Ektaal, a crafts village located near Raigarh is a small and very basic village. What makes it special is the fact it is home to many national and state level award-winning artisans.
Ektaal – Dhokra Art Crafts Village of Chhattisgarh.
The whole village is engaged in making handmade metal craft popularly known as Dhokra art. They continue to use the age-old technique of Lost Wax method that was used even during the times of Indus Valley Civilization. Designs are made on a clay tablet with threads of bee wax. Wax strands are also made using a small wooden machine using the simple pressing method. Another layer of clay is added to mould after the wax settles. And then the molten metal is put between the two clay layers. The wax burns out and the metal settles in its place. When the clay mould is broken the shining metal comes out in the desired shape.
We found women were engaged in laying the design part on clay tablets. While men were taking care of the rest of the activities like making wax stands, putting the clay molds on fire, breaking it, arranging the finished product. And making an effort to sell it. Most of the designs revolve around tribal deities and folk characters and their stories. They are slowly trying to come up with designs on usable items like cutlery etc.. Though I think a lot can be done to use the same art for the changing needs of the world.
Smt. Budhiarin Devi – National Award Winner Artist.
I enjoyed my small conversation with the national award winner Smt. Budhiarin Devi who proudly showed us her latest creation that won her the state level award. It was interesting to hear about her travels and her impression of the places she has visited. These expert artisans travel around the country showcasing their art. From time to time they get invited to conduct workshops on their craft in other states. Their craft has in a way become their vehicle to see the world. While providing the world a window into their own culture. Is that not one of the prime purposes of the art – to communicate across all man-made divides.
I remember visiting the Chhattisgarh state emporium in Raipur that is run by a committee with a curious name – Jhitku Mitki. I enquired my guide about Jhitku Mitki, he said they are just a part of folklore but could not tell the story associated with the name. But something kept telling me that there must be a story associated with these names. I came back and searched on the Internet and found this story.
Story of Jhitku Mitki.
Mitki was a young girl in a family of seven brothers that lived in the area of Bastar. As Mitki grew up her brothers brought home Jhitku, a young man to marry her, and both Jhtiku Mitki fell in love with each other. After a while, the family needed someone to be sacrificed for a religious ritual. As they could not find anyone else, they sacrificed Jhitku. Mitki could not take this and she also killed herself. Since then the tribes of Bastar worship them as a couple. People here believe that all your wishes come true when you worship Jhitku Mitki. They are also known by other names like Gappa Dei and Lakkad Dei, or Dokra-Dokri. They have also become an essential part of the artwork that this area creates.
Most of the villagers in Ektaal belong to Jhara tribe, which is a sub-tribe of Gonds. They migrated here from Odisha sometime back. Quite used to talking to journalist and visitors, as soon as they saw a group of people with cameras and notepads. They start talking about their issues in the hope that you would be able to write about them. And hopefully get some resolution. How do I tell them that I am as helpless as them in this country?
Recommend you to read following Tourist Places in Chhattisgarh.