What is Sanjhi?
The Sanjhi art form has been in existence for centuries and is believed to have originated in the temples of Braj, a town near Mathura in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. During ‘pitr paksh’ (a month that is dedicated to remembering the ancestors by the Hindus), young unmarried girls practised this art to find a good husband. Back in the day, the Sanjhi made was typically a four-sided figure with four gates, created using cow dung, flowers and natural colours – drawn and then scraped off the next day, making space for a fresh Sanjhi, carrying out this task for a period of fourteen days.
Another story about the origin of this folk art form points towards Radha making these Sanjhis for Krishna. Whichever strand of its origin takes your fancy, it is believed that it only took shape sometime between the 16th-17th centuries.
Evolution to a Paper-cutting technique
Today, just in a few temples in Braj, Sanjhi is made on walls, floors and even on water. However, to take this art to the rest of India, the artisans entrusted with this art form began to make this on paper and today, it is widely referred to as ‘paper cutting’ or even loosely as the stencil art. The most important tool for this is a special kind of scissor and the deft fingers of a trained artist who creates super-fine designs, almost with laser-like precision, with their skill and hands.
The two known artist families that continue to look after this art form are the Vermas and the Sonis. The Verma family continues to live in Mathura and make splendid home accessories while the Soni family lives between Ajmer and Mathura. Both the families have won various awards, representing India across the world and have even bagged the prestigious UNESCO award and the National award.
What can you do with Sanjhi?
Despite all the help from the Delhi Craft Council, a lot of us are sadly unaware of this craft. If you are wondering what you could possibly do with this craft, just let your imagination run wild! Used as door panels (inserted between two glasses), wall art, lampshades, notebooks…the list is endless as is the human imagination.
If you are an interior designer or an architect, a product designer or if you create wall art, then, we would urge you to explore the magnificent world of Sanjhi and allow the highly skilled Verma or the Soni families to help you create something spectacular for your clients.
Contact details of the Verma and Soni families:
- Mr. Ashutosh Verma (Mathura): +91 95575 58067 ; www.sanjhichitrakari.com
- Mr. Ram Soni (Ajmer): +91 98292 31175
What does Sanjhi art look like?
We sincerely hope that this macro-level writeup on this ancient art form would have got you curious. Pick up the phone and speak to these skilled master artisans as soon as you can… Bring the traditions from Mathura into your home.
PC: Cover Image: Ashutosh Verma
Post Images: Ashutosh Verma and Ram Soni