Aipan art is a traditional and ritualistic folk art originating from Kumaon in the Indian Himalayas. Specially done by Kumaoni womens during special occasions, household ceremonies and rituals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Makara Sankranthi, Kark Sankranthi, Weddings, Shivaratri and Laxmi puja. Art is known for its specialty in that it is done on empty walls, which are brick red in color, called Geru. Over that background white paste is used that is made up of rice flour. Art is believed to be the symbol of fortune and fertility. The Aipan art is passed down through multiple generations from mothers to their daughters and daughters-in-law. It was primarily practiced by rich upper-class Brahmin women.
It originated from Almora in Uttarakhand, which was founded during the reign of the Chand dynasty. It flourished during the reign of the Chand dynasty in the Kumaon region. The designs and motifs are motivated by the beliefs of the community and various aspects from nature.
The word “Aepan” is a derivative of “Arpan”.A commonly used word for it is “likhai”(writing) although it is a pattern made with the help of the last three fingers to the right hand.
Aipan is taken from the word Lepana from Sanskrit, which means plaster. Aipan art is similar in different areas of India, it is also known by separate names.
Forms of Aipan Art
There are many forms of Aipan Arts few of them are:
- Saraswati Chowki
- Chamunda Hast Chowki
- Nav Durga Chowki
- Shiv or Shivarchana Peeth
- The Surya Darshan Chowki
- Janeyu Chowki
- Asan Chowki
- Acharya Chowki
The chowki is made for Saraswati pujan which represents the blessings of a goddess in the form of learning . The main feature of this chowki is a five-pointed star with a Swastika flower or a diya in the center. Floral patterns and flower designs are used.
Chamunda Hast Chowki
This chowki is made for ‘yagya’ or ‘havanas”. The main feature of this chowki is two diagonal lines running across the two triangles, with a five-pointed star in between and the whole area is enclosed in a circle.
That circle is decorated with 8 petals of the lotus flower.
Nav Durga Chowki
This chowki is used for Durga pujan.In the center Swastik is formed by using nine dots,it is then called as Nav Swastik. Outside it is covered with floral motifs and design.
Shiv or Shivarchana Peeth
People used to worship Lord Shiva in the month of savan or magh so that time the aipan is made on the ground floor. This is a eight-corner design with twelve dots joined by twelve lines.To make it more attractive there is an outside border of four plus four corners.
The Surya Darshan Chowki
This chowki is made on the floor where the priest sits and recites mantras for pujan called Namakaran (naming ceremony of a newborn child). On this day a child is brought outside for the first time for Surya darshan.
Chauki is made for the sacred thread ceremony. In which seven stars (represent Sapt Rishi) are made within a six-sided drawing form the main section. Floral designs are made around that.
It is an asan in which a devotee and his wife can sit and perform a ritual that is decorated with floral designs.
This chowki is made for acharya or pandits who will perform the ceremony or rituals. He is given more importance. In the centre a swastika is made and other symbols like bell,two parrots, conch shell.
Minakshi Khati, the 22-year-old from Nainital district has fondly come to be known as the Aipan girl of Kumaon, for continuously working to revive the old art form of Uttarakhand. Womens use to make keychains, nameplates, wall paintings, and tea cups. Khati has been continuously experimenting with the art form and started selling it through social media.Minakshi Khati has started Selfie with Aipan to encourage Aipan art among youth.
In 2015 government of Uttarakhand has decided that art depicting Aipan would be acquired for display in government offices and buildings.Some of the government buildings included Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN), Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) and Uttarakhand Power Corporation Limited (UPCL). The decision was taken by the state tourism department headed by Harish Rawat.
Cheli Aipan is a government initiative to promote the Aipan art form.
Nowadays you can find aipan art in most of the house in the form of name plates, wall hanging, stairs, veranda, pots, home decor, etc.