The Ustas of Bikaner are a community of craftsmen par
excellence. They are adept in stone carving, painted stuccowork
and embellishment of camel hide oil bottles. Most of the sandstone
filigree work in the facades and balconies of the palaces of Bikaner
is the creation of Usta stone carvers. Similarly, the painted
stuccowork on the ceiling of rooms in the old fort was done by the
ancestors of the present-day Ustas. However, the Ustas
are most renowned for their ornately adorned camel hide bottles.
The camel skin is first softened, then stretched over a clay mould
of the desired forms and, when set, the clay is washed out. Bottles,
goblets - and nowadays - lampshades of different shapes and sizes
are made in this manner and adorned with raised floral patterns,
coloured with lustrous pigments.
Examples of contemporary stonework by the Master craftsmen Zaharuddin
Usta and those of camel hide work by another equally talented Hanif
Usta, both from Bikaner, are shown here.
Raju Swami, a highly acclaimed and talented Bikaner painter of
miniatures, has shown some of his works in this room. Raju Swami
and his brother Mukesh have also painted the murals on the entrance
gate to the Museum