On the occasion of veteran artist Zainul Abedin's 102nd birthday, on the eve of New Year 2017, 'Zainul Utsab' was celebrated to promote the cultural and local art forms of Bangladesh from 29th to 31st December 2016 at Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka.
More than 20 representatives displayed their mesmerizing artistic creations in this art carnival. This carnival embedded unique and exquisite art forms that Bangladesh treasures from its hidden treasuries of rural areas such as Rangpur, Rajshahi, Comilla, Jasore, Dhaka, Sylhet, and many others.
Sheetal paati & Nakhsi Katha:
Processed fiber of the 'mutra' plant entangled in synchronized harmony in the form of a carpet creates a masterpiece called 'Sheetal paati'. The carnival showcased their Sheetal Paati art for art-buffs. On the other hand, as multicolored threads run through a mono colour canvas of cloth, they tell stories of Bengal with their magnificent patterns. This play of different stitches is known by the name of 'Nakshi Katha'. Talented hand stitchers use the stitching fords such as 'cross', 'carpet', 'shujani', and 'lohori' to fill their vacant canvases with colourful stories.
Abound 6 artisans of 'mrithshilpo' or pottery handicrafts known as 'taapa putul' from the Barisal, Patuakhali, Rajshahi participated in this mela (fair) with their local heritage. Most of them have been crafting 'taapa putul' in shapes of dolls, horses with wheels and elephants, 'dhoopdani', and lot more from generations now.
Traditional art forms of Puraan Dhaka (Old Town):
Everybody is aware of the inevitable form of transport, the "rickshaw" and artist Rakibul Islam has been decorating this vehicle with his painting for the last 30 years.
Encrypted decoration pieces and ornaments made of 'Shankha' or conch shell captivates every eye in this carnival. The masterpieces are mostly contribution of artisans living in Shakhari Bazar in Puraan Dhaka.
The 'shola shilpis' turn "shola" plants (a plant growing in paddy fields and other aquatic landmasses) into beautiful show pieces. They use the stem and root of this plant and turn them into shapes of "golap" (roses), "beli" (jasmine) and "kodom" along with animals like birds, crocodiles and horses using different types of knifes. Around 4 artisans or shola shilpis from Jhinaidah (Jessore) and Shotopara (Magura) exhibited their art in this 'utsab'.
Dhatob and Daaru shilpo:
Glistening alloy of copper and bronze known as "kasha" and "peetal" were turned into glamourous exclusivities by artisans of Comilla. To add glamour, wood craftsmen Narayanganj graced this fiesta with beautifully crafted wooden dolls, horses, elephants and many more.
Handloom and woven handicrafts:
Focusing on looms, the 'Sathronji' carpers from Rangpur and the woven strolls of the 'Marma' ethnicity were beautiful. 'Sathronji' is a form of a carper made by weaving pure cotton threads that are dyed with organic colours in handloom.
On the other hand, the 'Marma' women from Rangamati in Chittagong brought in beautiful 'thaami' (skirts) and stroll woven in their waist loom using colourful cotton threads. 'Nakshi paakhas' or handwoven small handfans were brought in by the women of Narayanganj.
Eyes stood still and the heart went static when the extinct traditional handicraft 'shokher haari' came across. The beautifully painted clay pots sitting one on the other shoulders seemed like a tower of colours complementing each other for their beauties.
Along with all these talented local artists and craftsmen, the students, and professors of Fine Arts also put up their works for sale. Works of Renowned artists such as Shomorjit Rai Chowdhury and Nemai Huq along with sculptures of Mukul Kumar Baroi and Kawsar Hossain Kodom were displayed.
When asked about this carnival, student Md Shahabuddin Shek said, "There are three major aspect of life: education, culture and economy. And art contribute in all these sectors". Zainul Abedin founded Charukola (Academy of Fine Arts) and made art a part of the busy city life and today this country still celebrates art with him every year on his birthday.
The writer is schooling with
Notre Dame University Bangladesh
Photo: Rifat Bin Ahsan