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5 Great Leather Lampshades & Puppets Ideas That You Can Share With Your Friends

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

Puppetry, a traditional folk form of cultural expression, is intrinsically related to the technique of producing leather puppets. This kind of shadow-puppet theatre is known as tollu bommalu / tollu bommalatta (leather puppets / leather puppetry) and is present in different regions of Andhra Pradesh. Tollu refers to leather, while bommalu refers to dolls or figures. The form was created in 200 BC. The monarchs of the Satvahana dynasty favoured it. In Andhra Pradesh, the puppet figures are cut from pieces of leather or stiff parchment, and Pradesh is brightly colourful and larger in size than those found elsewhere in the country. This puppetry, which acted as an efficient means of communication, is dominated by themes from the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. A Telugu manuscript titled 'Ramayana Ranganathana' was produced expressly for the shadow theatre during the time of King Kona Reddy, a king of the Vijayanagar Empire, in the 16th century. The document provides directions for the building and ornamentation of puppets as well as a dramatic text of the classic epic saga. The puppet shapes are made of skin or stiff parchment and are coloured and larger in size in Andhra Pradesh than in other regions of the country. This puppetry, which acted as an efficient means of communication, is dominated by themes from the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Demography The primary centres of leather puppet manufacture in Andhra Pradesh are Nimmalakunta in Anantapur district, D.C. Palle in Nellore district, and Narsaraopet in Guntur district. Nimmalakunta is recognized for its artists who practice this hereditary profession. Producer Tribes The Marathi Balija are the main participants in this craft, and they are thought to have originated in the Marathwada region. Puppet production used to be a thriving business, especially since puppetry was one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the countryside. However, as this kind of shadow theatre begins to fade, leather puppet producers are being compelled to diversify their wares into practical goods such as colourful lampshades or even toys in order to meet the demands of a new market.

Material Used The basic materials are goat hide and sheepskin. Waterproof colours, a hammer, a chisel, a needle, scissors, a paintbrush, and a mould are also utilized (for lampshades). Dharmavaram, Ananthapur, Hindupur, Narsaraopet, and Hyderabad are the sources of these raw materials. The fundamental raw material, goat hide, are purchased from local marketplaces. Currently, a medium-sized piece costs between Rs. 150 and Rs. 2. After obtaining the raw material, it must be properly cleaned with hot water. It is then steeped for 10 days in a pit of limewater. This softens the upper surface, which is then scrubbed thoroughly or scraped with a chisel to achieve a smooth finish. After this initial cleaning, the leather is soaked once more, this time with kadaka powder, which gives the leather a light brown colour. The leather is then properly dried, which could take up to a week depending on the weather. The leather is now ready for the designs to be drawn on it after it has dried. Lampshades are created with the use of a mould. The leather is first to cut into two equal pieces by the artist. The leather is stretched across half of the mould, which is then sewn with a needle. The other half is then used to cover the other side of the mould. The artisan then adds the designs, which are mostly mythological figures with a few of his own ideas thrown in for good measure. These sketches were made with a pencil. After marking the designs, black is used to outline them. Following that, vegetable dyes are used to fill in the colours, with the most common being vivid reds, greens, whites, yellows, browns, and orange. The appeal of the lampshade is enhanced by chiselling small holes in the artistic designs. The article's main body is coloured with a brush and waterproof colours. These hues can be found at your local market. After colouring the figures, the outlines are retraced in black, giving the patterns a layer of thickness. Depending on the weather, the product is dried in the sun for a day or two. The finished product is now available for purchase. The product's price ranges from Rs.300 to Rs.450. Making puppets: After smoothing the leather, the craftsperson uses a pencil to create the design on both sides of the leather. The leather is then trimmed to fit the design's contour. After that, the outline portion is coloured black. Both sides will have their own design and colouring. Different colours are filled into the main form after the outlines have been marked. This must be done meticulously and requires a lot of time and work. It is then dried for two to three days after colouring. For movement, the puppet shape is put on sticks and bound with ropes. To facilitate free movement, different portions of the body are sliced apart and then connected together. It's worth noting that, while most puppets are made of goatskin, certain demons are made of buffalo hide, and gods and other heroes are represented on deerskin. Puppets vary in size; it is believed that puppets from Madanapally and Kakinada can reach a height of 4-5 feet. To provide stability, the leather puppet is inserted into a split bamboo strip and fastened along the length of the strip from head to crotch. Many puppets have moveable hands and legs, as well as movable heads and necks in some cases. While male figures and sages are frequently represented in black, red, and green, feminine figures and sages are typically depicted in yellow.

Puppets with elaborate decorations indicating jewellery and attire are also common. Sharp chisels are used to perforate little drawings on the skin to achieve this look. As previously said, the most time-consuming procedure in the production of the puppets is the colouring of the puppets. The puppets' designs are heavily influenced by classic Puranic figures found in temple art and idols. It takes thirty to forty days to complete the product. The product's current price ranges from Rs.500 to Rs.4000, depending on its size, decoration complexity, and other characteristics. 6. Adding life to the puppets These masterfully constructed puppets were previously the backbone of enthralling renditions of Indian epic stories. The norm for previous generations of puppeteers and puppeteers was up to fifteen performances per month. The principal puppeteer would stand behind the screen and tell stories while managing the movements of the characters in order to communicate the entire spirit of the theme being enacted. Improvisations were common, and an interactive performance would allow for better audience interaction.A typical company consisted of six to 10 members, including manipulators, singers, dancers, and instrumentalists. Throughout the extended performance, the sounds and musical accompaniment complemented the actions and frequently regaled the audience. At least a hundred puppet figurines are required for both the Ramayana and Mahabharata stories. Each puppet is held aloft by a pole from below, and the limbs are controlled by strings. A white screen runs the length of the stage, just above the heads of the puppeteers who sit behind it. Bright light is thrown from behind the puppets, causing their shadows to be projected onto the curtain and seen by the audience on the other side. The colours pop, and the distance between the light and the puppets is adjusted to magnify or shorten the figures. Tolu Bommalata is a composite art that combines the fine arts of music, sculpture, and painting. However, the number of performances has decreased dramatically in recent years, and most are now limited to a few adjacent settlements. 7. Marketing Leather puppets and lampshades are sold at exhibits, emporia (such as Lepakshi), and other craft stores. According to the artisans, the government should take a more active role in marketing and infrastructure development, such as the establishment of special showrooms. However, exhibitions in metros and large cities are currently the primary sales method. The potential for export exists, but it does not appear to have been fully realised. Designs Due to the fact that leather puppets are a requirement of a traditional art form like puppetry, the figures, themes, and design elements are usually derived from traditional and religious sources. Lampshades of various shapes and sizes are mostly inspired by epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata. On them, Hindu deities such as Ganesh, Vishnu, and Krishna, as well as floral and animal motifs, are represented. With colourful portrayals of Hanuman, Ravana with his 10 heads, and Vinayaka reclining regally, Ramayana motifs generally predominate in the artwork. These depict Sundarakanda, Lankadahanam, Ravana Vadha, and Laxmana Moksha. The Panchatantra's characters are also used. The eye-catching leather puppets are being used as wall decorations in modern times. The fact that the object is now a decorative and/or functional item in modern society has also caused specific alterations. One technique for remaining adaptable to the changing market is to create lampshades instead of leather puppets. However, design inputs must take into account the various markets being targeted. Dual product lines must be developed because what is successful in an export market may not necessarily sell well in national exhibits.


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