Aipan: Ritualistic Folk Art of Kumaon

Traditions from Uttarakhand

Project FUEL

In collaboration with Uttarakhand Handloom and Handicraft Development Council

Aipan is a ritualistic folk art, native to the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. It is drawn to commemorate auspicious occasions, festivals and even rituals performed during death of a person. The art form is also known to offer protection against evil. While earlier, the art form was found on the floors and walls of the houses, today it has marked its presence in many daily use objects or clothing pieces.

A brief history of Aipan art form (2018/2018) by Project FUELProject FUEL

The practice of Aipan flourished during the rule of Chand dynasty in Kumaon. It originated in Almora, and has slowly found its way in many parts of the state, with the migration of communities practicing the art form.

Technique to draw Aipan (2018/2018) by Project FUELProject FUEL

Aipan is drawn on a smooth surface that is prepared using wet ochre mud, known as geru, which is red in colour.

A white paste is made by grounding cooked rice in water. This paste is known as bisvar and is used to draw patterns on the surface.

The women use their fore, ring and middle finger to draw the patterns.

Significance of Aipan (2018/2018) by Project FUELProject FUEL

The art form is made by women, and the knowledge is passed on through the generations from mothers to daughters.

The creation of an Aipan begins and ends with a dot. The dot, which is placed in the center, symbolizes the center of the universe. From this center, all other lines and patterns emerge which indicate the shifting form of the world around it.

Symbolism of Aipan motifs (2018/2018) by Project FUELProject FUEL

The motifs and designs are inspired by the religious beliefs of the community and the natural resources around them. They generally include conch shells, creepers, floral patterns, swastika, footsteps of goddess, geometric designs and figures of gods and goddesses.

The linear lines drawn in Aipan are symbolic to the ritual or festival it is drawn for.

Namita Tiwari (2018/2018) by Project FUELProject FUEL

Namita Tiwari is an award winning Aipan practitioner. She is at the forefront of reviving the art form. In 2015, she founded Cheli Aipan, where she teaches young women the art of drawing Aipan.

Bringing Aipan to contemporary products (2018/2018) by Project FUELProject FUEL

With the encouragement of her mother and her friend, Kiran Shah, Namita has been practicing Aipan since the last 18 years. She has helped in devising new ways of showcasing the art, like borders of a sari, traditional woolen caps, to stationary items like pen holders.

Aipan artisan, Namita Tiwari (2018/2018) by Project FUELProject FUEL

She wants to carry the legacy of this traditional art forms and encourages her students to see its values and their cultural identity. Her life lesson is ‘One must earnestly believe in their work’.

Aipan art form of Kumaon, Project FUEL, 2018/2018, From the collection of: Project FUEL
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In this video, Aipan artisan Namita Tiwari talks about the traditional Kumaoni art, what it signifies, and how with her hard work and efforts, she is encouraging the popularity of the art form.  

Credits: Story

'Homespun in Uttarakhand' is an episodic series that features life lessons of seven master artisans of Uttarakhand, their personal stories and their passion celebrating the unrecognised & dying craft practices, which need preservation.

Presented by Project FUEL, in collaboration with Uttarakhand Handloom and Handicraft Development Council (UHHDC)

Director: Ajitesh Sharma
Director of Photography: Udit Khurana
Music: Sameer Rahat
Editor: Tushar Madhav
Producer: Apoorva Bakshi
Creative Producer: Deepak Ramola
Sound Design and Mix: Teja Asgk
Colorist: Shara Sethna
Project Manager: Neha Gupta
Research: Project FUEL

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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