August 17, 2018

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From Caves to Canvas- Kerala Mural Paintings:

When in 1498 A.D, a Portuguese traveler Castaneda recorded having found some grandiose paintings on walls of what he presumed was a church; archeologists knew there is more history to those paintings than known.

Exploring down the line, we now know that painting on walls in Kerala dates back to as long as the pre-historic age, for many such masterpieces were found on rocks from the upper Paleolithic period.

However, mural painting in Kerala is said to have begun between 7th and 8th century A.D, being heavily influenced by the Pallava art.

Since the time they were imbibed, their common subjects were religion, gods, and scripts extracted from mythology.

Kerala murals then and now:

One striking difference between the murals paintings in their earliest days and now is that when they began, they were essentially wall paintings. That is, their only medium was a wall or a rock. Now, however, artists have moved to more contemporary media and have started making use of canvases, papers and even cloth for painting. They have also moved to painting various other subjects now.

Pigments and gum used for painting are still natural to a large extent though. For example, the colors used are extracted from vegetables or made using certain minerals or stones.

Characteristics of Kerala Mural Painting:

Kerala Murals are painted in bright colors with orange (saffron red) and blue being the dominant shades. However, colors like red, green, yellow, white and black can also be found. The paintings are more flowy than symmetrical and often follow a pattern of stroke delicateness and detail.

Characters depicted are more towards conveying an emotion or depicting a bond and hence facial features are of great importance in this form of art.

Mural artists also strictly follow a ratio and abide by the rule of thirds, better known as the Golden Rule.

Some exemplary Kerala Murals from our store:

Manomay: The Winner of Hearts

There is probably no traditional art of India that does not take Lord Ganesha as its subject more often than not and so is the case with Kerala Mural Painting.

This painting is one of the finest examples of this art form painted in bright colors and depicting a cheerful play in the expressions of the lord.

Jesus Christ: The Last Supper

One of the most prominent instances in the history of Christianity is this moment when he declared that one of these disciples would betray him. This incident was first painted into popularity by very renowned Renaissance painter, Leonardo Da Vinci.

This painting of The Last Supper recreated by one of our artists captures the essence of the moment when Jesus is calm and composed, having accepted his fate while his disciples are in angst and wonder.

Advadarsin: Lord Krishna, The Supreme Guide

Yet another iconic moment in mythology is when Arjuna falls into a moral dilemma just before the epic Kurukshetra war and Lord Krishna imparts him with the knowledge of the Bhagavat Gita.

“karmanye Va Adhikaraste, Maa Phaleshu Kadachana”

Your authority begins and ends with the act, the outcome is Mine and My own, the Lord declares.

That very scene is captured in this Kerala Mural Painting in much detail, beauty, and importance to expressions.

Dakshinamurty: Lord Shiva, the Ultimate Teacher

In stark detail and bright hues, this painting stands different from other depictions of Lord Shiva where he is often portrayed as a family man, as a destroyer or as a dancer.

Lord Shiva here is depicted as a teacher as he is an idol of immense knowledge.

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August 10, 2018

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Legacy Through The Ages- Channapatna Woodcraft

Situated 60kms off Bangalore, this quaint, rustic rural area in Karnataka is noted for its expertise in crafting wooden artifacts- toys to be precise. These wooden toys and crafts are famous not just in India but across the globe and are widely exported.

Origin of this traditional craft dates to the era of Tipu Sultan’s rule about two centuries ago. It is said that he invited artisans from Persia to visit and train local artisans in this field. This how now become an age-old tradition and heritage of Channapatna region to craft wooden artifacts.

Characteristics of Channapatna Woodcraft:

For as long as this art form existed, Channapatna woodcraft, especially toy-making has been making use of ivory wood as the medium to craft on. Artists continued to maintain this legacy along with another striking feature of using natural pigments for coloring, hence making them very eco-friendly.

Did you know that this craft of wooden toys has been given Geographical Indicator (GI) status?

The process of Wood crafting:

As mentioned earlier, traditional artisans often use Ivory wood for carving and rarely make use of Rosewood and Sandalwood.

They procure their raw material from the local market which readily supplies them with adequate quantities of wood. However, deforestation has made the supplies of wood rather limited.

The wood is then seasoned for about 2 to 3 months and then chiseled into desired shapes and sizes. This is the toughest part of the entire process and requires exquisite craftsmanship. Once shaped, the piece is rubbed with sandpaper to give it a smooth finish.

For the final finishing of the woodcraft, lacquer is applied and evenly spread on it which gives it a glossy and shiny finish.

