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The Origin of Theva

Theva, often confused with enameling, is in fact completely different in appearance as well as technique. For generations, artisans in Pratapgarh have produced extraordinary objects of ornamental and utility value using the Theva technique In the district of Chittorgarh, in south Rajasthan, nestles a small estate named Deolia. It was founded by Prince Bika, a scion of the Royal family of Mewar. Having long cherished the desire to rule independently, he moved away to the borderland between Mewar, Malwa and Bagar. After defeating Devi Mini, the tribal queen, who ruled the region, he founded Deolia in 1561.

The rule in Deolia however was short lived, as the scarcity of drinking water compelled the royal family to move to the new capital Pratapgarh, 16 kilometers to the east.

The simple raw materials and technique used stand in sharp contrast to the high quality effect of the finished object; no other form of art depicts with such meticulous detail the day-to-day life, legends, battlefields and hunting scenes on such a tiny surface. Because of the royal patronage, the themes and symbols used reflected the taste and concerns of royalty. Some of the common motifs are the hunting scene with elephants and palanquins, deer and lions, Maharana Pratap riding his famous horse Chetak, soldiers engaged in war, Krishna with his gopis, peacocks and royal weddings.The most exquisite articles of Theva work can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. These articles were made about 100 years ago. There is a large plaque in the collection of the Geological Museum in London and the Queen of England has, in her personal belongings, an intricate casket, with extremely narrative panels.

The Theva work is one of the many fine examples of our glorious past and also a constant reminder of our heritage, where human skill was nurtured with supreme precision and care.

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