Artist From Srikalahasti

“Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills —  to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts.” (Exodus.35) 

One measure cane jaggery, half measure palm jaggery,
a jute bag of iron fillings. Add these into water taken in an
earthen pot, stir with staff from mango tree every two days.
Craft a bamboo reed into a pen, wind it with rags of wool,
read stories of gods for inspiration. Bathe in Swarnamuki,

make an offering in the temple before holding the pen
to dip in ink (settling at the pot like dark thundercloud)
and trace the arms and limbs of gods. First stroke is a messy line
 – it’s meant to be that way, a lesson in humility:
bamboo reed is only a simple tool, an artist is not the Creator.

I brighten my backyard with pots of dyes, fashion linens
with pen craft, make panels, tapestries with tales of Gods,
incarnations of Vishnu in indigo, madder and turmeric
that I let soak into cloth. Layers of colours breathe life –
red, yellow, blue – as the Lord’s eyes open and fix on me.

(Srikalahasti, in Andhra Pradesh, is famed for Kalamkari art)

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