Our unique Channapatna Collection:

We at ArtisansCrest proudly display our amazing Channapatna woodwork collection on our online store.

Kaivarta Kutumbam:

Made using small pieces of chipped wood, this art piece depicts a typical scene one would find during a sunset in a coastal region. It shows fishermen returning from work while women look after children, prepare food and manage household activities.

Different tonal values used for depicting shades and shadows give the work a sense of depth and perspective making it look realistic and attractive.

Muktidaya- Lord of Eternal Bliss:

This elaborate and detailed sculpture of Lord Ganesha is carved entirely out of wood and is a testament to the craftsmen’s eye for intricacy and beauty. It’s glossy, dark finish gives this sculpture a very antique look.

Flower Vase:

Another example of our artisans’ artistic marvel is this flower vase which is so intricately detailed that it makes sure to catch all the attention in the room.

With beautiful floral carving all over it and having an alluring color, this is one that is straight out of a royal palace’s furniture catalog.

Pradipa:

This one is yet another very unique and not-often-found Channapatna woodwork. It is an ancient lamp which was in use decades ago as the only source of light at nights.

Did you know that some interior and rural parts of India still use them for day-to-day purposes?

 

Stay tuned to our blogs for more such stories of traditional art from different cultures of India. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

July 31, 2018

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Heritage of Odisha- Pattachitra

Born in rural Odisha and West Bengal and originating as early as the 12th century, Pattachitra is an art form that is iconic to the cultural heritage of India. Patta in Sanskrit means cloth and Chitra means a painting. Pattachitra is, in literal terms, motifs and pictures painted on a piece of cloth. 

This art form requires natural pigments and when traditionally done, takes up as many as 15 days to even a couple of months depending on the size, motifs selected and intricacy of the paintings. This style of art is usually passed on through generations and the entire family is involved in painting these.

All that goes into making a Pattachitra- Process:

To start with, a Pattachitra artist, called a Chitrakara, would need to prepare a Patta. For this, he needs to prepare a tamarind paste called niryas which is done by soaking tamarind seeds in water for a couple of days and then crushing and heating them to make a paste. This paste, when ready is used to hold two pieces of cloth together by being applied in between them. A generous coating of powdered soft clay stone is given about a couple of times to make sure it becomes firm. Once the cloth is dry, one soft stone and one hard stone are used to rub the cloth with to make the cloth a workable canvas.

As this artform uses natural pigments, then comes the requirement of preparing colours. The gum of the Kaitha tree is a very important ingredient in making colours as this acts as a binding medium. Many naturally found raw materials such as vegetables, minerals, stones, and shells are used. For example, for a white colour, powdered conch shells mixed with the gum are used. Similarly, coconut shells are burned or black from the lamp is used for preparing the black colour.

Once everything is ready to use, the painter then makes a border and outline strokes of the motifs he chose and colours are then filled in.

Themes and cultural heritage:

Pattachitra paintings usually depict mythological scenes and folklore. One very common and traditional theme for this art style is Lord Jagannath and stories/ subjects related to him such as the Badhia or his temple, his incarnations on Earth including the Dasavataras, etc.

There is an annual ritual in Puri Jagannath Temple where during the Debasnana Purnima when the three deities Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra, and Lord Balabhadra and given a bath with 108 pots of cold water. They are then believed to fall sick for a brief period of 15 days when they are not available for darshan. During this time, the Chitrakaras are asked to paint three Pattachitra paintings of each of the deities for the public.

Key aspects of Pattachitra Paintings:

Pattachitra paintings, as shown in the image below, often pay tribute to the trio of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra, and Lord Balabhadra.

Borders constitute a very vital part of Pattachitra paintings and almost none of them can be said to be completed without a border. Some even argue that Chitrakaras start their artwork by making a border first. Borders are often floral as can be seen in the following image.

Pattachitra paintings, as in the picture below, not just make use of natural pigments but also often are seen being made in bright and vibrant colours such as blue, red, yellow, orange, green etc.

Like reading about art forms, artistic and cultural heritage of India and know more about our products? Stay tuned to our blogs and sign up for our newsletter.

September 21, 2017

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In The News - Artisanscrest Featured in Swarajya Magazine

The discerning team from Swarajya Magazine recently met with our team of art afficianados and spoke to us about the journey so far. 

Here are a few excerpts from the article:

On our Creative Vision:

India has a rich heritage of traditional art forms. They do not get the recognition they deserve. Traditional artisans follow time-honoured methods in creating exquisite works of art. At Artisanscrest, we aim to bring these traditional skills and expertise to a global stage, so that the crafts are preserved for posterity. It is our dream to ensure that our rich arts and crafts not only survive but flourish in the homes of discerning art lovers, in India and abroad. Through our extensive and exclusive network of traditional artisans, we build a platform to market these arts, as well as provide a better livelihood for these artisans.

