Although he lacks the reading and writing skills of a typical educated person, he is fluent in the "craftsman's language" and uses it to inscribe stories into the wrought iron works he creates.
Meet Tatiram Vishwakarma, a resident of the Kidei Chhepda in the Maoist-affected Kondagaon area of Chhattisgarh. Man renowned figure in the field of iron craft in the Bastar region of his state. Tatiram picked up the art of blacksmithing at the ripe old age of 14, thanks to his forefathers.
They were already in charge because it was their family business. However, it was not enough to support the family. They used to work as agriculture laborers on farmhands most of the time. Without formal schooling, the craftsman began his creative adventure after marriage.
He started changing the outdated formula of fulfilling the village's needs, such as knives, axes, and farm implements. So that he could include Bastar tribal art in his ironwork, he started studying it.
In the 1980s, he hosted 52 foreigners at his workshop for a few days as part of a livelihood project. He learned from the foreigners and was motivated by their example to make marketable goods.
Since then, Tatiram has taken tribal skills and applied them to his work in novel ways. Uncovered some new Bastar tribal arts techniques and included them in the iron craft toolkit.
He comes up with unique ideas because of his vivid imagination. Using only a clamp, a hammer, and a hand-operated blower hooked up to a coal stove; he works wonders on a piece of wrought iron. He begins by giving the iron item a form on an anvil, then paints it to match the material.
Each work of art has its narrative. For Tatiram, his workshop is everything to him. He now sells his wares in several major American cities and employs four people at his workshop.
After receiving praise from the Chhattisgarh government in 2013, Tatiram began teaching art to kids in Delhi and Mumbai. The state government provides him a yearly stipend of Rs 5,000 as an artist.
His dedication to preserving indigenous tribal art while working in the insurgent-affected Bastar region would inspire many.