lipan
FOLK HERITAGE

MUD-MIRROR ART AND LIPPAN

KUTCHI MURAL WORK FROM GUJARAT- I

My longing for handicraft prompt me to explore and write something about the untamed folk heritage of GujaratLippan Kaam. It thrives through the vast stretches of the world’s greatest salt desert, the Great Rann of Kutch found in western India and Pakistan.

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Mud- Mirror Work, Mudditation

IN LITERAL TERMS:

Mud-Mirror work is also known as Chittar kaam. In Gujarati language, Lippan kaam means-

  • Lipan or Lippan= Clay or Dung
  • Kaam = work

THE RABARI COMMUNITY:

When we travel across the barren salt deserts of Kutch, we relive the traditional Mud-Mirror Work and Lippan Kaam of Gujarat. This art is a kind of Kutchhi Mural work popularly done by the women of the Rabari community. 

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Rabari Woman inside the bhung house- nevilzaveri (flickr.com)

Rabari is the pastoral community of Kutch, living in the outskirts of its villages. They dwell in a few clusters and create houses known as “BHUNGA” – THE MUD HOUSE FROM GUJARAT which are beautiful sparkling mud houses designed aesthetically with mirror work on the outer walls and built to protect them from sun, sandstorms and Earthquakes.

HISTORY AND ORIGIN OF LIPPAN:

Lippan kaam owes its origin to the nomadic Rabari clan of Kutch and Kheda districts of Gujarat but its history is still unknown. Presently this work is done by various communities of Kutch in their own distinctive styles which makes it even harder to trace the origin of Lippan Kaam.

Lipan is so much imbibed in community and rural houses as one can find such work on their storage granaries, mud seating, chulha or cooktop, platforms, on walls, windows, shelves everywhere.

MATERIALS FOR LIPPAN KAAM:

  • Initially camel dung or wild ass dung was used as the main binding agent for preparing the dough that is mixed with clay.
  • Sometimes millet was also used as an alternative to cow dung.
  • The clay used for this work is actually mud which is thoroughly sieved to obtain the fine particles which blends easily with the other particles.
  • But these days instead of dung and millet, either saw dust or chalk powder is used.
SILBATTA LOVE- THE KUTCH -LIPPAN KAAM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDCw4HTQgOM

LIPPAN PATTERNS :

In Lippan Kaam Rabaries depict their day to day lives in the form of motifs. They usually illustrate peacocks, camels, elephants, mango trees, symbolic temples, joyous women churning buttermilk, water bearing women, and other daily activities of the life in Kutch.

GEOMETRIC MOTIF LIPAN WALL HANGING, GARVIGUJARAT
GEOMETRIC MOTIF LIPAN WALL HANGING, GARVIGUJARAT

Most of the time designs of lippan kaam are freehand drawings. Muslim communities however use geometric patterns as motifs because using animals and human symbols is prohibited in their religion.

LIPPAN MOTIFS:

The motifs are inspired from the rich and famous embroidery patterns and once the walls are done they look stunning with mirrors embedded in the mud work, much like the embroideries itself.

The mirrors used are called aabhla and come in various shapes – round, diamond & triangular. These mirrors looks aesthetically appealing and add glittering light inside the bhunga homes.

INTERIORS SHOWCASING LIPPAN KAAM

The mud- mirror work here is elaborately done on walls, partitions, ceilings, doorways, niches and floors.

Photo Courtsey: https://www.allposters.com/

There is so much about Lippan that could not be covered in a single post. We’ll continue our talk some other time. Till then you keep embracing the beauty that lies in the life of folk.

Hope you enjoy the article. Feedbacks are appreciated.

RELATED: “BHUNGA” – THE MUD HOUSE FROM GUJARAT

[INSPIRATION http://www.dsource.in/resource/mud-mirror-art/introduction]

IMAGES: WIKIMEDIA AND PIXAHIVE.COM

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