Tuesday, February 19, 2013


He sits there engrossed in his art relentlessly carving on wood. The face, the eyes, the lips and the nose. That's his only skill through which he earns his rozi roti (daily bread). i stood for a long time with the Haveli ( Private Mansion) in waiting too as i watched his dexterity with fascination and admiration. And as usual wanted to talk to him so that he could relieve me of my baggage of queries. The eyes harmoniously travelling. The pupils dilating and constricting, adjusting to the colorful extravaganza. Starting from the wall behind him on to which he sometimes leans when he wants a finer view of his art from a distance to finally settling down on him toiling away without getting least bit distracted by the flurry of activities around him. Some by curious restless to- have -it- all tourists like me passing by. The yellow sandstone wall of Jaisalmer replete with his creations, colorful and fascinating. i have seen his work before in many of the curio shops that i have visited, i have seen them in homes as a decorative but this was my first encounter with the creator of Kathputli http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathputli_(Puppet).
Kaath (Hindi) meaning wood and putli (Hindi) actually means the pupil of the eye. Kathputli is a puppet made out of wood. Of course other things like paints, cloth, metal wires, brocade laces, artificial jewellery etc being used too to give it the finished look as we see them finally.

i cannot help but intrude his concentration. He looked clean and just like us. In an attractive striped full sleeved T shirt, jeans and trainer shoes. Sitting comfortably on the ground, both his legs making a p shape.With one he pressed that piece of  ivory whitish wood that he carved. Both his hands steady on to his tools as he worked. In his left wrist were kadas (Bangles) of some sort...actually the thickest of them all looked like it was of silver. Among the bangles a black thread band too...
Next to him his bag that contained his kitty...

He had not once looked up to see me and i was getting so restless to grab his attention. To befriend him and know more. Trying my best not to disturb him much i did finally manage to seek his attention in a way first. He was kind to let me see his tools and friendly enough to politely answer to whatever i needed to know. All this without lifting his head once and focusing on his work only.

He even allowed me to hold his finished work. The one that he had completed while i watched him. Cutting and chiseling the finer details on that piece of clean looking white wood in 15-20 minutes flat. Maybe even lesser.

Breaking the ice never felt easy and finally i managed to get his full attention. He told me all i needed to know and it sort of gave me relief to learn that he and his brothers were managing well enough to support their family thanks to the Patwon ki Haveli and the daily barrage of tourists that come to see the Haveli.  i hear words within me... thanks to the only skill he has...
He enlightened me about that white wood he was using and some of his personal details. Aankad, that's what he told me the local name was of that wood which makes chiseling and cutting through it easier. His name too and how he knew his art. i loved the pride that spilled through his words when respectfully he narrated that it was a traditional occupation passed on to him from generations...his grandfather, his father and then trickling down on him. Of course when i wanted to buy one he showed me his latest which he called the Two in One. The male and the female in one puppet. All you had to do was just turn the puppet upside down and you had the other version. 

Pawan had given me enough to look forward too. The Patwon ke Haveli being the first http://www.jaisalmer.org.uk/tourist-attractions/havelis/patwon-ki-haveli.html and later Aankad. i begged the guide to show me the tree where ever or when ever he spotted it. Little did i know that i was in for a surprise. 
How can i not know this tree. The flowers of which is a favorite of Lord Shiva and His Ganesh. The milk ooozing out a poison and yet the fragrance free having- a- strange- sappy odor flowers favored by our Gods. 
This time i look closer to the trunk of the tree. Pawan and his Aankad on my mind.
Then looked up to the Heavens not without giving due respects to this tree for all that it is worth. Pawan and his craft included.

Felt grateful for that newly learnt knowledge of what i had known just as one poisonous tree the flower garlands of which sell at an exorbitant rate on Mahashivaratri or Vinayak Chaturthi day but overlooked and shunned otherwise. i was thankful for having known more of Aak in Hindi (Calotropis in English) as Aankad in local Marwari dialect. i felt satisfied with my new education happening effortlessly this way and thrilled about the fact that the terrains of Jaisalmer and it's desert too have enough healthy clumps of these trees where Pawan and his likes can go and have the ivory white wood for free. Quite soul satisfying indeed to know that even today there exist some raw materials in nature that are as free as air.

 i sit narrating my education, admiring my own puppet couple and thinking about Pawan. He must be there right now in that courtyard cum viewing and photospot cum neat fascinating bazaar of Patwon ki Haveli
Coincidence is it??  Pawan is Hindi and it means wind. Wind the synonyms of which we learnt by rote in school as Vayu, Sameer, Anil...

i do have something else spot on too. Actually it too had been waiting all this while just like the Haveli. It has Kathputli dance with music and shows Minoo the child bride just as how i am feeling. Oblivious of her new married status and the strict unwritten rules that she has to adhere to. Thrilled and just too happy in her naivete enjoying the NOW!. 
Joyous at first to see the kathputli show clapping in gaiety at the puppetry, the song and the dance. But  feels happily sleepy regardless of the fact that some lines in the song are actually taunting her and the disapproving looks of her MIL(mother in law) sitting near to her are not welcoming either. 
And here i am. Joyous for having known Pawan and sharing all that i had to... of him and from him for the day. Oblivious of the taunts... 
...and it's time for me to catch a quick nap too. Just like Minoo (Jaya Bhaduri) in that movie Uphaar...




  1. It shows how talent is spread everywhere in our conutry.we need to encourage and recognise them properly.

  2. @Anonymous thank you for saying such kind words. i really don't know if i did that...recognized and encouraged talent. What i do know that i sure was attracted at first and later got richer...

  3. @ Mamta...thank you. Hope i get to see more of u .:)

  4. On your blog after many months...I told you once I am being self-centered, well, not exactly as I am not visiting my blog that often too. But must say, enjoyed reading the tremendous flow of your words...to getting more information about Lord Shiva's "Aak".
    Interesting, I just wrote a poem dedicated to 'Kanha' and here I read about 'Shiva'.....My big day to remember 2 Gods in one day (when days go by engrossed in human life and forget the divine power).

    Shivani, beautiful post, and loved the pics that you shared. Thanks :)

    Will try to be regular and finish the backlog too (expect some comments in the coming days on various posts).

  5. Forgot to mention, Pawan is awesome. Thanks for telling about him. Not everyone notices and acknowledges the hard work n talent.

  6. @Shaifali hey beautiful! so good to see you here on my page. Yeah for me too deliberations of day to day keeps me off not only the Divine one but from myself too...
    i have been hoping all to be gud on ur side maybe a bit too hectic. It's okay with me whenever you can for it makes me happy to see you respond to my attempting to have conversations on similar grounds.
    Thank you for the conversation and for appreciating Pawan.
    hugs and lots of love...:) :)

  7. He looks really skilled and is proud of his work. There are many really good artisans like these who go unnoticed.