Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The art of Line Drawings: Mandana

Rajasthani people defy the rough and sultry weather and carve out an abode under the shadow of inimitable arts and crafts. A mad riot of red, golden, green set the walls ablaze in defiance to the mundane earthy sand dunes and barren scapes. 

It is here that Mandana art has always been symbolic of festive occasions. Sacred moments are sanctified by these line drawings extensively used at weddings and during Diwali, Holi and other religious occasions. Mandana drawings were done on mudlayered walls of homes, on public walls and chowks (squares). It is closely related to the fields of Vaastu, beauty and adyatam (study) yantras (tantric diagrams). It draws many parallel stories for its reason to be practiced so religiously when one goes into the details of this art.

Rajasthani women draw this pattern to invoke Baladevi, the goddess of children, so they will become pregnant

Women may paint baby’s footprints in henna or red paint by a pregnant mother’s door so the child’s soul will know where to come live

Bijani, the fan, symbolize cooling breezes, and are popular in the summer

Lahariya patterns symbolize the rippling water of the monsoon season

A popular pattern to symbolize celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights

One of the patterns drawn to celebrate Holi, the festival of colours
In the Mandana done on wall surface the distinguishing features in its forms are mostly suggestive; there is an unintended effort of simplifying realistic presentation of the Nature elements. The internal filling of the body of the form is textural rather than physiological. 

Simple shapes like squares, circles, triangles and the likes become the alphabets for an exercise in picture writing. The bindu, the point, symbolizes the point from which everything emanates, and into which everything merges. The trikona, a triangle, represents the male and female principles operating in the universe. The chaturkona, a square, represents stability. The panchakona, the pentagon, is the symbol of the five elements, earth, air, fire, water and ether. The satkona, the six-pointed star or hexagram, is the male and female triangle symbols interposed, and is often used to worship the goddess Lakshmi. The ashtakona, octagon, is the symbol of protection, assigned to the god Vishnu. The swastik, is the symbol of four cardinal points, or the cycle of the sun, symbol of Brahma, and good luck, and is frequently depicted in floor decorations. The chakra, or circle, symbolizes life and growth. Paglya, footprints, are a motif frequently drawn in rangoli. They indicate the presence of a deity, most commonly Lakshmi. 

The themes of Mandana are mainly variety of birds, animals and plants, anthropomorphs, zoo-morphs and exquisite decorative designs which are highlighted with dots and dashes. Amongst all these forms, their forte is moradi (peacock) painted in a variety of magnificent styles and shapes. 

This represents the female creative energy
Mandana was also drawn to safeguard that sacred space from the asuras (demons), so that Gods and Goddesses would grace the occasion without fear. It is primarily a non-professional art practiced by the community women in various realms of life which is learned from the elders without any formal training or apprenticeship. This art is functional, no matter whether its objective is to give aesthetic shape to tools and articles of everyday use, or to bolster the ideology of social structures.