A cluster is defined as a geographic concentration (a city/town/few adjacent village and their adjoining areas) of units producing near similar products and facing common opportunities and threats. An artisan cluster is defined as geographically concentrated (mostly in villages/townships) household units producing handicraft/handloom products. In a typical cluster, such producers often belong to a traditional community, producing the long-established products for generations. Indeed, many artisan clusters are centuries old Artisan.
About Astha Cluster:-
AsthaCluster falls under Madhya Pradesh State in Sehore district.
The Astha cluster is able to form 300 plus Artisans & 25 SHGs supporting the strong work force. The mobilization gains momentum day by day.
The tribals are blessed with the inborn art of carving and make very attractive items. There are wooden chowkies made for measuring grains. Wedding pillars of Bharia and wooden doors of Gonds and Korkus are very attractive and unusual. Doors, seat and supporting beams are made of wood called kumbi. Musical instruments dhanks, mandals, dhols and dhangs are all made of wood and are made by the Nimar tribes. There are wooden lamps which are made in a very artistic way.
Other carved wooden items include small shrines and deities, low carved stools for marriages, carved fans for the deity, fertility couples and various small ceremonial containers. The carved panels of deities fixed to either end of a metre-long pole were the other ceremonial items. These panels are called kavadi and afre carried on the shoulders of a person to fulfill the vow to Lord Murugan or Karthikeya. Household kitchen instruments in wood such as grinders, vegetable cutters and serving ladle holders are items given in dowry.
Lathe-turned and lacquered toys in bright colors and at affordable prices are popular all over the state. Carved wooden toys, dolls and elephants exhibiting the skills of the artisan are also made.
Wood Carving’s Raw Materials:-
Basic Material : Bhurkul or gular wood, mango wood, green bamboo, shisham wood Colouring Material : Alta, turmeric. Basic Material : Doodhia wood, lac, lac stick, oil, old cloth, coloured paper. Basic Material : Remnants of cloth, bamboo, rags, paper Colouring Material : Dye colours Basic Material : Punki wood, tamarind seeds, lime glue, brush, water colour, oil colour, red sanders wood Basic Material : Cloths, colours, waste material for stuffing, coloured papers, clay
Wood Carving’s Process:-
The wood as per the size of the form to be made is cut from the block. The piece is cleaned and smoothened. The design of the toy to be made is traced on this piece. Extra wood is chipped off according to the design. Fine strokes with the hammer are made on the chisel, which is placed on the area to be shaped. It is smoothened with a file and painted. The painting starts with coloring various body parts. Next the dresses with specific designs are marked out by fine strokes of the brush. The facial features are added in the end.Sugga (parrot) are the wooden toys fixed on the marriage mandap. The mosara, (central part), charkhi and sugga (parrots) are made by the same process These are joined by bamboo killi (screw). The marriage post is coloured with yellow (turmeric), red (alta) and green colours.
The lacquering is done by pressing the lac stick against the revolving article. Oil is also applied at the same time for giving the better polish. Leaves of a kind of flowering cactus are used for polishing. The articles are either in single colour or in bands of different colours. The complicated designs and colour schemes are effected by manipulating the lac turnery and using the multifarious techniques.In Jaipur, the toys are made out of old cloth dyed afresh and stuffed with waste material. When they are gaily decorated with coloured paper and tinsel they look very alive especially with their expressive faces.
Rag dolls are made out of remnants of cloth usually thrown away. These are painstakingly collected and dyed into different shades to work out a variety of colour schemes. The eyes and mouth are indicated by black line . In case of a Rani doll, the clothes & body are fully decorated.
Wood Carving’s Techniques:-
Each wooden piece that is cut to make an item is subjected to a process of slow heating to draw out all moisture. Every single limb is separately carved and joined to the body with adhesive paste of tamarind seeds, and later passed through a coating of lime glue. The painting with colours is done by very fine precision with brushes made of goats hair. Water and oil colours are both used. Lacquering is done on a lathe, hand or is machine operated. For turning slender and delicate items, hand lathe is considered suitable. In the lac turney method, lac is applied in a dry state that is the lac stick is pressed against the woodenware to be lacquered. While the latter keeps revolving, the heat generated by friction softens the lac, making the colour stick. Lacquer ware toys are produced in this way. It is with remarkable skill that the craftsmen manipulate the stick where several colours are used. Some of the lacquered pieces are painted with a brush.
How to Reach:-
Sehore is a city and a municipality in Sehore district in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is the district headquarters of Sehore District and is located on the Bhopal Indore highway, 38 km away from Bhopal.