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Kutchi Lippan, an Innovative Art of Transforming Mud into Lively Murals

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Kutchi Lippan, Lippan Kaam or Mud Mirror Art, call it whatever you want, for an aesthete, it remains an innovative craft from Gujarat’s Kutch district that can transform inert, lifeless mud into absolutely vibrant and jovial murals. If you have ever travelled this stretch of India, then you must be familiar with the artistic embrace that awaits you. There is a cluster of beautifully decorated homes, each with their own tale to tell. Their intricately designed and coloured interiors are evident enough of the skill-set that Kutch artisans have.

Before we go on to showcase some extraordinarily stunning piece of this art form, let’s have a brief insight on Kutchi Lippan.

What exactly It is?

Lippan, or technically called as mud-washing, is the use of locally available materials that is mostly used to keep interiors of houses cool. In Kutchi Lippan, a Kutch artisan typically uses the mixture of clay and camel dung. This helps to keep interiors cool in the otherwise harsh climate of Kutch. While its use is mostly limited to interiors, some artisans prefer to decorate their outer walls too.

A mud work design by one of the artists at Mytr
A mud work design by one of the artists at Mytr
Lippan Work Design

Have a look at some more exquisite Lippan works of the artists on Mytr- Kutchi Lippan Artworks

Words are that this mural craft goes way back in history because of which it becomes difficult to trace its origin. Though basics of creating mud murals with Lippan Kaam remain the same, in more recent times, this art form has developed its own varieties owing to the different communities inhabiting the region. Each community has given this art form its own distinct style.

Artisans belonging to Islamic community are known for their appealing geometric patterns with neat finishing, while non-Islamic communities mostly stick to depictions of animal and human figures. But that doesn’t stop artisans from experimenting with their creativity, and they often find joy in trying each other’s work and style.

However, the credit for skilled artistry in Lippan Kaam is usually attributed to women of the Rabari community, Kutch’s pastoral community that is mostly confined to the outskirts. It is said that Rabari women are so skilled and experienced that they generally do not need to trace or draw patterns beforehand.

A scene in the life of Kutch village
A scene in the life of Kutch village
Lippan Work in form of painting

Outlook of Lippan Kaam in Modern Art World

Lippan Kaam has swiftly made its way into the world of modern art, thanks to its array of elaborated patterns and aesthetic appeal. Adding to its perfection is the use of natural materials and dazzling effect caused by sparkling mirror pieces. It has rose to prominence in the mainstream art world and has come a long way from being a mere rural art form from the land of Gujarat to a thriving artwork.

Various artisans are now joining the bandwagon of transitioning Kutchi Lippan from interiors of Kutch to walls of urban residences. Although it’s not possible to craft murals with traditional techniques for urban residences, artisans use MDF board along with craft clay (as and when needed), sawdust and chalk powder. Working with MDF board, however, takes neater finishing and thus, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

If you are a fan of Bollywood, then you must remember the movie Refugee which was mostly shot in Kutch. The movie had few scenes that show beautiful Lippan artwork in the background.

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A still from Refugee movie with Kutchi Lippan work in the background

That’s a pretty good example of how it has penetrated and trended in the field of modern interior as well as exterior décor style. From movies to urban houses, organizations to foundations, Kutchi Lippan has certainly made a huge impact in the art industry.

Lippan Artisans on board with Mytr

Over last couple of years, Mytr’s team has toured, researched and connected with several Lippan artisans, but there are two in particular whose competence and dexterity has won everyone’s hearts — Rashid Khan and Mital Shah.

Both the artisans are brimming with creativity and their polished works are display of their mastery over it. Rashid Khan is older, more experienced and his perfectly finished works clearly portrays his command while Mital’s passion on the other hand is equally commendable. He has been in this field since last eight years and has gained a firm grip over the art and its techniques.

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Artisan Rashid Khan with current PM Narendra Modi

Author — Tuhina Neogi Das

Originally published at https://mytr.in.

A Startup India recognised company, working towards artisan empowerment and preserving art forms. Dedicated to art, nature and community. https://social.mytr.in

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