Decorative items have always made their entry into our homes and living spaces. We always look for special artefacts and hand-made items, reflecting our aesthetic sense and creative bent of mind. In the modern era, this taste translates into demand for such exquisite handicrafts, creating livelihood opportunities for skilled artists and artisans, while fulfilling our desire for special interiors. Leather paintings represent one such special legacy of art work, made in Andhra Pradesh. This form of art is linked to the state’s traditional folk and cultural expression, called Leather puppetry.
The artisans of Nimmalakunta in Ananthapur district, Narsaraopet in Guntur district and D.C. Palle in Nellore district create these masterpieces making these places the main centers of leather painting industry in Andhra Pradesh. In Nimmalakunta, artisans’ practice this as a hereditary craft.
Leather paintings is an offshoot of the Leather puppet as well as lamp shades industry in the state. The same artisans who create Lamp shades also create amazing Leather paintings in colorful designs and patterns. The raw materials used are Goat hide and sheepskin and in addition to this, water proof colors, paint-brush and mould are some of the materials used.
The paintings are based on mythological figures. The colors which are derived from vegetables dyes like brilliant red, green, white, yellow, browns and orange are used by the artisans. After coloring, the painting is dried while Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata inspire the painters to display their skill on lampshades of attractive shapes and sizes, featuring exquisite leather paintings.
The paintings feature interesting patterns of mythological prints, which are considered quite popular among art collectors and there are certain paintings which involve alternating bands with different colors, making it quite attractive and artistic. The decorative patterns painted by the artisans enhances the attraction of these art works, which are used widely as Lamp shades and also in the rural folk art of Leather puppetry. The paintings reflect the creative excellence of artisan community that excels in this famous craft.