Kutchchy Ethos


The charms of Kutch are embedded into its art. Against the backdrop of the white crystal deserts and the yellow grasslands, the Kutchchy people stride in grace with their bold colourful embroideries. We can see this in their clothes, over their walls, on their beds…almost any place around. Overall a fantastic mishmash!

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There are two distinct forms of art which are typically seen in the interiors of Kutch – Lippan Art and Kutchy ‘Bharat’ meaning embroidery.

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A Gleaming Amalgamation!

 

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Among the many Jat communities in India, Kutchchy Jats are nomadic, separated from their fellow families in Pakistan. They rear cattle, breed camels and indulge in exceptional artwork. Through some family connections, we had a good chance to meet a Jat family deep into the Dhodro village. When we entered their courtyard, we noticed a cluster of round mud houses painted white with bright carved doors. They had thatched roofs and looked like the ones in fairy tales. We later learnt that all mud houses, commonly known as ‘Bhungas’ belonged to one extended family and each sub family had its own ‘Bhunga’. Wow…we were impressed because as soon as we entered one, it felt cool as if entering an air conditioning room. Not only that, it glistened with magnificent patterns and murals with mirrors embedded in them. The whole feeling of a warm welcome, the unruffled ambiance, freshness and the gorgeousness of these homes touched my heart. I couldn’t help writing about it.

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While trying to apprehend so much about how beautiful the ‘Bhungas’ are, I noticed how neatly everything was aligned and arranged. Looking at my baffled face the ‘sarpanch’ or the village head explained that murals on the wall are called Lippan. They make simple patterns with a generous use of mirrors and earthy colours. Usually mixture of donkey or camel dung and clay is used to make Lippan murals. It is hard to believe that donkey or camel dung can create such alluring work.

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Thread and Countless Mirrors All over Kutch, we saw a spectrum of colours. Locals wear bright colours so that they can be spotted easily in the wide deserts. They have several types of embroideries like Kambari, Niran, Kherk belonging to different tribes in the region, etc. These patterns are known to be the most advanced and intricate. A lot of them indulge in skirt work and coverlets.

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Typically, men set out with cattle while women embroider. These ladies prepare for tocher for their little girls. One such exclusive style of needlework that caught my eye was distinct from the rest. Apparently, it is known to be from Sind in Pakistan. There were rugs folded neatly which had small triangular pieces of coloured cloth stitched on the outer side with the actual embroidery being at the centre. This resulted in small and detached design from the interlaced woven fabric that stretched above the surface of the base cloth. I know it may be difficult to visualize what I just wrote but perhaps a picture might do some justice to my explanation.

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I wondered how it must feel to have your entire life revolving around art. Its almost like you live, breathe, create and worship such a gift. I observed how women gossiped, took care of their children who chased goats while their hands moved swiftly over their needlework. Such incredible and perfected work was a boon! Hail to Kutch…inspiration unlimited!

The Treasure is all Mine! :)

Do I sound greedy? Naah naah…its not the greed. It is a feeling just like for a sailor finding treasure on a lone island…have you ever felt like that?

Wandering around the city sometimes for work or while just walking along the road could be very beneficial. It has been for me a number of times. This month I decided to dig out my treasure and recollect every piece I picked up all along my way…

In Pune, we have this wonderful yet crowded place where you get a lot of thrifty stuff. Or let me make it simple, the name says it all, “Joona Bazaar”, meaning sale of old stuff! Old is gold, right? So Bipin & I decided to go and see if that is true.

We walked through the stuffy lanes and loud vendors just hoping to come across some interesting old stuff. We saw people selling tarps and coins, some discounted bags, old furniture, etc. We decided to go a bit deeper into the narrow lanes where people chewed tobacco, some sipped tea and some chatted in clusters. Thats when we spotted something spectacular and unique!. A 55 kg brass trunk with stunning embellishments found a 100 years ago…and after a small research on this, I figured no such piece has been created in the recent 75 years! And there was no way we were going to leave it behind! We negotiated a good price and though it was still on the higher side, we bought it.

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In the same place some other time, with my friend Aditi, we walked through the crowded dusty lanes. This time a little girl of about 10 years was selling some smaller antiques. She didn’t have more than 20 pieces of unique trinkets in brass. I bought a strange retro-rustic water container with a face of a cow as its spout. It was pretty and perfect for my living room! Further, I found a pair of intricate brass shot glasses with Meenakari work. Pieces of art I should say! Bipin was in for a surprise that day and it adds to our collection of shot glasses.

