- Sanjhi art involves creating intricate paper stencils that depict various episodes from the life of Lord Krishna.
- These days the craftsmen are applying their skill to cut tiny bindis,stickers worns on the forehead,and secular images for the tourists
(IIP) -THE SANJHI OF Mathura is a ritual craft in which paper stencils of scenes from Lord Krishna`s life are cut freehand using scissors or a blade.The delicate sanjhi is often just held together by thin strands of paper.The stencils are used to create rangolis,powder transfer,on the ground and on water.These days the craftsmen are applying their skill to cut tiny bindis,stickers worns on the forehead,and secular images for the tourists.
As the folk lore has it, to enthral Lord Krishna Gopis created beautiful rangolis (i.e., floor decorations) using colourful flowers, stones, shells, mirrors, and paper stencils. This art of hand-cutting paper stencils for these rangolis is known as Sanjhi. In the 17th century, Sanjhi became a temple tradition, and was used by priests and devotees to decorate temples. And ever since, the Sanjhis came to reflect the essence of the beauty of relationship that the devotees share with their “Thakurjee”, Lord Krishna.
Sanjhis are originally images of Sanjhi Devi made in relief on a mud wall using fresh flowers,coloured stones,foil and mirrors.Sanjhis are still made throughout the plains of North India.Mathura;s Sanjhis,however,have become delicate rangoli stencils depicting Krishna.If the sanjhi is a multicoloured rangoli,the main design is divided into a number of subsidiary chaskas,cutouts.The art has been hereditary and the craftsmen live near the Krishna Temple in Mathura.
Sanjhi art involves creating intricate paper stencils that depict various episodes from the life of Lord Krishna. The scene/motif is first stamped or drawn on the paper and then are hand-cut using special scissors. With dexterous skills, the artisans not only capture the physical state of the scene but also ensure to depict emotions through the eyes and smiles of the characters being cut. The stencils are then used to make rangolis with vibrant colours.
With changing time and preferences, the craft’s focus has now shifted from floor decoration to the stencils themselves. Now the word “Sancha” will have the right resonance with the art form as the word Sancha literally means a mould that can create a precise impression. While the original Sanjhi was used to make the final image with colours and flowers, Sancha makes the picture with the play of light rather than colours. The shift from Sanjhi to Sancha is indicative of the change of the art-form from colour to light.
These intricately hand-cut stencils are now being used as decorative pieces, designer bindis, window partitions, lampshades, coasters, etc., in an attempt to keep the art form alive. Also, from being the colourful imagery of the Ras Leela the motifs/designs have shifted to Mughal designs such as jaalis (lattice work).
Recently, some efforts have been made to bring the art to the forefront. For example, Sanjhi has been used in designing the pictograms for the Commonwealth Games -2010. Also, in the same year, a 26 m by 11 m Sanjhi chandelier was used during the Pratham Fundraiser in London.
Despite these efforts, today, many remain unaware about Sanjhi. This captivating art-form is unable to make its mark as one of the finest art forms of India. Sincere and rigorous effort to preserve and publicize this craft is the need of the hour.