This artform has been in existence from the early 14th century and was patronised by the Deccan nawabs. It takes its name from the village of Nirmal in Adilabad district. The craft is practised by a group of artisans known as naqash who traditionally paint scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as well as from Mughal and Kangra miniatures. They work with plain or embossed designs and obtain the indigenous colours from minerals, gum, and herbs. The master craftespersons of Nirmal originally made gold colour from herbal juices. The paintings are in gold on dark backgrounds and are strikingly beautiful. The abundant use of gold adds a metallic richness to the ware. Popular items include jewellery and trinket boxes made of poniki wood, ganjifa boxes, playing cards, and khan chibba (food tray covers). The craft is also practised at Hyderabad. A large variety of products, including furniture, screens, panels, wall plaques, lamp stands, bowls, cigarette boxes, trinket boxes, and ashtrays, are made.
Nirmal toys are also very popular and are closely imitative of natural forms. Poniki wood is used for small products and teak wood for larger items. At one time Nirmal artisans used to make religious figures, but now only animals and birds are made. Birds are shown in flying formations of three or more. Wall plaques with painted flying birds are also common, as are brightly coloured depictions of fruits, vegetables, and animals. The gloss and sheen give an exclusive touch to these toys and dolls.
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