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I know…you might be a bit bored of my stories of Joona Bazaar, but believe me…it is the only place I like to shop! My next stop was in Hubli…no no, don’t worry, I didn’t go there to see antiques, but to meet a very dear friend Siddharth. Since he’d shifted to Hubli, we decided to travel there to see him. In the heart of the city is his beautiful home with a fortune of antiques, I guess a collection from his ancestral times. Thats when I took some pictures of chairs which they use daily. I thought, how lucky! 🙂 Loved them and wanted to bring them all to Pune!

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Then came an awesome coincidence! My mother was walking past a shop where they basically sell everything from second hand furniture to newspapers and even coconuts. She spotted a fine-looking old teak wood cupboard. It was bulky yet simple and carved aesthetically! She called me right away, paid the guy to reserve it and asked me to come along immediately. I bought it, refurbished and use it as a filing cabinet…Thanks to my mother, its at home now!

 

 

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A friends’s friends called me one day and suggested me to stop by his home which was going to be demolished soon. He wanted to get rid of his antiques which I found very weird but nevertheless, I had a chance to buy them off him. I picked up a long churner which was traditionally used by women to whip buttermilk. These women stood tall and churned a huge pot of buttermilk which today we buy in tetrapacks. 🙂 Whether I whip it myself or not, I do have an ancient churner at home! 🙂

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The same friend also had just one window grill made with beautiful Sagwan or teak wood. Gorgeous as it was, I picked it up and transformed it to a blue chandelier I have in my studio!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another of my very exclusive treasure is the “Taala” or a huge, heavy, ornate lock! It has such beautifully carved keys which work so fabulously. I was off to coastal Karnataka to a small town called Gokarna for my cousin Sonals wedding. Gokarna is known for its deep blue sea, an ancient temple of Shiva and a lane full of deity accessory shopping! In our spare time, while the bride was dressing up, we wandered around the city, one store had this ‘taala’ hung on a cabinet. We asked him if he could sell it to us and he replied, “why not?” 🙂

 

So many people, experiences and places are involved in my collection of these aged treasures…love them and I hope this collection adds on..

 

 

 

The 3 C’s I call them – Cushy, Comfortable & Cozy!

What makes living rooms, bedrooms or any other room comfortable? Have you ever thought how boring a sofa could be in dull beige or too bright a red or simply a gaudy print? Well I have seen such lifeless rooms! When I see such places, I feel why could they not make it a little better…that too without any effort! Let me not increase your anticipation, I was simply talking about those things which dress up the sofas or beds or even the floors. Those cushy things which bring comfort and warmth! Pillows & upholstery..of all types and shapes!

This time I won’t be blabbering much since a lot of you know how to use them. Not much explanation goes behind how and what to really do! So here is a little post with more pictures and less talk! 🙂

The Living Comfort

Home Sweet Home
I keep changing my pillows, cushions and my upholstery from time to time! This time red ruled in my living space!

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Pretty Cozy & Inviting
My little friend Meghna has a home in the middle of the fields and yet in the city. When I designed her home, it was all about maintaining the freshness and prettiness of her style! The frilly pillows did their bit!

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Bold & Bright
Though orange is not a colour I would use much on upholstery, I quite like this place. It is a home of an acquaintance who believes orange is a spice of life.

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My Travel Diaries

Reflection of Goa
The pastel blue, fresh white sofa and the splash of bright bold pillows looked smashing in one of the beach side hotels in Goa! Loved it!

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Zanzibari Treasures
My trip to Africa and into the island of Zanzibar, was like bringing back treasure of good memories, and so much inspiration t0 make new things. This bench with batik upholstery looked bright and gorgeous! How simple is that?

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Mosaic of Turkey
Along with the Turkish mosaic, comes rich colours of the pillows with its coziness! I loved this lobby in our hotel in Istanbul!

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Paradise they call it – Hawai’i
This is long time back when days were different from now. The Big Island as it is called where the active Volcanoes live came this traditional bed throw and patchwork! It resembles the Applique work from the state of Gujarat.

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Bedrooms that make a difference!

The Dance Galore
My dancer friend and her beautiful bedroom, rich with colour and traditional fabric enhanced it even more. A tint of blue, yellow and red pillows got their way along the headboard of her white linen sheet!

