Minakshi Khati from Kumaon, Uttarakhand started Minakriti: The Aipan Project by collaborating with village women to revive the dying art form.
If you visit Uttarakhand, you may spot small aesthetic houses with red walls and white hand paintings. What adorned almost every house at one time in the area is now quite a rare sight.
This ancient art form is called ‘Aipan’, said to have originated in Kumaon village of Uttarakhand.
Village women used to make a thick rice paste and beautify the walls using three fingers of their right hand.
Kumaon-resident Minakshi Khati grew up seeing many such walls in her village.
“Grandmothers would pass the tradition of Aipan to their daughters, and they would pass it on to their daughters, thus continuing the cycle. As a kid I often traced patterns with the rice paste with my grandmother,” recalls Minakshi.
During her college days, she realised that this art, which is inspired by geometry and nature, is slowly dying. And that while the birth state of Aipan art was losing touch with it, other states held it in high esteem. So, the 24-year-old decided to revive it on her own by collaborating with a few village women.
Thus, Minakriti: The Aipan Project was started in 2019 with an aim to revive Aipan. It became a hit on social media. Minakshi came to be known as the ‘Aipan Girl’ after this!
People enjoyed viewing the graceful process of drawing conch shells, flowers, footsteps and goddesses with white paint on red bases.
Unlike the earlier days when the drawings were made on walls, the women began decorating nameplates, wall hangings, cutlery and other products using the Aipan style of painting. They earn an average of Rs 10,000 depending upon the number of orders they receive.
Minakshi’s community now employs over 30 women from her village who are well-versed in the art. Additionally, they are training over 20,000 children in Aipan with an aim to preserve it for the future.