Himalayan Initiatives

Krishna Tashi Palmo | Project Purukul | Basohli Painting Center

Krishna Tashi Palmo

Born on 15th april 1984, Krishna Tashi Palmo hails from Shipting village of Lahaul and Spiti district in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. She is a certified Thangka painter, trained at T.C.V. Tibetan Traditional Art School, Patlikulh under the aegis of her guru Shri Dorje Thandup. She paints with her husband Stanzin Nyantek, who is also a Thangka artist.

Tashi is a nature lover, who finds fulfilment when surrounded by colours. Through her paintings, she instils life to the unheard stories of her native place. Her paintings are also reflections of her beliefs. She also enjoys drawing contemporary art, portraits, landscapes and cartoons.

For Tashi, nothing expresses her thoughts better than paintings. She also writes short stories and poems. Apart from these, she has participated in multiple events i.e., exhibitions at the Delhi Haat in 2014, Tribal Fair in Keylong in 2016 among many others. Tashi regards her solo exhibition, 'Krishna on Canvas' in 2018 organised by SAVE Lahul and Spiti and the Language Dept., as her first artistic piece which also gave her the spotlight and helped her build an identity of her own.

Thangka paintings are considered sacred and many religious conventions are attached to them. Hence, when she began to learn this art, she had to battle a lot with those conventions which restricted women and people with disabilities to take it up. Yet, neither did she give up her dream nor her perseverance to continue with the thing that her heart wanted to. With her immense hard work and dedication she proved her ability and became an inspiration for all those women who, due to financial, gender or physical disability had to give up their dreams.

Through her paintings, she tries to portray emotions, spirituality and positivity that has always been a part of her life.

The first seed of this collective germinated when Mrs. Amrit Burett participated in a social work programme where she came in touch with the high-spirited, energetic women of Purkul, a village just off Dehradun, abound by the green hills of Mussoorie. There was much to learn and so much more to inspire. It was then that this idea came to her; a fertile region for development, a group with talent both unprecedented and uncovered. The ladies of this village were both dynamic and committed to the work they did and each of those works were just like a piece of art in all aspects. What followed is a timeless tale of what leadership and boundless talent channelled together can do.

There are many prerequisites for a venture to be able to sustain itself, but the most important aspects being, the vision and the will to add value to it throughout the entire journey. Not just monetary value, but a sense of empowerment and belonging for everyone who is involved. Mrs.Burrett, through her keen interest and determination, brought a bucketful of life-experiences working in various fields including academics, social work, media, sales among others. Amidst the pandemic, this was such a plan that paved its way for employment and autonomy

With love and a warm heart, Mrs. Burrett brought together a bunch of zestful individuals who had lots of creativity and newer perspectives. The art has been a part of the village, but it was now time for it to be revealed to the people out there to understand and value the same.

Each and every product that’s created, incorporates the spirit of women who make them. They are infused with a balance of vibrance, colour, and functionality. The best part being many of the products are flexible enough for them to be recreated. Every thread that reaches the consumer from the village of Purkul tells the story of an artisan winning in life, of employment being generated and sustained, of improved quality of life and of hope, gleaming through at the end of the day.

However, Project Purkul is more than just a venture dedicated to bringing out personal accessories and quality home decor elements for lifestyle and home. They emphasise on the idea of area-wide empowerment. What sets them distinct is that they perceive empowerment as a two-fold thing, where they not only learn from each other but also teach each other discipline, skill, art and create opportunities for growth.

Mrs. Burrett aims to unlock the potential of Purkul’s youth with the making of a development centre in the same vicinity of their workshop i.e., it will be a place for people to collect, share ideas, learn new skills and sharpen their acquired talents.

Basohli art or Pahari paintings that emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries is a distinctive style of painting–possessing traits from both Hindu mythology and Mughal miniature techniques. This form of painting got its name from Basohli, a quaint town in Jammu.

Basohli paintings have a touch of decorative simplicity with a brighter essence of suggestive mural art. In several of these paintings, the art is often associated with some significant physical features, such as the peculiar sloping forehead or very large expressive eyes shaped like lotus petals. A remarkable feature of this artform is for eg. the occasional use of fragments like that of beetle wings to represent jewellery. Furthermore, the transparent dressing style of women, clothing of men depicts a certain extent of Mughal inŽuence. The illustration of ornaments and drapery skillfully represents feminine emotions. The most popular themes of Basohli Paintings come from Shringara literature like Rasamanjari or Bouquet of Delight (a long love poem written in the 15th century by Bhanudatta of Tirhut Bihar), Gita Govinda, and Ragamala. Basohli Paintings were also supported by the famous Pala rulers namely Raja Sangram Pal and Raja Kirpal Pal.

In 1694 AD, under the rule of Raja Kirpal Pal, a painter named Devidas illustrated a miniature for Rasamanjari. The Rasamanjari of that era were illustrated by different other painters, many of which are found in various parts of the world. And soon, the traditional folk art of Basohli became one of the most prized heritage of the hills.

Unfortunately this art form is at the peak of extinction. And to revive the same back to existence, the only propulsion to the artistry is in the village of Basohli. In Basohli, a painting centre has been established by an NGO that goes by the name of Vishavasthali which aims to focus on safeguarding, disseminating and building up the rich legacy of Basohli compositions and Basohli Pashmina. Till date, the foundation has generated many young artists who are working and preparing life-like replicas.

These art enthusiasts have made this form of art their hobby and passion. Basohli Painting and miniature artwork is a prospering practice for developing talented, skilled, diligent, and unemployed youth.

Giri Foundation, a non-profitable organisation aims at putting forward the revival of fading art and bringing it back to existence and in the process, helping the women artists reach a global market. This is done to create a sense of awareness about the importance of any art form and to spread aspects of virtue of human dignity. Giri’s main goal is to make the mountain women, essentially more skilled in the area of their expertise, to have sustainable, stable work and experience of entrepreneurial opportunities. This will not only save the centuries old art form but also will provide financial independence to a lot of women.