On the idea of 'Co-Creation:

We work with very fine pieces of art. It is our privilege to offer customers a chance to get involved in the creation process, making the artwork even more personal and unique. A small change here, a unique requirement there, and we bring to life the customer’s idea through a rich and lasting work of art.

 

On the challenges we face:

The challenges vary because of several factors. For instance, small statues are more difficult to make if there is intricate work involved. When we deal with large installations, it is a challenge to get large, monolithic blocks of stone to work on. If we are unable to work with monolithic blocks of stone, then it is a challenge to make the work look seamless. This is true for artworks on stone.

When it comes to metal, the challenges are entirely different. When creating a customised metal sculpture, the biggest challenge is to create a unique mould in order to build the specific sculpture requested by the customer.

You can read the rest of the article right here at: https://swarajyamag.com/culture/artisanscrest-an-innovative-dais-for-indias-traditional-arts-and-craftsmen

July 11, 2017

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The Story of Durga

Depicted as the Devi Shakti in the Hindu Mythology, Durga is the warrior goddess, whose mythology centers around combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace, prosperity and dharma of the good.

Fierce, protective and disposed to unleash her anger against wrong—she is violent for liberation and destruction to empower creation.

Durga is depicted in the Hindu pantheon as a fearless woman—sometimes portrayed with ten arms riding on a lion and other times with eight arms – each arm carrying a weapon - on a tiger

The goddess of power and strength, she is a multi-dimensional Goddess, with many names, many personas, and many facets. Durga, through all her forms, encompasses the essence of salvation and sacrifice. She is the mother of bounty and wealth, as also of beauty and knowledge, for her daughters are Lakshmi and Saraswati.

Being a warrior Goddess, she is depicted to express her martial skills. Her idol which usually depicts her in midst of the battle field yet her face is calm and serene. This tranquil attribute of Durga's face is traditionally derived from the belief that she is protective and violent not because of her hatred, egotism or getting pleasure in violence but because she acts out of necessity and marks the beginning of soul's journey to creative freedom.

Durga is often described as the influential deity, who won in her fight of good over evil, and ensured the spirit of ‘righteousness’.

The victory of Durga over Mahisasur in some ways is embodied by women in today’s testing times – struggling to save grace and dignity. In this patriarchal story today the honor and pride of being a woman does not just come from being a woman but also with the constant battle which each one of us fights every day.

Durga Puja, also called Durgotsava and Navaratri, which takes place right before the autumn harvest—which particularly is celebrated the Eastern part of India and Indian subcontinents is one the biggest festivals in the East. Durga Puja festival marks the battle of goddess Durga with Mahishasura and her emerging victorious and is a celebration of the victory of the powers of good over evil.

Like in the legend - the form of Shakti kills Mahishasur, and outshines in her battle against all odds—the example set by the Goddess of not feeling inferior at any cost needs to be understood in the present day context by all women.

At Artisanscrest, our skilled team of artisans and craftsmen have been inspired by this divine goddess and created several works of art paying homage to her. Get in touch with us today and co-create your own special masterpiece.

July 04, 2017

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Vaastu tips for positivity in the living room

The living room of your home welcomes visitors to your home and gives them a clue as to the personality of the owner. Your living room is a reflection of you, your behavior and is a showcase of your tastes, likes, dislikes and character. Therefore, it is extremely important to do a careful setting of your Living Room, so that it exudes positive energy and fosters healthy relationships.

This ArtisansCrest blog gives you a few valuable Vaastu tips to plan your living to keep your living room a positive and happy place.

 

The Entrance:

When locating the entrance, ensure that there is more space towards the right. The direction of the main entrance is significant.

While a North or east entrance, bestows health, wealth, prosperity and fame. South, north-east or south-east entrance indicates success, but through hard work.

A west entrance bestows a calming influence which ideal for scholars. North-west entrance indicates development in all spheres.

South-west entrance is inauspicious. Its negative influence can be countered by shifting the entrance towards the west.

