11 Aug 2023

Rajasthan: Will Bikaner's Unique 400-Year-Old Usta Art Get New Lease Of Life With GI Tag?

Bikaner: The fame of Usta art and embroidery of Bikaner city in Rajasthan will now spread at the international level. These arts have got Geographical Indication (GI) certification.

District Industries Center Manager Manju Nain Godara said that following the instructions of the District Collector, applications for GI certification for these arts were prepared. For this financial assistance was obtained from NARBAD. After this, Usta Art Sanstha and Kasidakari Art were registered through NGO.

Manju Nain said that GI tag was issued to these arts on August 1, now their certificates will come soon. According to the General Manager of District Industries, those arts which are hundred years old are included for Geographical Indication GI) tag. Usta art and embroidery will givee a distinct identity to Bikaner. After getting the GI tag, the means of employment will also get a boost in this sector. This will be famous at the international market. Also, it will come out of a limited range.

In 1975 there was only one Usta artist left in Bikaner

In 1975, there was only one Usta artist left in Bikaner. The 400-year-old art form involving miniature paintings in gold and bright colours on camel hide, walls and other surfaces, was in the danger of dying out. 

At that time the state government gave it a new lease of life by setting up a training centre in Bikaner where hundreds of students learnt the intricate art. But now, almost half-a-century later, Usta art is once again facing an existential crisis.

In 1975, Hisamuddin Usta was the only artist pursuing Usta. But after the training centre opened, the art was revived. However, 15 years back the government shut down the training centre and the art is again in danger of dying out

A handful of artisan families in Bikaner are still holding the reins of the ancient Usta art that originated in Persia and found its zenith in the city four centuries ago. The most staggering specimens can be found in the city’s Junagadh Fort.

A group of Usta artists came to Bikaner during Mughal period 

During the period of Mughal emperor Akbar, a group of Usta artists came to Bikaner in the royal patronage of Maharaja Rai Singh to perform design work at the famous Junagarh Fort of Bikaner. The craftsmanship and skill of those artists can be seen even today in the Anup Mahal, Phool Mahal and Karan Mahal of Junagarh fort.

Usta art is combination of many different form of arts and techniques

Usta art is a broad term which is the combination of many different form of arts and techniques. In current times, most popular form seen is Sunehri Munawwati Nakkashi work which means gold emboss work. This form of art is performed on walls, ceilings, glass, wood, marble and artifacts made of camel leather. On all the mentioned surfaces, very fine work is performed using best quality material. Sunehri Munawwati Nakkashi work or gold emboss work is completed in many stages. 

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