Bihar has a rich heritage of craftsmanship. The handicrafts of Bihar present a combination of down-to-earth, artistic beauty and emotional contents. These aspects can be seen in Tikuli Art.
Tikuli Art is an 800-year-old artwork, originated from Patna, Bihar. Tikuli is a term used for bindis that women wear on their foreheads between the eyebrows. A bindi is a symbol of preserving women’s austerity and empowerment.
The art is produced on the local streets of Patna and is a rare specialty of the city. It is done on a hardboard or medium-density fireboard and flaunts both religious and common folk subjects. Its theme comprises of Mithila painting and Patna Kalam to form a unique style. It showcases Indian wedding scenes, festivals of Bihar, etc. It is water and dustproof and hence can last up to 25 years.
The process of making this art is a bit tiring and needs a lot of patience. It requires a special set of skills to manufacture this art. The artists cut the boards into shapes and coat them with enamel. After every coat, the board is rubbed with sandpaper. This is done to give a polished, shiny look. When the coating process is finished, the patterns are drawn using paint. It is then decorated with gold foil and crystals.
Tikuli art has existed since the Mughal period. It all started in the ancient times when Queens and Aristocrats ladies wore bindis created by melting glass, adding colors, tracing patterns and then decorating it with gold leaves and gems. The Mughals were the active patron of art. But with the decline of the Mughal Empire and the introduction of industrialization, this process got replaced by cheaper machine-made bindis. Several artists became jobless and the art was lost somewhere in the mayhem.
Now this artwork has made its comeback. This notable initiative was taken by Chitracharya Padmashree Upendra Maharathi and Shree Ashok Kumar Biswas. Padmashree Upendra Maharathi was a painter, designer and renowned artist. He was an admirer of folk and traditional forms of art and craft. He used to work with local craftsmen of Bihar and Odissa so that he could revive the folk forms and making them living traditions. He thought of reviving the art with Japanese techniques. He re-established the craft in the form of enamel paint on the hardboard.
Shree Ashok Kumar Biswas is a Tikuli artist, craftsman and painter and hails from Bihar. He took the art form to a whole new level. He along with his wife Shibani Biswas developed the art into a source of living. He has trained around 6000 artists. He was assigned the job of explaining the subtle art of Tikuli to the visitors of the International Fair held in Seoul.
The resurrection of Bihar’s heritage, Tikuli artform, now deals in patterns of parrots, coconuts, rhythms, fingers, face and its expressions on dupattas, trays, tissue papers, pen stands, wall hangings, table mats etc.
Today, Tikuli art has created income generation opportunities for the state. Its artistic features and delicate designs have captured the attention of both national as well as international markets. Such art forms showcase the diversity of Indian art to the rest of the world. Hence, it is necessary to preserve these art forms from India’s cultural past.