Art has been around since the begining of time and many have become lost art forms in today’s time. The dimension of art ranges through a wide variety of art forms such as Painting, music, dance, literature, photography, cooking, architecture, filmmaking, etc. Every art form has lost something due to rapid urbanization and modernization in India. As urbanization push cultural changes across India, many traditional art forms are disappearing and losing its heritage due to lack of interest and India had always been known as the land brimming with cultural and traditional values through its conventional arts and crafts.
Not only does each region of India has a different style and pattern of art (known as folk art), but we can also find various lost art forms from each corners. Each art form, carrying its history and cultural significance, has a beauty of its own.
Here is a list of such Lost art forms that are being lost in today’s modern world:
The lost Arts and crafts of India
Many traditional art and crafts of India are on the verge of oblivion due to the technological developments. The lost (lost) Arts and crafts of India include Dokra art, Warli painting, Manjusha painting, Santhal painting, handloom weaving, kalamkari, Madhubani paintings and more.
This ancient art form hailing from Bihar, Bhagalpur was flourished heartily during British rule in India. Manjusha is believed to be the only Indian art form which is displayed in series.
Each series has a sequential representation of the story. It is mainly a scroll painting and a line drawing art. The local community that has been practising this art from the 7th century, is now struggling to keep it alive.
It is the earliest known method of using the wax casting technique, which is now nearly lost. This sort of metal casting has been used in India for over 4,000 years. One of the earliest and most famous specimens of the Dokra art is the Dancing Girl of Mohenjo-Daro.
These products have been in great demand and have worldwide recognition. As the number of artisans/tribals practising this art is dwindling, soon we may lose this style of art.
This ancient art believed to have originated in the 10th century. It is exclusively known for its primitive design and use of only two colours. Originally Warli paintings were used to decorate walls of the mud houses during special occasions like harvest and weddings.
The artisans used rice paste with natural glue to make the white colour which is used as paint on the austere brown mud walls to form a striking contrast. The painting is now available on paper, clothes and other forms as well since it got a revival kick a few years back.
Santhal paintings :
Santhal paintings are drawn by a special community called Jadu patua or magic painters in the Santhal paragana on the border of Bihar and West Bengal. It can truly be considered as a lost art due to its regional confinement. It was used for joyous times whether its harvest, wedding or finding joy in daily activities. Though it hailed in the pre-Aryan period, the Santhal paintings are interestingly modern human figures design.
The figures are dramatic yet symmetrical and realistic. The painters use handmade paper which is sometimes backed by cloth-based canvas. Natural vegetable-based colours are used for paint as seen in most tribal paintings. Santhal paintings are exceptional but sadly becoming increasingly rare due to the lack of interest.
Parsi embroidery has nearly become extinct because of the declining Parsi community and mass production of readily available clothes. It has been a part of India’s diverse textile heritage. During the Bronze Age, this art form originated in Iran and slowly it drew influences from European, Chinese, Persian and Indian culture.
The saris that depict Parsi embroidery are known as ‘Parsi Gara Saris’ and each piece takes about 9 months to complete.
India has a heritage of handloom weaving but this handicraft is dying a slow death because of technical developments. Kalamkari is one of those well-known handloom textile arts.
It originally used to be practised in Andhra Pradesh as well as in many different regions of India. There are two distinctive styles of kalamkari art in India, Srikalahasti style and Machilipatnam style. This art form is one of the lost arts of India; designers are trying to bring it back in the modern era.
Puppetry has been the major source of traditional entertainment since ancient times. The art of puppetry is found in different regions with different names. The puppetry was a very popular form of narrative theatre. The most famous form of Indian puppetry has to be “Kathputli”, the Rajasthani puppets.
Indian puppetry involves string puppets, shadow puppets, rod puppets and glove puppets. Puppetry is getting lost in the hands of the increasing popularity of television and movies. A Bengali puppet theatre, named Calcutta Puppet theatre which is an institute formed in 1973, is trying hard to keep this art form alive.
Though the origins of this art form can be traced back to Persia, the home of this art form is definitely the Kutch district of Gujarat. Rogan painting is done on a cloth. The colours applied on cloth are made by adding vegetable pigments to castor oil.
Rogan painting is nearly a lost art, as its being practised by only 6 surviving people of Khatri family in India right now.
Every Year Surajkund Mela showcases India’s native art and crafts. There you can find many lost art forms. DArtisians ventured to the mela in 2020. Watch us on YouTube.
Dying art of Indian classical music
Today’s tech-savvy generation is so engrossed in listening to hip-hop and rock music that we are observing a decline in the popularity of Indian classical music. When was the last time you enjoyed classical Indian music in your leisure time?
Originated in the Vedic era, Classical Indian music has two branches – North Indian classical or Hindustani music, and South Indian classical or Carnatic music. In the modern period, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Pandit Kumar Gandharva are renowned as Hindustani classical singers, while Dr Balamuralikrishna and M S Subbulakshmi are well-known Carnatic Musicians. Other worthy proponents include Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pt Ravi Shankar, and Pt Zakir Hussain, who took instrumental music to another level.
