Folklore tells us that the origins of this art form lie with Radhe, who made Sanjhi rangolis using natural colors, along with flowers, leaves and colored stones, to woo Krishna. The other gopis soon followed suit, also making intricate designs to impress Krishna. Sanjhi has been popular ever since, and during the Mughal period, contemporary themes were introduced for greater perspective. Today, Sanjhi art is found in many homes and spaces. It has been displayed in Delhi metro stations and was recently used for pictograms during the Commonwealth Games.
To create a Sanjhi design, stencils are made on paper (mostly handmade) using specially designed scissors. These stencils are placed on flat surfaces or water, where the rangoli has to be drawn. Dry colors are then sifted onto the surface. Filling the colors and lifting the stencils are as critical as cutting the design. Peacocks, bullock carts, horses, cows, butterflies and trees are some of the common motifs used. The intricate craftsmanship reflects the artist’s devotion and the intimate love for the Blue God. To produce an elaborate Sanjhi design could take anywhere between an hour and a month.
Each Sanjhi art piece is visually impressive, owing to the artist’s perfection of portrayal, through the beauty of the shape, a well-matched combination of colors, and the intricacy of ornamental patterns.