Colours and grandeur have always played a role in welcoming guests to Odisha!
As you travel to Puri, it is Pipli that will give you a colourful welcome with its traditional craft, Chandua. Traditional arts and crafts are the hallmarks of the Odia society along with its centuries old temples and architecture. Traditionally most of the Odia crafts are linked with the festivities of gods and goddesses or rituals of religious nature. Odia literature, history and handicrafts depict that the appliqué work or Chandua craft were first produced for the Lord Jagannath temple of Puri primarily to adorn the deities. It is the canopies and other such appliqués which have been used in different festivities of Lord Jagannath. The use of Chandua craft is very prominent during the famous Car festival of the deities.
Later these attractive and painstakingly designed craft was used by the elites like kings, zamindars and rich businessmen. It is remarkable how every family in Pipli is engaged in this appliqué craft. Most of the people in the village depend on this profession for their livelihood. The traditional tailors belonging to darzi caste at Pipli carry out the Chandua profession and the occupation is passed on from father to son hereditarily.
Giant-sized umbrellas used in festive occasions, garden/beach umbrellas, canopies, big heart-shaped fans, wall-hangings, and now mobile covers, lady handbags, cover files, etc. are the different varieties of appliqué products that the darzis of Pipli, so beautifully make. The tailors cut out figures of animals, birds, flowers, deities, etc. out of the richly coloured cloth and arrange symmetrically on the base cloth and stitch in place to produce a stunning design. Large applique canopies are an integral part of marriage celebrations and also religion processions like Dola Yatra, Car festival of Puri and so on. In temples across the state even in small villages, canopies are hung over the deities to protect them from dust.
Tourists coming to Puri buy Chandua in Pipli on their way and offer the banners to the deity. They also carry many decorative and utilitarian items of Chandua work to their home. With changing time the appliqué makers have reoriented the crafts according to the modern taste and fashion to include garments of varied designs, screens, wall hangings of bigger size with appliqué touch are also being made depicting the different characters of religious myth and puranic story for decorating houses.
Having an ancient tradition of making splendid pieces of art and craft by hands, Odia artists have long been presenting their awe inspiring master-pieces to the world. The traditional craft which was confined to the Puri Jagannath temple and to worshiping of few local village deities during the early days has now been in great demand both in national and international markets.
If you ever visit the place Puri, famous for the centuries old Jagannath temple and an electrifying beach, Pipli is a must see too. And I bet any art lover will love this colourful place. So go ahead and take back colours of Odisha to your home.
[Photo Courtesy]:Sunnil Kalinndi