You could snip through an artery in a trice if you owned a priceless pair of scissors like the ones in the picture belonging to Ram Soni, eldest of four paper cutting artists. “The blacksmith makes ten and only two will be fit for purpose. They must have the right balance and grip, they must feel right.” A little like a violin under a musician’s chin- part her, or an extension of her.
” These I’ve had for 10 years.We worship our scissors at Puja, Diwali, Holi and Dussehra and we dedicate our work to Vishvakarma, whom artist’s venerate as their god.”
Ram, Shyam, Sanjay and Vijay, the four Soni brothers were apprenticed when they were small boys. They were reluctant to enter the vocation which their ancestors had practised and refined for 350 years in Mathura, home of the god Krishna. Before that the family were gold and silver smiths for creating decorations for their temple.
For the four boys, their parents were their gurus. “Until you practise and play with with your craft you can never master it. You have to learn to make it your own.”
Ram was a National Award winner in 2002 and 2012 and now he owes his income to fashionable interior decorators who commission huge pieces for walls. The brothers also make stencils for use on furniture and for borders on walls.
The cut-work patterns have a playful aesthetic, ethereal as snowflakes and with a formal symmetry more usually seen in Islamic stonework, but this craft is very much Hindu in origin and content. Creating a wonder out of paper needs a zen-like stillness and tranquillity which is a kind of meditation, if not worship.
Ram and his brothers have stencils in traditional patterns for sale and will post them to anywhere in the world. A frieze of parrots would make a lovely border on my kitchen cupboards.
Sinjhi Art Paper Cutting
1132 Bhargav Gali, Ghiya Mandi
Mathura (U.P.) 281001, India