We travelled into the interiors of Kutch and the walls of the mud houses that we saw all had beautiful murals on the exterior. This art of wall decor embedded with mirrors is called lippankaam. Lippankaam is the traditional way of decorating homes using mirrors and three dimensional designs. Not just walls, but also cupboards, large grain containers and other household objects are decorated with lippankaam.
Lippan artists are mostly Rabaari women. Rabaaris are a pastoral community and they live in circular mud houses with conical thatched roofs called bhungas. In the harsh weather of Kutch, these mud houses successfully keep out the heat. These women who are wall art experts are usually invited by families to make these designs in people’s homes. Some women don’t even require to trace the outline of these designs and work directly on the walls. The craft has passed on to women from their grandmothers, mothers or mothers-in-law.
Lippan work designs are created out of locally available material such as clay, manure of the horse, camel or wild ass, cow dung, husk of millets and plant gum. Use of husk avoids termite attacks. Embellished mirrors in these designs simply add to the elegance of these designs. The mirrors called aabhla can be round, triangular or diamond shaped. Most of these motifs are restricted to geometric designs as is seen in the Kutch embroidery, though you can see motifs such as the peacock, camel or elephant sometimes. In some Muslim communities drawing human and animal shapes is considered un-Islamic. The white colour comes from the white sand of the salt marsh in this region. While traditionally these designs have been all white in colour, recently contemporary artists have begun using colours.
There is so much to discover about the arts and crafts of Kutch. Follow this blog. I have much to tell you about our hidden heritage.