Usta Art of Bikaner, Rajasthan, How Usta Art is Done
The first time I saw Usta art I was overwhelmed by its fine intricate designs in combination of gold and bright primary colors. I have seen them mostly in exhibitions for sale. Even the smallest piece of Usta work can cause a dent in your pocket. I was under the impression it is because of the gold that was used. However I realized how wrong I was when the entire making process of Usta art Bikaner was explained to me. The laborious effort that goes into making a small piece completely justifies the cost of Usta art works.
Usta Art Bikaner
Thanks to Narendra Bhawan familiarization trip I could meet a Usta work artist. Artist Hussain Ustaad has been working on this art since childhood. Interestingly the art got its name from the Urdu word Ustaad meaning master. Yet another saying is the name came from Usta faction of Muslim community which were associated with this art form.
Artist Ajmal Hussain Ustaad explained the various motifs that went into making of Usta art Bikaner are related to Mughal art. The skill has passed down through several generations but at one time it was almost at the verge of disappearance due to lack of interest by younger generations to pick up the skill. However with some effort and support by government the interest has revived. Students now join to learn the art.
Usta the most famous art form of Bikaner involve miniature paintings with gold and filling spaces with bright meena (brilliantly bright) colors, vice versa too. The base material on which this art work is done varies: they can be camel leather, glass, ceramic, wood, on building parts like ceilings, walls, and doors. Usta art work on white base like marble or ivory is real treat to eyes.
Usta Art How it is Done
While the artisan was explaining the process I briefly noted down these points
- First they smoothen the base surface
- The dimensions of the base material within which the design is to made is fixed
- Next they make the required measurements,
- On this they put in the first stage of design,
- Followed by filling in the colour with brush,
- After drying it, embossing is done using a paste,
- A yellow paint is applied over this,
- After drying it the gold foils are applied and
- Finally the outlines are detailed.
The net result is mind-blowing designs with distinct colours.
Usta Kala is On Walls and Ceilings
Usta art work is can be seen in temples and several monuments of Bikaner. Narendra Bhawan’s interiors have some wonderful collection of this art work. One of them is here.