The Kutch region in Gujarat, India is a home to a variety of art and crafts, and one of the unique traditions there is the technique of decorating the walls of homes with mud and mirror work. The mud art is called Lippan Art or Lippan Kaam. The word “Lippan” means ‘clay’ or ‘dung’ in local Gujarati. Lippan Art is basically mud-relief artwork that incorporates mirrors.
Traditionally, Lippan Art uses a dough prepared from clay or mud and animal dung – usually donkey or camel dung. Husk of millet was also used instead of dung to avoid termite attacks. Large mirrors are shattered using stones and the small pieces are arranged aesthetically to form designs. The use of mirrors served to produce a sparkling effect as a result of reflections, where a simple lamp can light up a very large space. Traditional Lippan artwork is usually white in colour. Rarely natural colours are also used. Lippan takes days to dry and make as every step is executed by hand.
Nowadays, modern materials and techniques are used instead of the traditional ones. This makes the process easier and quicker, the artwork portable, lightweight, odour-free, and less prone to breakage. It also helps the artwork last longer since it becomes more durable and requires little or no maintenance, unlike the art executed by traditional process. Lippan Art is made in beautiful colour combinations today. Shades of red, yellow, green, and blue are used in the designs.
In both traditional and modern forms, Lippan art is done not only in square or rectangle shapes but also in various other shapes.
Lippan Art has gathered attention of the modern world for its intricate pattern and aesthetic perfection and has made a full transition from its unknown modest stature to the mainstream art world, decorating the walls of urban homes. Truly, Lippan represents the vibrant culture and tradition of the Kutch!