The influence of westernisation has upgraded the Indian music industry in terms of instruments, techniques and other aesthetics. In this modern era, we’ve managed to preserve our legendary musical skills of our forefathers like Tabla, Sitar, Bansuri and other well-known instruments that are still passed down the generation of musicians. But there are few instruments which knowingly or unknowingly are losing their existence in people’s heart. These lost arts are our heritage and reviving them is a real need.
DArtisians wants to draw attention towards these ancient instruments and as Indians, we should preserve our heritage.
This single string melodic instrument was extremely popular in Indian Baul songs. Baul songs are at present brought to limelight due to its incorporation in modern songs such as Moner Manush- Coke Studio. Ektara is generally played by the index finger.
It is one of the most established melodic instruments utilized as a part of conventional music from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Egypt.
Another instrument losing its charm is Pungi or been. Remember the snake charmers who play a wind instrument in front of the snake to control it?
That instrument is known as Pungi/been. Earlier it was quite popular as a street music.
The Manjira originated in ancient south India. It contains 2 bronze or metallic lids tied up at the end of a single string making high pitch percussive sound when struck together.
According to mythology, the mystical sound of Manjira is believed to have mesmerizing healing power for your brain. This lost art has become limited to only Kirtans.
The only ancient instrument, where water is used to tune the melody by just striking the edge of water-filled earthenware bowls. A sweet rhythm that makes you fall in love with music is, unfortunately, today played by only 4 or 5 prominent artists. This echoing sound is falling into oblivion due to the lack of enthusiasm in learners.
Well, there is an ongoing debate that classical Indian music is not dying. But, is it really not a lost art? It is argued that shows like coke studio, bands like the Indian Ocean are promoting classical music and are trying hard to keep it alive. But the music we listen to on such shows is usually the fusion and not the exquisite one. The fusion of western and classical music is more appealing to the younger generation. It is evident that the Indian classical music is losing its originality, but kept alive only in the form of fusions. It is not the classical music that will die but it is the ‘classic’ nature of the classical music which may drift away soon.
The Lost art forms of Indian traditional dance forms
Dance in India has a history of around 2000 years. With the rapid modernization, the Indian dance industry has upgraded as well. Today people are more inclined to learn western dance forms. While the Indian traditional dance forms have been evolving through the years, recently some traditional dance forms have been subjected to decline.
Even though we take colossal pride in the rich melodic legacy of our nation, there are a few dance forms both folk and classical that are either lost to time or are at the verge of oblivion.
Here we have collected 7 ancient dance styles in India that are losing their place in people’s heart.
Chhau is a form of masked dance performed by a troop comprising of 10-25 dancers. The troop of chhau dancers also carry a large number of musical instruments. This typical dance form was most popular in eastern India. We’re sure you all must have seen this dance form in movies or travel shows.
Chhau dancers are dressed in colourful and glittery dresses and their faces are covered with huge masks. These costumes add life to the stories that are performed through Chhau dance. Chhau dancers enact Indian mythological stories from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Puranas and the Rig Veda, focusing on the lesser-known subplots in these ancient tales. Purulia Chhau is the most famous chhau dance till now. But unfortunately, this dance form is gradually becoming extinct.
Originated from Kerala, Mohiniyattam is among the most graceful classical dance forms in India.
This dance form gets its name from the word “Mohini” –a mythical enchantress avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, who helps the good prevail over evil by developing her feminine powers. This dance form was ridiculed as a devadasi prostitution system during the colonial British rule. It was gaining popularity in the early 90s but eventually lost its mojo.
This dance form depicts the rich culture and heritage of Manipur in the best of ways. On the contrary, as much as it is loved by the people in Manipur and northeast parts of India, it is not mostly known or performed in other parts of the country.
Kathakali, the 300-year-old classical dance form of Kerala is based on folk mythologies, religious legends and spiritual ideas from the Hindu epics and Puranas.
This dance form includes a heavy costume and elaborate makeup. Today people do not keep on learning this dance form due to lack of enthusiasm.
This is a dance from Rajasthan performed by the tribe Kalbelia. But it has lost its popularity now and only seen performed at some luxury hotels in Rajasthan.
This dance form was recognized by UNESCO and it’s a part of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in India.
This Sanskrit theatre dance form which is practised in the province of Kerala, is one of India’s oldest living theatrical traditions. It is probably not even heard of by a majority of Indians.
This dance from the Dravidian era is recognized by UNESCO but is losing its charm amongst people in the modern era.
Kuchipudi is the classical dance form originated in the south-east Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Almost all of us have heard of this dance form at some point in time. However, the popularity has stayed there till now but not in other parts of the country.
It is known for its graceful movements and its strong narrative or dramatic character.
Of course, the popular forms of Art will gather more eyeballs be it paintings, dance, music or any other forms of art, but we can do our bit to encourage artists who can hold on to the legacy and try to nurture the art forms being passed on from generations. Funds, documentation, national recognition only can save these traditional art forms from becoming extinct soon.
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