Art in the Kumaon Region – Aipan

Art in the Kumaon Region – Aipan

Travelling gives you access. The means to unlock a different culture, learn about art, people and their way of life. It is one thing to be a tourist, but to be a traveller, you have to dig deeper than what you see on the surface for there are stories that have depth and meaning – there for you to absorb, take it home with you and pass it on. 

Photo Credit: Manjulika Pramod via LiveMint –

The Orchard, our luxury boutique hotel, is located in Peora in the Kumaon region, a part of the great state of Uttarakhand. Mountains and lakes and a sparse population make these places a truly wonderful place to visit. The cold air is clean and a much-welcomed trait of the north, especially for inhabitants of cities that are bursting at the seams. There is so much to appreciate here – from the food to the landscape, wildlife, history, temples, and so much more.

If you are mesmerised by the world of art, and the stories behind particular styles, then keep your eyes open when passing by temples and places of worship, local homes and outdoor spaces in Uttarakhand. You will see intricate patterns and designs made with just two colours – red and white. These designs are religious symbols, geometric shapes and elements inspired from nature that seems to have a flavour that is unique to locals from around here. The style is meticulous, and the artist’s hands are the preferred form of a paintbrush, and the easel is usually the floors and walls of whatever place the artist chooses. This form of art is called Aipan Art and for the locals the Kumaoni people, this is a form of devotional art. 

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The word Aipan comes from ‘Arpan’ which means dedication. Creating this form of traditional art is believed to bring about good fortunes and fertility. It is likened to making an offering to God. The background of the artwork is made of ‘geru’ or red clay, and the designs are created on top of this red canvas with a paste made from white rice flour. Usually, you find this form of art to be done by women who will decorate areas like their house courtyard and entrances and religious places. Whenever there is an auspicious occasion, the women will draw fresh aipan and use specific motifs for different occasions. Each one symbolises different things, including good fortune and appealing to the Gods for fertility. The patterns made in these households are passed down by the females to the next generation. 

There are noteworthy patterns like one of a pair of holy feet symbolic of Goddess Lakshmi. Some other popular designs have a mandap, a chowki and Kalash which are paired with complementary elements from nature such as flowers, fish and birds. You can own this artwork, as lately, entrepreneurs and artists have been applying these Aipan prints on handmade paper, notebooks, cloth bags and wooden trays among other things so that travellers can take these back home. You can find these at local stores. 

So on your next visit to The Orchard in Peora, when you see Aipan art, stop for a minute or a few to appreciate the works, especially when you know the meaning behind this beautiful form of expressive art. 

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