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PM Modi shares UP’s enormous soft-power with gifts to world leaders

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Indian PM Modi, French President Macron at Schloss Elmau, Germany on sidelines of G7 summit 2022

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shared UP’s enormous soft power by gifting heritage products sourced from each district of the state to world leaders who had assembled at the G-7 summit in Germany.

For instance, the Prime Minister gifted a Gulabi Meenakari brooch and cufflink set to the US President, Joe Biden. Gulabi Meenakari is a GI tagged art-form of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.  A piece of pure , it is first moulded into a base form, and then, a chosen design is embossed in the metal. The embossed shapes are further filled with great dexterity with crushed Meena glass mixed with an intriguing natural Anardana (pomegranate seeds) glue. This is then fired to transform into a translucent coloured patch. What distinguishes it from other Meenakari is the layer of white Meena which acts as an opaque canvas for hand painted motifs. The paint is fired layer by layer for permanence. The motifs primarily use the colour pink (Gulabi), which lends its name to the craft. A matching brooch was also gifted for the First Lady.

For the French President, Emmanuel Macron, PM gifted Itr bottles in a zardozi box. The carrier box has been crafted in Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh. The Zari Zardozi box has been hand embroidered on khadi silk & satin tissue in colours of the French National Flag. The motifs are traditional Indo-Persian, lotus flowers hand embroidered with metal wire in blue and a pendant used in Kashmiri carpets and motifs from Awadhi architecture.

The intricate  box further includes Attar Mitti. This is a unique attar produced in Kannauj, India where Petrichor- the fresh odour of first rain coming on earth is captured over sandalwood oil. It has an earthy wet natural aroma, produced by 5000-year-old traditional deg and bhapka method by distilling specially selected baked soil over Sandalwood oil.

Jasmine Oil: An exclusive natural oil product of freshly plucked flowers of Bela (Jasmine sambac) produced by careful hydro distillation to capture the unique most close to natural fresh floral sweet green odour of freshly plucked flower of Bela. Besides, it enmeshed four other scents, including Attar Shamama. This is a unique attar that captures the essence of a number of herbs and  spices of age old Vedic formulation over Sandalwood oil to produce an attar having warm spicy, herbaceous, oriental notes which is very difficult to replicate.

Also used is Attar Gulab—an odour most close to natural rose petals produced by hydro distillation in a copper vessel so as to avoid overheating of the petals. This is followed by exotic musk—a  modern masculine fragrance crafted with opulence of Jasmine, extravagant sensuality of Rose and the provocative charm of warm, woody note of Musk as its base note. The French President was also presented Garam Masala, in celebration of the French penchant for a strongly grounded cuisine, the newly formulated liquid Garam Masala has been added. It is an edible natural oil combination of extracts & essential oils of the Iconic Indian spice blend of Garam Masala,  which is very difficult to replicate.

For British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, PM Modi gifted Platinum painted hand painted Tea Set. Encased here is a tea set from Bulandhshahr district to Uttar Pradesh. The base form is hand painted and fired at 1200 degrees Celsius. The embossed outlines are laid on manually with Mehndi cone work and require an extremely confident hand. Each shape is then separately filled with colour, with great dexterity and the entire cup is fired again. The crockery has been outlined with platinum metal paint in honour of Her Majesty the Queen’s platinum jubilee being celebrated this year.

PM gifted Metal Marodi carving matka to German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz . This nickel coated, hand engraved brass vessel is a masterpiece from District Moradabad, which is also known as the Peetal Nagari or “brass city” of Uttar Pradesh, India. After casting the pot, the design that has to be engraved is first sketched on paper. An outline of the whole design is done with a fine engraving tool hammered with a wooden block. This particular type of engraving is called Marodi, owing to the curved lines used to fill up negative space in this design. The importance of the engraving craft of Moradabad is in its ability to elevate items of everyday use into objects of intrigue.

PM Modi gifted Black Pottery pieces to Japan’s PM, Fumio Kishida. The Black Pottery of Nizamabad in Uttar Pradesh uses a special technique to bring out black colours- while the pottery is inside the oven, it is ensured that there is no scope for oxygen to enter the oven and the heat level remains high. The presence of oxygen can turn the pottery red. The glaze on the pottery comes from the high zinc content of the soil and the layer of mustard oil applied before firing the pottery. The pottery comes both with and without inlay. In the inlaid pottery box, silver metal powder has been used for inlay. The circles are hand carved and then filled with metallic powder. The entire vessel is then fired one last time.

PM gifted Moonj baskets and cotton durries to Senegal’s President, Macky Sall. In Senegal, the tradition of hand weaving is passed down from mother to daughter, adding to its importance as a vehicle for cultural expression and family livelihood – driven by strong women. The same is done in Prayagraj, Sultanpur and Amethi districts of the state of Uttar Pradesh, where Moonj Saccharum bengalense is now acting as a sustainable source of income for rural women. To add to this, Moonj is a wonderful example of utilitarian handicrafts made with sustainably sourced material. Like Senegalese baskets, Moonj craft also utilizes bright, jewel tone colours. This particular piece is by a master craftswoman from Prayagraj. The blades of the sarpat grass used here are much thinner, making them more difficult to weave.

The cotton Durries are hand woven in the Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh. The art of Manjak loincloth weaving is similar to shuttle handloom work done in Sitapur durrie making. The beauty of this particular piece is the thin width of its loom which increases the work out into the Durrie threefold.

PM gifted Lacquerware Ram Durbar to Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo.

The GI tagged lacquerware art-form has its roots in the temple town of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. The wooden statues of gods, goddesses and sacred animals served as coveted souvenirs taken back by pilgrims. The process is a tedious one, requiring assembly of a base wooden form with separate limbs, which is covered layered by layer with distemper or lac-based paint.  True to their city of origin, Lacquerware items always come in bright, jewel tones.

This particular piece is made on Goolar (Botanical name: Ficus Racemosa) wood. The principal characters in the artwork are Shri Ram, Goddess Sita, Lord Hanuman and Jatayu. It is believed that the Indonesian version of Ramayana was written during the Medang Kingdom (732-1006 AD) in Central Java. It is known as Kakawin Ramayana. The story of Ramayana was narrated to the people through shadow puppetry (wayang kulit and wayang purwa).

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