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Green that pleases
A Bedroom with an ease of green helps you relax. Here the bed is been embellished with only 3 pillows to break the repetitiveness of the greens to make it a bit chirpy.

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Musing Clicks

Sometimes there isn’t much of a reason to click! Bright colours, bold prints, catchy stuff makes you snap pictures! So..here are some!

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Aha..so did the cushy stuff change the perception of boring sofas and beds? Hope it has..and hope to see that change in yours!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rhythms & Beats a Part of Our Homes

Music & decor…is strange combination right? No no..it ain’t strange at all! Somebody has said “Music enhances homes and always resembles something!” So, in my post, there is music and some good homes and studios with some wonderful musicians!

The Beat of the Drum!

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Varun Venkit from Taal Inc is a friend who believes in connecting to the inner rhythms of your body. Through his music and drums he focuses on areas of health and well being of people. He conducts regular drum circles for various populations and ages and helps people in participating in a community activity, a stress buster, and behavioural intervention technique.

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Since Bipin is a part of Taal Inc. I got a chance to visit Varun’s home. I loved it the moment I entered his little room with a very interesting sound proof studio. He told me that a lot of his friends coloured and helped him with the graffiti on its walls.

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Since the whole place was full of different drums like the Drum Set, Djembe, Doumbek and so on, I wanted to capture as much as possible. What interested me was also how he had decorated his room with other little things that showed his passion and inclination for music!

Rhythms at Home!

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A lot of beats and rhythms begin in my own home! There is rhythm on the table, on the drum set, on the Djembe or anything that helps the beat! My study has various drums from Tabla, Djembe, Doumbek, the Drum Set, Dholak and some more accessories to go with the tempo! Well you may ask me why the collection? The collection is a part of Bipins passion as well. All along his day and life, he thinks of rhythms.

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All these drums occupy a lot of space. Also living in an apartment doesn’t allow too much liberty to have a sound proof room. Hence we decided to place them in such a way so that our neighbours don’t fear earthquakes very often. So, we broke a wall, framed a glass on it, raised a platform in order to absorb the sound. And voila, the room is a shared asset with a book shelf, my study, our shot glass collection, a funky bar and a collection of beautiful carved drums!

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DJ Amah & his Didgeridoos

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As much as fun and playful Amar is, he is one sombre guy when it comes to music. We call DJ Amah since it sounds so cool! He is an ardent lover of almost every musical instrument right from guitars to drums and to didgeridoos. He is the lead behind his group called The Ajala Dhwani Project. This group attempts to interpret the Earth,and its sounds and the existence of mankind on this planet.

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As much as how musical instruments look good, they can be very messy and unorganized due to the wires and belts and all the other accessories they come with. To flaunt them better and to keep them intact, Aditi, his wife, plays a very important role. She manages this music room making it interesting by looking into the aesthetics of her home.

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A very unique thing about their decor is the simplicity in which it is displayed despite the mixture of so many instrument which are a part of Hindustani, Carnatic music, Indian and World Folk. Both Amar and Aditi have done a good job!

Inheritance of a Violin

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Deepa, my sister almost inherited a violin from her parents on her birthday. As much as she wanted to learn the violin, she put her family at priority and overlooked her passion for quite sometime. Then came a day that she put her hands to work on this art with great traditions behind it. A tradition followed by almost every member in her family. A family of musicians!

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Obviously, for a creative person like her, she couldn’t help but use this harmonious instrument to be a part of her beautiful home. She cares and keeps it in such a fashion that the more she sees it, the further she wants to play it! Violin is where she finds her happiness, preserving it as a part of her decor is her practice.

Lost in time – The Tambora

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Roopa, my mother-in-law goes back into history. History of certain instruments lost in time. Her melodious voice and a unified evocative rhythm of the Tambora soothes the beautiful garden and home she lives in.

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Through her artistic sense, she constantly works on projects around the house and surprises all of us every time we go home. There is a new painting or a patch work or a comfortable seating to practice her music! When I visited her last, she played her melodious Tambora in her garden by the Tulsi Vrindavan ( a pot or a holder of a type of auspicious basil considered holy). I loved the melody and the arrangement she made to practice her song.

The art of arranging sounds amidst the natural environment of her home accompanied by music is something I tried capturing!

