5 Dying Art Forms That Can Be Saved

India’s rich cultural diversity has been a cause for national pride for centuries. But increasing modernization and a growing shift of the population away from rural areas in search of a sustainable livelihood has led to the unfortunate trend of the slow death of countless art forms across the nation. 

A lack of attention and resources have left these art forms on the edge of extinction. Art forms must be documented to capture the unique traditions and stories that are conveyed through art.

Here are 5 art forms that are disappearing before our eyes. 

  1. Puppetry

Puppetry is said to have been a part of Indian tradition for more than a thousand years. It is a remarkable feat that puppetry, a source of entertainment and storytelling for children and adults alike, has survived over centuries.

There are innumerable forms of puppetry but Kathputli of Rajasthani origin is the most popular. 

Puppetry is slowly losing the battle to television and cinema, with very few artists left who practise this art of traditional storytelling. 

  1. Dhokra craft 

An ancient folk art tradition, Dhokra craft objects are in high demand in both Indian and international markets. Despite the demand, Dhokra craftsmen find it increasingly difficult to continue their tradition. 

Crafts are created through a metal casting technique which has been unable to stand up to the competition set by machines. These days Dhokra artists, who are unable to earn money through their craft are finding it difficult to even find raw materials to make their crafts.

  1. Pattachitra 

Pattachitra is an ancient tradition in Orissa and West Bengal. Using vegetable and mineral-based paint, artists paint bright colours on cloth. Artists used to be commissioned by members of royalty in the olden days but now, the art form is fading. 

Artists who used to involve the whole family to make everything, paint, cloth and the art itself from scratch, are now unable to make a livelihood. 

  1. Sholapith craft 

Made from the Shola pant, this art form finds its origins in West Bengal. 

A part of the Shola plant is peeled off and left to dry in the sun, giving it a paper-like texture. 

Craftsmen known as Malakar spend months making ornaments and other handicrafts, which are usually sold during festivals. 

Some are also sold across the world. Unfortunately, Sholapith artisans are unable to make a livelihood in non-festival months. 

  1. Manjusha art 

Manjusha art form is believed to have originated in Bihar. It is a type of scroll painting that finds its origin in the Hindu festival of Bishari Pooja. 

Dating back to the 7th century, Manjusha art showcases a story through a series of artworks. 

The art form has been slowly dying for decades now, however, the Bihar government is making efforts to save it. 

How to save dying art forms

As a consumer, every individual has a buying capacity that can prove to be a powerful force in keeping dying art forms alive. 

Efforts by the government and NGOs are largely responsible for keeping countless art forms alive.  

Through strategic marketing, workshops for artists and helping them get an education, it is possible to keep ancient art traditions alive. 

Just take a look at Rogan painting tradition. A formerly dying art, it gained popularity when Abdulgafoor Khatri took up the ancient art and began selling it to big names in the countries, gaining praise and patronage from Narendra Modi to Amitabh Bachchan, with Modi even gifting one of Khatri’s work to Barack Obama. 

The subsequent fame led to nearly 200 people learning the art from him and some even taking it up full time. 

From being the only Rogan artist, Khatri is now joined by hundreds of people due to a renewed popularity. 

We need to save art forms from extinction because they are a reminder of centuries of tradition, values, beliefs and culture that shouldn’t be trapped only in museums, but rather should be celebrated across the nation.

We, at Dhayas Foundation, are working for the growth and upliftment of art forms such as the ones mentioned above by creating a global space for artists and artisans. 

NGOs have long played a crucial role in the revival and celebration of art forms. Dhayas Foundation hopes to continue this tradition by connecting artists to a larger audience by creating a marketplace that will help in economic upliftment and keep incredible art cultures and history alive.

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