Understanding the Cut Paper Art of Sanjhi and its Significance in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
Sanjhi is a ceremonial craft that originated in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh and is now practised in other parts of India. That features exquisite designs, and intricate picture motifs cut into paper. Often used in the reverence of Lord Krishna, it encompasses the cutting of a complex stencil, portraying scenes from the life of Lord Krishna, and the use of this paper template in making rangolis. It is believed that the derivation of the expression Sanjhi could either be from sancha, or mould from which the template is cut, or it could have originated from the word sanjh meaning ‘the coming of dusk’, which is when the rangoli was customarily exposed in the temples.
A few craftsmen in Uttar Pradesh are still carrying on the age-old tradition. “First, the drawing of the design, or outline is done on a paper to create a Sanjhi. The papers are linked together by means of pins, in case there is a demand for more copies. Next comes the cutting of the Sanjhi using high- quality scissors that are slightly curled at one point for some of the painstaking cutting. The paper is curved and shifted while cutting in order to get the design intact. The edges of the scissors are protected by wrapping it in a cloth, and also as a mark of reverence to the device.”
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