Chittara: the making of an ancient quotidian ritualistic floor decoration into a typeface
Chittara Typecraft—how a floor decoration became a font
Region: Shimoga district, Karnataka
Chittara is an artform in which clay paste is used to create geometric patterns on
the floors and walls of entrances of houses.
This art form, which originated from ancient cave paintings, eventually found its way to the walls and floors of village homes. The Kannada word Chittara (which is related to chittra ) means an image or design. Historically, the art form has been practiced by women of the Deewaru community in the Sagar district of Karnataka, where these images were painted on auspicious occasions on the interiors and exteriors of the home.
Historically, Chittara has been practiced by women of the Deewaru community in Karnataka’s Sagar district. Chittara patterns were painted in village homes on auspicious occasions, to welcome the Gods. These paintings are a part of family and community rituals associated with festivities, and only the woman of the house makes these patterns. Today, Chittara is a languishing craft, with supposedly only five families practising it in the state of Karnataka.
Workshops with artisans vary from project to project and is dependent on how literate the craftswomen are and how much exposure they have had in exploring new designs with their craft. Since Radha Sullur, whom we worked with is literate in English, it was easier for her to understand the nuances of letter shapes, although, we had to explain the rules of type design, to her, as well as explore how this specific artwork can be transformed into type.
Craftsperson - Radha Sullur
Designer and Craft Co-ordinator - Ishan Khosla
Font Development - Andreu Balius