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Sanjhi Art of Mathura in Uttar Pradesh : The Art Of Hand Cut Paper Designs

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sanjhi art

Sanjhi is the ancient art of paper stencilling practised across Mathura and Vrindavan. It was traditionally used to make ritualistic and ceremonial rangolis in temples dedicated to Lord Krishna. The term Sanjhi is derived from Sanjh or dusk. It is related to the ritualistic practice of unveiling the rangoli in the temples with chanting at dusk.

110 Sanjhi Art ideas | art, indian art, paper art

Sanjhi is the ancient art of paper stencilling practised across Mathura and Vrindavan. It was traditionally used to make ritualistic and ceremonial rangolis in temples dedicated to Lord Krishna. The term Sanjhi is derived from Sanjh or dusk. It is related to the ritualistic practice of unveiling the rangoli in the temples with chanting at dusk.

Sanjhi Art By Unknown Artist

Sanjhi Art By Unknown Artist

The beauty of Sanjhi lies in its delicate designs and elaborate picture motifs. Most of the designs are compositions narrating tales related to Krishna. The craftsmen use small fine custom-made scissors to cut the stencils and then use the stencil to create the images. The rangolis were made using coloured pigments, flowers or stones. Some craftsmen also practised Sanjhi during the Mughal era, but in entirely different themes.

13 Sanjhi Art ideas | art, feelings and emotions, north indian

In olden times, the stencils were made using rough paper or banana leaves but contemporary artisans have started creating artworks using handmade and recycled paper. Traditionally, the stencil was used to create the only rangolis, but gradually the stencils caught the interest of the patrons. Now, the stencil is considered at par with the final decoration. The cutouts are available as framed artworks as well.

48 Sanjhi-art ideas | art, indian art, paper art

Sanjhi paper cuts have also found a place in the market in various forms. The stencils are used to create bindis, textile patterns and henna designs.The stencils are also used extensively in home décor and utilitarian objects such as trays, coasters, lampshades, mirrors, wall hangings and window partitions. Sanjhi motifs have gained popularity with fashion designers and architects as well.It is interesting to know that most craftsmen create a perfectly balanced composition freehand without any practice sketches or drawings. The cut-outs, though created in a short span require years of practice, skill and patience. Sanjhi is a wonderful example of the legacy of skilled Indian craftsmanship which requires limited resources. 

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Sanjhi Art Painting
Sanjhi painting is a tradition of art that originated out of the cult of Krishna and flourished in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is in Vraja, or Vrindavan, the homeland of Lord Sri Krishna, that this art of Sanjhi painting reached its pinnacle.

Sanjhi Art | Abstract pencil drawings, Fabric paint designs, Silhouette art


This art painting is rooted in the folk culture of the region. It was taken to its glory by the Vaishnava temples in the 15 th and 16 th century. Sanjhi came to be regarded as a highly refined art form practiced by the Brahmin priests. Presently, the art of Sanjhi painting is practiced by only a select few and remains a living tradition only in some of the temples of India. One of these temples where Sanjhi painting still survives is the Radharamana temple of Vrindavan. According to mythology, Radha, Krishna’s beloved, used to paint her walls with Sanjhi art to attract her beloved’s attention. She used colored stones, metal foils and flowers to paint her freshly plastered cow dung walls. Seeing her, other Gopis of Vrindavan also started painting walls with Sanjhi art to attract Krishna. ‘Sanjhi’ is a word derived from words like “Sajja’, “Shringar’ and “Sajavat” which all means ‘decoration’. Sanjhi paintings are made at a particular time in the year for the pleasure of Krishna’s eyes.

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Sanjhi Traditional Art of Mathura in Uttar Pradesh

THE ART OF HAND CUTTING (OR STENCIL CUTTING) DESIGNS ON PAPER, IS TYPICAL ART OF MATHURA IN UTTAR PRADESH

SIGNIFICANCE AND HISTORY:

The word ‘Sanjhi’ comes from the Hindi term ‘Sandhya’ that means dusk, the moment of time which is related with the creation of different types of arts. Sanjhi is a special type of art of stencil or hand cutting designs on paper. It is a traditional art of Mathura in Uttar Pradesh that is known to be the abode of Lord Krishna.

The Sandalwood Box: Sanjhi Art

The Temples of the Vaishnavas show glimpses of such a folk art and reveals that it was practised by them in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Later it became an advanced form of art by the Brahmin priests.

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There is a folk tale related to the origination of this art of paper cutting. ‘Radha’ known to the lover of Lord Krishna made Rangolis by the use of natural colours. She also used stones of different colours, flowers and leaves to make such designs in order to draw the attention of Lord Krishna. The other Gopis also started to follow Radha and made complicated patterns by using different items to impress Lord Krishna.

Sanjhi Art by Artisan Ashutosh Verma from Uttar Pradesh, India

Later, in the Mughal period this work of art showed it influence in making of the lattice designs.

There was a time when it was practiced by the people of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan but nowadays it is only restricted to Mathura or ‘Vraja’, the holy place of Lord Krishna.

Sanjhi Art by Artisan Ashutosh Verma from Uttar Pradesh, India

THE ART OF SANJHI:

First of all drawing of the design or pattern is done on a paper to create a Sanjhi. The papers are joined together by using pins if there is any requisition of more copies.

The Sandalwood Box: Sanjhi Art

Secondly, the cutting of the Sanjhi is done by using scissors of very fine quality that are somewhat curved at one point to ensure a meticulous cutting. The paper is turned around while cutting in order to get the design intact (the edges of the scissors are protected by wrapping it in a cloth and also as a mark of reverence to device).

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Folding at the corners of the papers is done by the artists in order to help them in lifting it up after the colour has been applied.

The paper cuttings are place in a widened plain surface and different types of colours are filled in them. The colours can be substituted by coloured stones, fresh flowers, mirror pieces and metal foil, etc.

After completion of the filling work the lifting of the Sanjhi takes place that the artists do by holding their breath so that the pattern doesn’t get disturbed anyhow.

RITUALISTIC ART:

The designs of Sanjhi are used in the veneration of Lord Krishna as a ritual. The artists begin the work after prayers are being offered to their respective tools, the deities and their respective teachers by whom they were being taught such an art. The cutting of complicated patterns is done that depict the panorama of Lord Krishna. The cutting process requires huge attention and talent from the artists. These special designs are decorated in temples or places where the worship of Lord Krishna takes place during the festivals related to him. At the time of offering prayers to Lord Krishna in the evening of the festivals, the Sanjhi’s are uncovered and are accompanied by the recitation of various legends that are related to him.

In northern India these patterns were cut in the banana leaves and paper for the colourful powders that were to be induced to adorn the patio of the internal sanctum.

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Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Though academically trained in modern Western Sciences, Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar is a crazy maniac of India's ageless, timeless ethnic arts, crafts & textiles. The rich & glorious cultural & spiritual heritage of India is a subject extremely dear to her heart, and the whole of this Blog has been dedicated to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide, to every nook & corner of the globe, through these simple Blog-posts. Any constructive criticisms & suggestions in this regard for improvement of the Blog 'MOST WELCOME'. Also, High-Quality Guest Blog-posts 'MOST WELCOME". LinkedIn Profile : https://in.linkedin.com/in/mala-chandrashekhar-04095917a

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