Saturday, 15 October 2011

Traditional Folk Dancing of Udaipur, India

Below is a diary entry from a day I spent in Udaipur, India.

Friday 9th July 2010

Matt and I spent today sight seeing in Udaipur. We hired a rickshaw driver for the day and he took us to Lake Pichola which was dried up. We drove through the market which was very interesting. Fruits were mostly being sold and we watched the people making baskets by weaving thin slats of wood together. We had hoped to have lunch at the Floating Lake Palace but it wasn't possible because it is now only open for the guests staying there. The Floating Lake Palace was where the James Bond film Octopussy was filmed. We ended up eating the fruit from the market instead. 

Afterwards we went to the city palace museum which is the largest museum in Rajasthan. Several of the rooms were added on by different Maharajas throughout their occupation and the palace overlooks the lake where the floating palace is which was the Maharajas summer house and the mountains where the palace stands for the monsoon season. The museum was very beautiful with its decorated courtyards and the dancehall was my favorite area because it had beautiful peacock relief sculptures protruding from the walls with tiny pieces of glass used to decorate the tail feathers. There was also a large bowl in one of the rooms on the higher level which looked like an empty bath tub carved into the marble floor. The purpose of this bowl was to store change for the poor beggars. 

We saw another dried up lake called the Fateh Sagaj and some camels. We walked around the Saheliyon-Ki-Bari which is an ornamental garden and there were different fountains with statues of elephants and a lotus pool. We went to a beautiful viewpoint which overlooked the city and the mountains and a dirty lake which the locals were washing themselves in along with their clothes and some children were having fun swimming. We went on to a textiles company who showed me how to do a block print and I made an image of an elephant. The colours used were natural dyes. The red was also used for Henna which only lasts 20 days on the skin but when mixed with the gum from a tree it becomes a permanent dye. The cotton needed to be washed twice before it was printed on to allow it to shrink to size.

Here are some photographs of me having a go at the block printing, I apologize for the demon eyes!

After this we were shown lots of different textiles such as table cloths and wall hangings and they dressed me in a sari and showed me how to put it on; one end is tied around the waist in a double knot, then pleats are created with the length of the cloth and tucked into the front of the waist (I was told 12 if you are thin and 8 if you are fat) and the excess material goes around the shoulder. Matt tried on traditional mens wedding wear. 

Afterwards we went to an art shop which specialized in miniature painting. The paintings were tiny and the detail was incredible. The artist used a magnifying glass to paint and the brushes were tiny. I tried to have a go but my hand shook too much because you have to train your hand to stay still; It takes many years of practice. The artist painted onto camel bone amongst other things and I bought a block here for printing with. The artist also wrote our names onto pieces of rice. After this we looked around a Jagdish temple which had fantastic carvings. We played badminton with the children and they seemed really happy. In the evening we watched Dharohar which was a chance to see the classical dancing of Rajasthan. It was in a beautiful setting and the show lasted an hour. The costumes were brilliantly colourful and the women danced with bells on their toes. One lady danced with nearly 10 pots balanced on her head whilst standing on shards of glass. This was amazing. I thought it really made a difference when the women smiled whilst performing because it looked like they were enjoying themselves. 

Here are some photographs Matt and I took of the dancers performing:

Below is a painting I did using acrylic paint. I was inspired by the dancing and colours and hoped to show a sense of movement whilst the dancers spun around to create a wonderful blur of colour.

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