Arts and crafts of Karnataka are marvellous creations & it reveals the royal delicacy and the expertize and efficiency of the craftsmen. The arts and crafts of Karnataka is traditional. They have evolved through ages from one generation to another. If you ever visit a handicraft village in the state of Karnataka, you will be stunned at the sight of the villagers who always sit in groups and enjoy their work. The arts and crafts of Karnataka lie even in the articles of day to day use like an earthen pot and includes the works on various objects such as woods, ivory, stones, sandalwood and metal. One of the crafts which catches one’s eye originating from Karnataka is Kinnal art from Koppal district.
Many arts and crafts were born in Vijayanagara era. Kinnal craft is one of the crafts encouraged by the king during 15th and 16th century. “Chitrgar” is the community involved in this work. After the decline of the empire, Chitragar (Artist) communities migrated to places like Kinnal, Kanakgiri and Ananthpur, and were supported by the Nawab of Koppal, the Desais of Kinnal and the Nawabs of Hyderabad helped to develop the craft. Later the craft got famous from Kinnal and named as Kinnal craft.
Kinnal or Kinhal as commonly known is a small town in the Koppal District of North Karnataka. It is like any other village but for the fact that it dates back to the 13th century era of Great Vijayanagara Empire where the first forms of Kinnal art was practiced, makes it remarkably unique.
Krishna Deva Raya ruled from 1509-1529 CE, and the empire lasted until 1646, when it was conquered by the Deccani Sultans of Bijapur and Golkonda. The empire's patronage enabled its arts, crafts and literature to rise to new heights, and its legacy of sculpture, painting, and architecture influenced the development of the arts in south India long after the empire came to an end. There were great innovations in Hindu temple construction during this period, and many diverse temple-building traditions and styles in south India came together in the Vijayanagar style of architecture, the finest examples of which are to be found in the famed Hampi ruins. The famous mural paintings in the Pampapateshwara temple, and the intricate work on the wooden chariot at Hampi, the wooden statues of Shiva and Parvathi at Virupaksha temple are said to be the work of the ancestors of the Kinnal artisans of today. Old paper tracings found in the ancestral house of one of the artisans further substantiates this belief. When patronage of the rich landed gentry was lost, the Kinnal artists were further impoverished. The artisans migrated to Kinnal village after the fall of the empire and the art identified itself with the village.
Kinnal craft is highly decorative and follows the specific iconography used in religious chariots and known for its intricate design of household furniture like stools, cradles and plaques. The beautiful designs and patterns on wall mounts, dolls, cradles and swings are breath-taking. The artists depict scenes from myths through their dexterity.
The artisans are called chitragara. Lightweight wood is used for the toys. The paste used for the joining the various parts is made of tamarind seeds and pebbles. Jute rags, soaked, slivered into pieces, dried, powdered, and mixed with saw dust and tamarind seed paste, is made into kitta, a mixture of pebble powder paste with liquid gum, used for embossing the ornamentation and jewellery on the body of the figure. Once the components of the figure are assembled, kitta is applied by hand all over, and small pieces of cotton are stuck on it with the tamarind paste. After this is applied, the pebble paste forms the base for the application of paint. After the final touches are done, the craft makes its way to various exhibitions, festivals, village fairs, art galleries or to the homes of art lovers. The craft survives because Kinnal wall hangings and showpieces are popular.
Kinnal craft is traditionally seen in temple chariot decorations and has found its place in many temples of Karnataka. This craft has recently been encouraged by the government by granting it the status of geographic indication.
Kinnal painting is culturally rich and is hand-painted on the wooden frames with colourful emboss which are used in temples and house decoration. Kinnal craft has rich artistic heritage practiced, which is also known as Chowki work. Chowki work is one of the art works that was popularized during the Vishwa Kannada Sammelana in 1985. The craft is mainly done on wood, depicting the figures of Gods, Goddesses, birds and animals in the center of wooden piece. The work includes embossing (gesso) work with magnificent colours. These craft also have exquisite carvings on wood representing local folk cultures. The art can easily be differentiated from other forms of arts by its intricate design. The craft is done by both men and women artisans.
As the craft is not very popular among the youth currently, the artisans of Kinnal craft are conducting many workshops and training sessions to teach and educate other young artisans to take forward the art innovatively.