Tryst with Tholu – the enticing art form from India.

We are a Chhattisgarh (Central India) based start-up making hand painted and hand crafted décor products. We currently work with 7 different folk art forms of India and interestingly, the first art form we started working with was one from Andhra Pradesh (Southern India) – Tholu Bommalata which literally means a dance of leather puppets.

Checkout collection of Tholu art interior decor products on Hasthkala Curators.

Tholu RAM head by Hasthkala Curators

Starting off from scratch we didn’t know where we were headed apart from a vague dream (dreamt by many) of contemporizing Indian folk art such that it finds back its lost lustre. So, travel seemed an inevitable part of the beginning but as luck would have it, we were subjected to a lockdown due to the Corona pandemic. The looming fears of a recession and its associated downturns on the craft market got us to start exploring associations on the internet.

Tholu wall plate from Hasthkala Curators

We were delighted to get in touch with a young, vibrant Tholu Bommalata artist who, though not perfect in the art, was keen to experiment and was bubbling with energy which didn’t seem channelized! He introduced us to the art and narrated tales of how his forefathers were all artists and stalwarts in preserving this artform. Sometimes, its not the art alone but the enthusiasm behind it which draws you to it. Just like in a rock concert, sometimes, one is driven by the expressions of the guitarist more than the chords that he pulls!

We were certain we wanted to start our own product line and he wasn’t sure if he would be able to paint on any other material apart from leather. So, initially to build a rapport we started selling his traditional leather lamps and that got us talking! We were desperate to experiment on our hallmark product – the Ram head (or Deer head). He kept denying till 2 weeks and then he agreed to try out just 2 pieces with the disclaimer that if these two get spoilt we wont charge him for the raw material. 😊 We gladly agreed and then there was no looking back! Ram heads (Deer heads), wooden wall plates and other wooden wall accents & decor…all hand painted in traditional Tholu Bommalata style by him, his father (a state awardee), his uncle (a national awardee) and a whole bevy of his cousins. We have also expanded our reach to other artists from the same village who work gladly on wood with acrylic colours. We were amazed by the welcoming response we got for these products in the market – albeit corona aftermath, slowdown, salary cuts and no exhibitions. For these artists it was wages and for us pure happiness!

Checkout most fascinating Indian art forms.

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