General Vaastu Tips for Living Room:

  • Avoid having a beam or girder running along the ceiling of the living room, since sitting under one causes mental turmoil and stress.
  • The ideal coloring of the living room is white and light green - this promotes a sense of togetherness and affection between the guests and occupants. Do not use dark shades except on the east wall.
  • Use light curtains on the windows and doors in the north-east wall and heavy curtains for the south-west wall of the living room.
  • Do not occupy the living room with too many objects. Keep some space in the north-east corner of the living room. Ensure that it remains clean and clutter-free. Enhance the tranquility of this space by placing a few potted plants.
  • Place the TV and the air conditioner in the south-east or the Agni corner.
  • To generate some positive energy and elevate the mood, display paintings depicting beauty of nature or scenery that adds tranquility to the room. It’s best to avoid disturbing pictures of war, wild animals, horror, etc. and even those of the deceased family members.
  • Displaying artificial flowers or dried flowers deemed inauspicious or misfortunes as they represent the autumn season. Refrain also, form keeping a cacti or bonsai as they bring about a negative impact on the careers and financial prospects of the occupants.
  • Hang heavy chandelier lights the room brightly and brings in a sense of positivity. However it’s best to hang it in the south or west of the room. Avoid hanging it in the exact centre (Brahmsthan).
  • Placing a neat fish aquarium in the east with bright colored fishes as pet reduces high blood pressure, stress, anxiousness and many more diseases are cured by staring at tranquil beauty of fish aquariums.

The perfect location of a living room is essentially based on the direction your house faces. The living room can be constructed in the northeast for a house that faces north or east. For a house which faces west, the living room must be in the northwest direction. For a south facing house, southeast is the best direction. Similarly, a living room can be in the central west, central east, and central south or central north of a house.

The living room is also the ideal canvas to showcase your art collection. Decorate your living room with some exquisite statues or magnificent paintings depicting scenes from the great Indian epics or Indian mythology. Welcome your guests into the harmonious atmosphere of your home with a statue or a decorative wall depicting the tranquil Lord Buddha, in a state of blissful and relaxing meditation. Let a statue of the Lord Ganesha, giving you luck and good fortune bless your home, your family and the guests in your home.

At Artisanscrest, our team works exclusively with architects and home designers to ensure that your purchase enhances your living room’s aesthetic appeal as well as placing them in the ideal positions to spread harmony, joy and prosperity throughout your home.

Get in touch with us today and co-create your own little piece of history.

June 29, 2017

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The Story of Arjuna and Chitrangada

During Arjuna's personal exile to serve his punishment for having broken a promise, he travelled the whole of India extensively. It was on one such trip that Arjuna went to the ancient town of Manipura, a mystic city known for its natural beauty.

The story of Arjuna and Chitrangada begins here. Chitravahana was then the king of Manipur. He always wanted a son but was given a daughter by the Gods. He named her Chitrangada and raised her to be a warrior princess, tough and fearless, not shying away from any battles.

During one such hunt, she captured the handsome Arjuna who was impressed by her war skills. Chitrangada, in turn was impressed by Arjuna’s charismatic charm, fighting skill and prowess but was afraid that he would reject her because of her manly behavior. She prayed to Kama Deva, the god of love to make her more feminine and beautiful and thus adorned, approached Arjuna. The gambit worked and Arjuna soon found himself falling head over heels in love with the warrior princess.

Manipur was under attack. Her citizens cried out for their warrior princess to save them. For the first time, Arjuna was galvanized by the woman who seemed to be his equal when it comes to fighting. Arjuna was further amazed by the true self of Chitraganda and found himself even deeper in love. Without further ado, he married Chitraganda and their union was blessed with a son they named Babruvahana.

The union of Arjun and Chitrangada, thus, was not just bounded within the periphery of physical attraction or that of lust. Chitrangada loved Arjuna for who he was, the noble, charismatic and talented warrior princess. Arjuna, in turn was not only attracted to Chitrangada’s beauty but also to her passion, her bravery and her desire to take up arms and answer the plea of her people in need. The couple loved each other for who they were, not who they pretended to be.

This delightful tale of desire and unmatched love has long since inspired traditional Indian artisans and craftsmen in creating exquisite masterpieces in the form of statues, paintings and many other such expressions. At Artisanscrest, our team of artisans have immortalized this tale in both stone and wood, capturing a fleeting moment of love and highlighting the heady feeling of being in complete sync through body, mind and soul with another being.

Our dedicated teams of artisans work closely with our clients in order to create exquisite masterpieces customized and suited to each customer’s individual needs. Get in touch with us today and co-create your own exquisite masterpiece and own a little piece of the great Indian artistic tradition.

June 19, 2017

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Race around the world- Ganesh and Karthik

A plump little boy with a head of an Elephant. Lord Ganesha: A very intriguing character from the Indian mythology. It’s not just his appearance which makes him likeable but also his witty nature and wisdom which makes him a very fascinating character among children too.

