu.


Related Links:

01. Indian Art and Craft : The Living Age - 1
02. Indian Art and Craft : The painting history of India - 2
03. Indian Art and Craft : India the home of Painting - 3
04. Indian Art and Craft : Ajanta Paintings - 4
05. Indian Art and Craft : Floor Designs and Madhubani Paintings - 5
06. Indian Art and Craft : Art of body painting - 6
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