In the district of Chittorgarh, in south Rajasthan, nestles a small estate named Deolia. It was founded by Prince Rajkumar Pratapsingh, 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 kilo meters to the east. The fortified town of Pratapgarh is mostly surrounded by Bhil and Mina villages. As the town flourishes on a near barter economy of transaction between the tribals of the nearby villages and the money lending “Bora” shopkeepers (who largely inhabit the land), it is rather incredible that the famous art of Thewa work has been flourishing here for generations.
The art of Thewa work came to be in Pratapgarh four hundred years ago and has ever since developed under the patronage it received from the rulers. In the late 19th and early 20th century Thewa work was erroneously described as a form of enamelling by the surveyors of arts and crafts of India. In fact, it does not resemble enamelling either in appearance or technique. For generations the artisans have produced extraordinary objects of ornamental and utility value. The colors of glass used commonly are red, blue and green, due to the non-availability of other colors. The desired piece of glass is encased in a frame of gold plated silver wire. A paper-thin sheet of gold, of the same size as the glass, is cut and a free hand sketch of floral or historical motifs is made on it, by special tools. It is then dipped in acid for a while and washed thoroughly with water. A mixture of cinnamon oil and another material known as ‘Rag’ is brushed at the back, to prevent the metal from melting.
The glass is then semi fused and a thin silver foil is fixed on the other side, in order to give it a uniform luster. 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, battlefield 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 engaged in war, Krishna with his Gopis, Peacocks and Royal Weddings.
The most exquisite article of Thewa 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. which was made by Mathura lal ji Soni (our great grandfather).
The Thewa 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. As this work is still a hand made work. no machine work is done to prepare a Thewa art Jewellery. It is a perfect Gift to those who love wearing royal and traditional kinds of jewellery.
The Government of India recognized and praised the Thewa Art by publishing a postal stamp of Rs 5 on Thewa on November 5, 2OO2.
In 2018 Shri Mahesh Rajsoni Won Bharat Gaurav award in British Parliament London, UK. And he is the only person who got to see the actual Thewa art piece present in the museum of London.
Nathu ji Soni invented the process; the secrets of the craft that passed directly from father to son over the generations remains in the family only, who call themselves 'Raj-Sonis’. Many of the members from this family have been awarded by UNESCO, National & State Government Awards. Some of the finest examples of this unique form of decorative art are in local museum collections in India as well as abroad including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria & Albert . Thewa art originated about 400 years ago in the district named "Pratapgarh"in Rajasthan. The founder of this unique art form NathuLal Soni was conferred the title of "RAJ SONI" (Royal Goldsmith) by Maharaja Sumant Singh. Shri Ram vilas Rajsoni who was famous for his fineness in this art work among the family and skill craftsman. The Chief Artist Mahesh Raj Soni has been awarded by the government of India in 2015 by "Padma Shri" Award he was a member of Rajsoni family of Pratapgarh Rajasthan and have kept thewa art alive. All sixteen members of the family have been awarded the National award and State award for Thewa art. Mahesh Rajsoni was Born on May 21, 1954. Shri Mahesh Rajsoni passed his secrets of the craft directly from father to son to Mr Raghav Rajsoni After his death on 25 February 2019, his youngest son Mr Raghav Rajsoni carried on the legacy of artwork transferred by his father and grandfather. Currently the family of Rajsoni have 2 places to display their artwork headquarter in Jaipur as Art of Thewa 1761 Studio and in Pratapgarh. With excellency of Art Work which he learned from his father and with the revolution of thewa art, Raghav Rajsoni has tried to implement new and trending designs that is in the jewellery industry. He has also been awarded with lifetime legacy award from Designer of india award in 2021 for the same passion and goal to protect ancient art form and he is also honoured with “Golden Arc Award” For top 50 Artist in 2021.
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