Monday, December 15, 2008
Pipli's Appliqué Work
I have started believing that the most beautiful things in life happen unexpectedly.
Driving down the highway in Orissa, I was mesmerized by the sudden change in my surroundings. It was as if someone poured thousands of colors all over the region. Both sides of the road were displayed parasols, wall hangings and various types of bags in bright shades of red, green and yellow. On inquiring, I came to know that these wonderful art works were created in a small town called Pipli, situated on the highway between Bhubaneswar and Puri. There was something different yet very common about the art work on the products and that enticed me to go their origin place.
Pipli is the home to the old appliqué art work. Only on looking at them closely did I come to know that Pipli's treasure is not exactly unknown. The giant canopies, colorful beach umbrellas, wall hangings and lampshades are bought by millions across India, but nobody knows about its place of origin. It is not just a product you are buying, you are actually taking home a very old tradition, a treasure.
It is somewhat different from appliqué works elsewhere. In Pipli's appliqué work, motifs are cut out from various colored materials and then superimposed on a base cloth, usually of contrasting colors. It is not clear about its origin but they have been associated with rituals of Jagannatha Temple from as long as anybody could remember. They are used in ceremonial attire, ritualistic props and on drapes used in the chariots. There is a strict color code and only red, black, green, yellow and white colors can be used in religious art work.
Slowly the items on which appliqué work was used increased drastically as it was praised in all sections of the society. Today they are used on bags, parasols, wall hangings, room decorations, awnings, letter holders, bed covers and almost everywhere. I was told that Pipli appliqué work can be bought from anywhere in Orissa and government emporiums throughout the country, but i found it really pleasing to see the craftsmen at work. It really helps you appreciate the craft more once you see it being born. So if you are traveling to Puri or Bhubaneswar or anywhere close, do not forget to visit Pipli, it is worth it.