Ancient “Bassi” Art on the brink of extinction

Chittorgarh: One of the ancient indigenous art-form of Rajasthan, “Bassi” Art is on the brink of extinction.

“Bassi” Art popularly known as “Bassi Kala” is a 400-year-old tradition where wooden toys and wooden temples are being crafted and later painted either in oil or in watercolours. Earlier natural colours were used in the entire process.

42 -year-old “Bassi” artist Satyanarayan Suthal claims that he is the only one left in his village who knows about the intricacies of the art-form.

“I am the sole carrier of this form of art from our village. My son is not interested in continuing the tradition because he has seen the bad days the art and artists are going through. He prefers to work at the chemist shop rather than adopting our family profession,” said Suthal.

Suthal was busy painting “Bassi” Art in traditional “Kawad” style for it would be exhibited at the wedding ceremony of Mukesh Ambani’s daughter Isha Ambani.

Earlier there were at least 100 families engaged in the vocation but now there are hardly five left. Artist from the Bassi village is now switching over to other professions for their livelihood.

“Bassi” art form is categorized into three major types – “Lakri ke Khilone”(wooden toys), “Kawad” and “Mandir Beban”. In this art form, mythological stories and folklores are being told through painting inside a small handcrafted wooden temple. The art has been named after the Village Bassi of Chhitorgarh.

In “Bassi Kala” a special type of wood obtained from a tree known as ‘Adusa’ is used. However, with tree becoming rare and found only in few pockets of Aravalli hills the Bassi Kala is also diminishing.

“Wood is the base of our art and it is not easy these days to get it due to several restrictions. Though I love my work, I have a family to look after and hence I am forced to leave my traditional profession,” said Sureshchandra Suthar who makes “Mandir Beban”.

However, Suthar and artists like him feel that the ancient art could be saved from extinction if the government provides assistance to artists and art and devise a roadmap for it.