This article was originally published on Nazariya, and was written by Ananya Maahir.
Fusing a love for art and nature, Sikki work is one of the most prevalent crafts in Bihar.
In Mithila, which is a historic city in Bihar, nearly all women are adept with an array of crafts. These mainly include painting (Madhubani is an example), and grass work or ‘Sikki’. Mithila painting, embroidery and papier-mache are the other forms common in Bihar.
Women and Sikki
According to the cultural ideologies held locally, a girl adept in the aforementioned 5 crafts grants her a grater degree of popularity in the household. Sikki craft has been in existence for a very long period of time. It is quite difficult to discern the origin dates of the craft. However, the highest prevalence of the craft exists in Northern Bihar.
How to: The Process of making Grass Art
An implement called the ‘munj’ is used to coil the grass around and create structures. The main tool is a needle shaped item called the ‘takua’, which is rounded at the end for better grip. The base is initially made from coiled
The colours of Sikki grass don’t vary much from yellow naturally. However, the addition of colours artificially can grant them any hue under the Sun. The process of adding colour involves boiling the golden grass in colour.
After the Sikki is made, it can be put together for sale if it has multiple pieces and parts. A vast variety of products can be made using this craft, and these include containers for food (‘jhappa’), flower baskets (‘saji’), idols, ornaments as well as children’s toys.
The Effects of Globalisation
With the digitisation of life itself to such a high degree, women in Bihar have diverted their attention from familial craft. This has decreased the popularity of forms such as Sikki. Another reason for this decline is the abundance of industries in the surrounding areas. Industrial environments are unsuitable for the growth of Sikki grass.
Even though the form is on a decline, it is practised in certain areas such as Madhubani, Darbhanga and Sitamarhi. With the increased enticement of the Indian civilian to anything ‘Western’, products like phone cases and pen holders become more saleable. In order to revive the form, one needs to look at a compromise between traditional and contemporary implementations of it.