Tripura, one of the seven northeastern sister states of India, is known as the hub for cane and bamboo crafts. Its unique topography and the bounties of nature make cane, bamboo, and wood plentiful in the area. Because of the abundance, the skilled artisans turn these bamboo and cane into distinctive art forms, such as furniture, fashion accessories, decorations, utensils, etc. Made completely from hands, these elaborate crafts are stunning. One of the most popular picks from these is the bamboo or cane mesh with leather appliqué.
Bamboo mesh is handmade separately. It is sold by the meter in Tripura. Its price depends upon the fineness of splits, the width of the mat, and the color of the thread. Some of the finest quality bamboo meshes go into the creation of the leather appliqué wall or door hangings.
The beauty of leather appliqué on cane mesh reconfirms the faith in the immortality of art. Hindu deities and sceneries are the key themes. The faces of Lord Shiva, Durga, and Krishna are the special favorites of the artists. The bold colors and pattern ensure a contemporary design that looks at home in even a modern setting. The vibrant designs are painted in black, earthen, and brown oil paints are exquisite and when placed against the simple but powerful backdrop of the bamboo meshes, a rare piece of art is created!
Creation of each piece is a detailed process. Thin leather is cleaned and dried. It is then cut intricately and is pasted on the mesh with organic adhesive. Interestingly, the artists directly paint on the cutouts. No pencil sketch is done. First, the outlines are drawn mainly in brown color. Some artists may use black color as well. The natural wood color is used for the most part of the pieces. Sometimes, green and red colors may be filled in, but usually brown and wood color is the combination. Therefore, drawing is the key to this art form. A fluid movement of lines and curves gives out beautiful pictures.
A thin coat of varnish over the leather preserves its colors and quality for quite a long time. However, still, to keep the luster and sheen of the leather intact, it is better to frame or laminate these pieces. If you do not wish to do so, then just dust it regularly with a soft dry piece of cotton cloth. Never expose it to sunlight or moisture because sunlight will fade its colors and moisture will destroy the leather. Do not use commercial cleansers on it because they have harsh chemicals that can harm the appliqué.