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Ashok K Biswas

Ashok Kumar Biswas

The Tikuli' or.'Bindi' which has adorned the forehead of Hindu women for centuries has now found a new incarnation as an art form, thanks to the artist, painter and craftsman Shree Ashok Kumar Biswas. With humble beginnings at Dehri On Sone in Rohtas district of Bihar this man had a skill and a talent to match his dreams. He may safely be called the lone crusader in the battle for the revival of the dying Tikuli craft and he has kept the battle going at Patna since 1974 with his wife Shibani. The centuries old dying Tikuli art exhibits the many faces of our rich Indian culture including the famous Madhubani Paintings of Bihar. .The motifs of the Madhubani art and other mythological characters have been widely used in the Tikuli Paintings. It needs to be mentioned here that the Tikuli a'rt owes some of its allegience to the famous painter Shree Upendra Maharathi too; as it was during his tour of Japan that Shree Maharathi came across colourful hardboard paintings depicting the centuries old Nipponese motifs and being sold commercially to both foreigners and locals. Impressed' and inspired by such paintings, Maharathi adopted the Japanese method to portray the dying Tikuli art on glazed hardboard.' But all his efforts came to a standstill as after his death neither the local artists, nor did the Bihar govt. show any interest or inclination in promoting this legendary art form.

But this art form did not reach its annihilation and found its salvation in painter Ashok K. Biswas whose single-handed crusade has brought Tikuli art to our homes today. Working on this particular form of painting since 1974, Biswas has never looked the other way even with blatant government apathy or at a time when its commercial viability could be questioned. But there was a time someHoO years ago when the Tikuli was a commercially flourishing trade item serving as a beauty aide for the royal ladies and attracting traders from the far off states of northern and western India to Patna where bulk purchases were made of the gorgeously embellished Tikulis made in gold and silver foils with glistening glasses acting as a solid bases. During this time the Tikuli enjoyed a vast Mughal patronage and the maze of dingy, and dark lanes clustering around over populated habitations in Patna were also engaged in manufacturing thousands of such bright and beautiful Tikulis.

But the downfall of the Mughal empire also capsized the flourishing Tikuli trade and the British regime paved the way for cheaper and more westernized factory made fashion products in India. Thus by the year 1900, the Tikuli art was facing the threat of extinction.

However due to the intervention of S"hree Upendra Maharathi in providing a new dimension to the Tikuli art by its indigenous portrayal on glazed hard boards but above all of utmost significance is the undeterred efforts and undying spirit of painter and craftsman Ashdk K. Biswas who has been the whole and soul in helping the Tikuli art reach its zenith.

The 1982 Asian games will forever be etched strongly in Biswas's memory as it was during these games that our then Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi selected the Tikuli plates amongst all other crafts as the

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