Sikki art work is being popular in fashion world..
Since ancient times, India is known for its customs. As far as art and culture are concerned, India features amongst the topmost rated culturally rich countries in the world. The handicrafts of India have been loved and respected worldwide and have left everyone awestruck. Many rural people still earn their livelihood from their creative pieces of art and India has still managed to preserve its artisans, its art and its handicrafts.
When it comes to a culture dominated state like Bihar ,the traditions still hold a lot of importance. Be it rituals, festivals or occasions, religious beliefs or traditional art and craft, Bihar and it’s people are very much connected to their roots even today.
Bihar has a Variety of folks
Since ages, The Land of Gautam Buddha and Mahavir Jain is known for its music, art, dances and handicrafts.One of the most popular among them is Madhubani painting. In recent years it has gained huge popularity due to its intricate work, bright colors and unique style of drawing. But on the other hand, there are many art forms which are at the verge of extinction and has bot yet gained a good market.
Sikki art is one such art form.It is century old folk art of rural Bihar with a natural fibre of sikki grass.This grass grows on swampy areas of Koshi region mainly in Kishanganj, Darbhanga, Sitamarhi etc.
In ancient times women of Tharu tribe used to make containers from stems of the grass called sikki to store grains and other crops. Roots and flower part of the grass are removed and then it is dried in the sun. It yields a beautiful bright golden color which is later tied into making various objects. Sikki being a soft fibre is mixed with Munj grass to give it strength.
Origin of Sikki
Sikki art form is not just a handicraft but also a way of earning for women in Mithila region. In Mithila, this art is regarded as “beauty of poverty.” This art was mainly done by poor people who could not afford day-to-day objects from the market. So they started making it on their own.
With the passage of time, Sikki handicrafts became much more than just making regular household items like containers, bags, baskets etc. Women started making boxes to keep their jewelry and bindis. Later it became a tradition to gift these kind of vanity boxes known as Paoti to the new bride during “bidayi.”
Coloring and process of making sikki crafts
Though sikki is characterized by it’s natural golden color, this was also the time when people started to dye sikki grass in different colors and use it along with the natural colored grass to give it a different look e.g. red, yellow, green, deep blue, purple, and pink, etc. and combine the dyed grass with the natural golden colour to make the final product more attractive. Before using, it needs to be soaked in water. Dyeing is achieved by boiling sikki in different colours. Now the main structure is shaped with munj or khar (other types of grass) to provide the basic shape and strength to the sikki product. Generally, munj is used for coiling purpose as it grows abundantly in Maithili region of Bihar.
After the munj is completely coiled over, the basic structure is then covered with sikki, so that it is not visible through the encasing.
Use of Sikki grass
Maithili women make different designs and patterns in the sikki product by combining dyed sikki with natural golden colour sikki to give it a more artistic and attractive look. It requires not only skill but lots of creativity, concentration and jewelry made of sikki grass is getting lot of attention as it looks beautiful and is of lower maintenance as compared to metallic jewelry. Moreover these jewelry pieces are cheaper and eco-friendly as they are made of complete natural fiber.
Upendra Maharathi Shilp Sansthan in Bihar collaborated with National Institute of Design to promote Sikki fashion jewelry.In March 2019, a show Junoon:What village India can make and do for the world organized by Asian Heritage Foundation at Grand Hyatt, Kalina displayed Sikki art jewelry of Bihar.
Need of revival
As urbanization and industrialization is taking over, handicrafts are getting lost in the crowd of machine made products which are less time taking.Villagers are also moving to cities for high income jobs and therefore are not able to continue the tradition of making these handicrafts.During the current pandemic situation, there is no trade fairs or markets available for the artisans so sikki artists are facing huge problems.Therefore in the times where sustainable fashion and development is the need of the hour, nature friendly Sikki art needs to be revived.