Delhi school is a direct offshoot of the Mughal School. Mansoor, a
famous painter of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s court, is said to
be the author of this school and his direct descendants can still be
found following in his footsteps. Known for its dynamism and
naturalism, this school used a strong contrast in colours and the
paintings were done on ivory. Now with the ban on ivory, a special
handmade paper is in use. Musical Instruments Throughout history Delhi has been associated with the making of
musical instruments, along with Calcutta, Lucknow, Banaras, Lahore,
and Tanjore. There are still some old shops where musical instruments
are assembled. Check out Bina Musical Stores at Nai Sarak, Delhi
Musical Store at Jama Masjid and Lahore Music House at Daryaganj.
Gems, Kundan &
is home to two very special kinds of jewellery encouraged and
patronized to the level of an art form by the Mughals. Kundan and
meenakari are equally intricate and splendid, and it is impossible to
say which outshines the other.
Kundan is the Mughal-inspired art of setting of stones in gold and
silver. Gems are bedded in a surround of gold leaf rather than secured
by a rim or claw. Famous Meenakari, or the skill of enamelling, was
brought from Lahore to Delhi by Hindu Punjabis. Did you know that
enamelling was originally meant to protect gold, which in its pure
state is so soft and malleable that it can easily wear away?
Mughal fashion was to enamel the reverse side of jewellery to protect
it from contact with the wearer’s skin.Enamelling is a champleve technique, which in simple English means
that a recess is hollowed out in the surface of gold or silver to take
in a mineral. For example, cobalt oxide, which gives a blue colour, is
then fired into the depression so as to leave a thin line separating
the segments of colour. An ornament with both kundan and meenakari is
so astoundingly magnificent that it seems to have been conjured up by
rubbing Aladdin’s magical lampDo visit Dariba Kalan near Chandni Chowk, which is famous jewellers’
street. The traditional meenakari and kundan designs they have are
worth checking out. Another special thing to look out for is setting
of the navratan (nine precious stones) in gold. This is a traditional
skill practised by Muslim craftsmen called saadegars who settled in
Delhi during Shahjahan’s reign. Sarafs, traditional Hindu
jewellers who have been around for centuries, are still present and
doing good business too.
Pottery There’s no escaping pottery in India; it’s everywhere, in
every part, every nook and cranny of India. In Delhi, if you are
looking for terracotta pottery, then you’re in luck. You’ll
see cutwork lamps, long necked surahis (water-pots), gamle
(flowerpots), pitchers and cups of all shapes and sizes crawling all
over the place.
Around Saket, Uttam Nagar, Bindapur, Kotla Mubarakpur and Shahpurjat
you’ll find colonies with a concentration of potters. If you don’t
manage to get hold of quality earthenware in one of the roadside
shops, look out for it at the Crafts Museum in Pragati Maidan, Dilli
Haat and just outside the New Delhi Railway Station.The
art of making blue glaze pottery came to Delhi via Kashmir, the Mughal
emperors’ favourite retreat, and rolled on to Jaipur.
traditional Persian designs have now been adapted to please a more
sophisticated clientele. Apart from the predictable urns, jars, pots
and vases, you’ll now find tea sets, cups and saucers, plates and
glasses, jugs, ashtrays and even napkin rings. You can spot blue
pottery being made by Hazarilal who lives in Hauz Suiwalan, one of the
little alleys behind Asaf Ali Road.
The colour palette is restricted to blue derived from the oxide of
cobalt, green from the oxide of copper and white, though other
non-conventional colours such as yellow and brown have jumped into the
Delhi Arts & Crafts Delhi has an amazingly long tradition of arts and crafts. Strangely
enough not many people know about this: dilliwallas (Delhiites)
included. Hardly surprising, considering there’s so much to
confuse as arts and crafts from all over India camp out here.
Actually, it would be an insult if they didn’t – after all
isn’t Delhi the capital, the premiere city of India? Anyway, as a
result, local traditions have gone unnoticed. As the popular Hindi
adage goes: ghar ki murgi dal barabar, meaning that the things at home
are rarely appreciated!
In the year 1648 when Shahjahan built Shahjahanabad, the present-day
walled city (though there is hardly any wall left!). Chandni Chowk,
the famous market place came up as an accompaniment to the Red Fort in
it is not as if Delhi did not have any arts and crafts before this.
Stories have filtered down to us about Mohammad-bin-Tughlaq employing
as many as 500 expert weavers in Delhi as far back as in the 14th
century. Their assignment: to weave silk and gold brocades for the
ladies of the court and as royal gifts! However, such instances are
few and far between. Formally, it all began in1648.
So there, Delhi is not just a hodgepodge of traditions from all over.
It does have its own repertoire of arts and crafts. Check out the
following before you go shopping in the streets of Delhi.