The Kinhal art form is a distinct style of wood carving and sculpture-making that originated from the village of Kinhal, Karnataka. This art form was born during the illustrious period of the Vijayanagara Empire. The artists, called ‘chitragaaras’, use soft wood to create toys and idols. It is believed that these chitragaaras’ ancestors were the ones who painted the famed Hampi temples and carved the era’s chariots.
Today, many chitragaara families have migrated to different places in search of more lucrative jobs and very few among them have retained their faith in the ancient artistic practices. Which is a pity, because Kinhal Art has been granted with Geographical Indications in accordance with the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and protection) Act, 1999, of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and its gradual disappearance will be a huge cultural loss.
The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts is an autonomous trust under the Ministry of Culture. IGNCA has taken up the project of Kinhal Art to raise awareness about India’s rich and long-standing heritage. The project/workshop was recently inaugurated with the vice chancellor of Bangalore University, Dr. K R Venugoapal, Regional Director of IGNCA, Dr. Deepti Navaratna, and a representative of Kinhal artists, Sitamma, present at the function. 15 artists from Kinhal were invited to make idols of various Goddesses. Along with this, artists from Kinhal were invited to make different kinds of toys as well.