These are some people I thought are very interesting! They have a great aesthetic sense of decorating their homes, stirring the rhythms and beat of music in different forms! I loved them, their homes and their passion for music that comes from within!

 

 

Recycle….is it a part of everybodies life?

When people like us re-use and recycle, the world will change, ain’t it? Now you may say that how many times am I going to write about it on my blog…I say..over and over again! This time I shall talk less about how I have recycled and talk more about how a lot of people around me have done the same..in their own little way.

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Kanchan, one of the most creative lady I have ever met in my life runs an apparel business with ethnicity and a deep reflection of our culture in her patterns. It is called Design Kreeda. She not only designs clothing but also works around other imaginative ideas. Lets see her plan on a broken chair she salvaged for a long time. She says ” I love some of my furniture dearly but when it is no more in a usable condition, I cannot throw it. I couldn’t throw my favourite chair away! So I decided to use it differently… I was in my study room, searching for some small note and wanted to buy a pin up board to save them all. I decided to buy a boring pin board. I thought and turned around only to see my poor little broken chair shoved under the cupboard. And volila! This broken chair was converted into a pin board!”

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I don’t know Vasudha but I have seen her work. She seems to be a very imaginative gal with her blog full of beautiful and most importantly doable things! I asked her if she wanted to be a part of my recycle post and she agreed. Thank you so much for sharing your work. Anyway I picked this really nice post on ‘The art of Decoupage‘. She says that she has a chestnut trunk which she thinks is easily 75 years old and sort of damaged. Since she had mastered the art of decoupage, she decided to use it on this trunk as well. Laced with pictures from a calendar, the trunk looked gorgeous and original. This whole makeover took her about 3 days to complete. Using the used was her contribution to the old and new!

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Rutika is my very young friend whom I worked out with. She, I thought was one of the most sensible and nice people from a whole bunch of them. She is also one person who loves experimenting different things. She says that she picks up a lot of fancy liquor bottles. She tries using them as juice bottle or vases. These bottle featured in the post had a lovely shape which inspired her to make use of it for summer juices. Hence, she put up some simple polka dots with cool colours and got a cork of stainless steel and converted it into a bottle for serving juice/water.

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Another inspired and creative buddy of mine Aditi is always up to something. Though a physiotherapist by profession, she enjoys creating new things all the time. Well I think her innovative juices keep her going and she does come up with unusual things like pen stands from corn tins, tissue paper dispenser out of liquor boxes, photo frames out of shirt cardboard etc. She says, “RECYCLE has a synonym called UPCYCLE’ which has always been an intriguing and interesting pass time for me. Now though I refer to it as a pass time it is much more than that. When I recycle stuff, it is usually made of the things which are lying around at home- unnoticed, unseen or under utilized.” The most fascinating thing she made were beads. Can anybody guess what they are made with? They are’PAPER BEADS’!” It is the best way to utilize all the envelops, wrapping papers, pizza menu pamphlets, advertisement pamphlets, old magazines or news papers. She makes fancy necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc from them!

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My architect friend Aloka and her husband bought a new apartment last year.There was a lot of old furniture in it that the earlier family did not take along. She says, as architects they were not enthusiastic about it because it did not meet with our design sensibilities. Moreover, as per our new furniture layout, many fixed pieces were positioned in the wrong place as seen in the first picture. Since they believe in re-using, they decided to re-position and work around things which already existed. And voilà the kiddie room appears larger, the white colour helps it look light and breezy. There are dashes of colour that liven up the space without making it feeling dingy.

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Story of Reflections Reflected!

 

It seems like a weird title, ain’t it? The whole post is about one of the most popular, innovative, utilitarian and aesthetic piece of furniture which just takes about a little space on your walls. I am talking about mirrors, the one thing I enjoy making. I always feel that when you look into a creative mirror and like what you see, makes you happy.

Most of the mirrors I have made so far, have always had some sort of a reason and inspiration. I love to pick ideas off the streets or from my travels and make it a part of my creation. From my collection, I have picked up some lovelies and their stories.

Bluesome Vespa

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Remember the days when the almost one motor bike was the Vespa? When I made this mirror, I spotted a beautiful blue antique scooter on the streets of Mumbai. Thats when I thought, its time to revive the past…it is time to relive the moments even I spent on this moped as a child!

Colour Recycled

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I am big into recycling. I try to re-use as much as I can. Every time my carpenter shaves off wood to make the surface smooth, these beautiful curls of fine papyrus wood get wasted. Hence, I decided to process and colour them so that they last, and stuck them on my mirror. Turned out to be a creative mixture of natural and recycled material.

Tashi Delek

In 2009, we visited Sikkim for 15 days. We ventured in to the remotest areas bordering Tibet. The experience was divine. I noticed A lot of hotels, restaurants, shops were called “Tashi Delek”. Infact the hotel we stayed was called “Tashi Delek” meaning ‘may good luck come to you’ in Bhutia. As soon as I got got home, “Tashi Delek” had to be on my mirror!

Jaala

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Round, rich and deep blue, one of my favourite mirror is Jaala, meaning water. Water being the most important element of life, civilization and prosperity had to be a part of my work. My visit to Hampimade me implement some elements of the Vijayanagara kingdom into my work which survived and prospered because of the infinite Pushkarnis or man-made water holes and a splendid water supply despite the barren land of Hampi. This mirror marks the infinite water reservoirs and the riches of the kingdom of Vijaynagara.

Zig Zag

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I had always seen zebras on television. It wasn’t the most fascinating animal I had ever seen. In 2010, I visited Kenya when I actually got to see herds of them. I loved them instantly and again, it had to reflect in my work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eva La Rosa

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While I lived in the USA, I had a little Indian handicraft store in a Farmers Market in Dayton. Every Sunday morning, he would sell beautiful, fresh roses from his farm for just $6! The placard saying “roses for just $6” was written so artistically, that I copied it on to my mirror.

 

 

Horn OK Please

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How can we ever ignore the lovely slow moving trucks of our country? They are bright, bold and gorgeous. I can say they are “shaan” (pride) of India! So, I dedicated an entire mirror to these giant beauties of India!

 

 

Sheesha Peetal

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During my travel to Hampi, The most important metal used during those times was copper or peetal. This place was also full of temples where spoons, diyas or lanterns were made from copper. Hence, I thought, I should dedicate my tall, green mirror to the temples and the common man of Vijayanagara.

 

 

 

 

Peacock Plumage

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I was shocked to see the overwhelming intricate doors on all the houses on the island of Zanzibar! I had to use it…the idea, the design! It came popping in into another deep green mirror I made, I call it Peacock Plumage!

 

 

 

 

The Imperial Compilation – Hampi Inspired.

They say everything comes to an end….my recent trip to Hampi & Badami as well…what was left behind were we and many more in their ruins of temples, markets and palaces which once belonged to the great Kings and warriors….What was also left behind were my thoughts inspired by these majestic ruins. I came home, studied the pictures of the architecture, studied the metal used, the bold colours and the importance of water in this area. And then, it was time to use it in my work…

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Mirrors have always been my favourite. I love to experiment with them and guess what? Most things look nice on them anyway. So, talking about the rich Vijayanagara of Hampi, there lived middle class people as well. The most important metal used during those times was copper or peetal. This place was also full of temples where spoons, diyas or lanterns were made from copper. Hence, I thought, I should dedicate my tall, green mirror to the temples and the common man of Vijayanagara.

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This next mirror has a very profoud thought after the beautiful and intricately carved Pushkarni. A water reservoir shaped in a square with triangular steps, was made around Temples for bathing before visiting the Gods. The deep Blue of the mirror with a combination of Gold marks the riches of Vijaynagara..

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Round, rich and deep blue, one of my favourite mirror is Jaala, meaning water. Water being the most important element of life, civilization and prosperity had to be a part of my work. The kingdom survived and prospered because of the infinite Pushkarnis and water holes and a splendid water supply despite the barren land of Hampi. This mirror marks the infinite water reservoirs and the riches of the kingdom of Vijaynagara.

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Storage of any sort has been one of the most important part of our lives. We need it all over. Nidhanika meaning shelf in Sanskrit – is a solid display and storage shelf for books or anything else. It has simple yet ornate golden wrought iron embellishments. The little motif in golden marks the literacy and riches of the era of the Saluva dynasty.

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Last but not the least, after so much time, we saw the Milky way in the twilight that spread over Hampi. That moment was so significant for me, that Koshayi meaning drawers in Sanskrit is a pieceinspired by the clear starry nights over the expansive strech of these ruins. The drawers are made blue with golden beads to imitate the shinning stars.