This story depicts a charming tale of a cute sibling rivalry between the little Ganesha and his brother Kartikeya.

One day, Narad Muni—who is often said to have created a lot of conflicts between the divine beings —visited Lord Shiva on Mount Kailash and gave him a mango. This, he claimed, was not an ordinary mango but a special one given to him by Lord Brahma.The one who ate it would gain knowledge and wisdom.

Lord Shiva was in a predicament. Which of his two sons should he give the mango to? Parvati, then suggested that the one who circled the world three times and came back first would get it as a prize. They decided to hold a competition between the two boys and make the mango the prize.

Both boys were eager to win the mango. Ganesha however understood that his vahana or vehicle, the mouse, would not be able to compete with Skanda's peacock and he could never beat Kartikeya. How would he win over Kartikeya’s vehicle? Besides, his brother was known for his active go-getting ways.

Kartikeya didn’t waste any time on thought. He jumped on to his vahana and zoomed off to make a quick trip around the Earth, three times.

In the meantime, back on Mount Kailash, Ganesha called his parents and asked them to sit together. Folding his hands, he walked around them thrice.

Bewildered Shiva & Parvati, asked Ganesha why he was moving around them.

Little Ganesha’s eyes twinkled, as he replied, “As my parents, you are the world to me—so when I went around you thrice, it was equal to going round the world.”

Pleased with his wit, Shiva and Parvati handed over the mango to him as the reward.

What do you think Kartikeya did when he came back? Well, according to one version, he accepted that his brother was smarter than him and deserved to win the prize while another story reveals that he flew into a anger and came down to earth where he sat and meditated on the Palani hills, in South India.

Ganesha has inspired artisans from across India to create exquisite masterpieces. Get in touch with us and work with our dedicated team of expert artisans and create your own piece of history today.

June 12, 2017

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The Para - A vessel from God's Own Country

Every culture across the globe has its own set of characteristic symbols that signify or symbolise prosperity. Close observation will reveal how intimately related each of those symbols are to agrarian prosperity. The scenario in God’s Own Country is no different.

Be it in temples, homes, weddings or anywhere else for that matter, one sight you are sure to witness is that of the nelpara. Para was the traditional paddy measuring unit used in Kerala households till the advent of modern alternatives.

Another from a long list of household items from yore that keep the people of Kerala in touch with their agrarian culture, the para or nelpara as it is known today, has woven itself irrevocably into the cultural fabric of Kerala.

The nelpara is of two types. While the nirapara is used for all auspicious occasions, the vadipara is used exclusively for the purpose of measuring.

In the early days, after a good harvest season, one or more paras of rice were offered to the Gods at the local temple. This is practiced even today during festivals and other occasions especially during Onam.

The nirapara filled with husked rice and bunches of coconut tree flowers placed on top signify abundance. This sight today is an important part of all traditional and auspicious occasions in God’s Own Country.

A symbol of prosperity, miniatures of the traditional nelpara are in high demand today. These miniatures are made both in wood and brass. These days, they are much preferred and sought after, owing to the touch of elegance, grace and old world charm they lend to homes. These miniatures ooze traditional beauty and reawaken a long lost cultural legacy.

At Artisanscrest, our teams of dedicated artisans have created exquisite paras and other famous Kerala vessels. These products can be custom made according to your unique specifications in a medium of your choice and in large quantities. Get in touch with us today and co-create your own masterpiece.

 

June 05, 2017

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The Story of Abhimanyu

Abhimanyu was the son of the Pandava warrior, Arjuna born to Subhadra, his second wife who was also the younger sister to Lord Krishna. The story thus begins just before Abhimanyu was born.

While Abhimanyu was still in his mother’s womb, Sri Krishna used to take Subhadra on day trips. To humor her, Krishna used to relate many of his adventures to the pregnant Subhadra.

On one such excursion Krishna was narrating Arjuna’s experience with the technique of Chakra-vyuha (a circular grid) and how step-by-step the various circles could be penetrated.

Nonetheless, Subhadra was not intrigued by the warfare techniques and she soon fell asleep while Shree Krishna recounted the tales of the Chakra-vyuha. However, although Subhadra wasn’t –someone else was interested in Sri Krishna’s narration– the yet to be born Abhimanyu.

While Subhadra dozed off, Abhimanyu continued to carefully follow Sri Krishna’s narrative of the Chakra-vyuha. But, after talking for some time and not receiving any response from Subhadra, Sri Krishna realised that she was savouring a sweet nap.

Sri Krishna, who had at that time come up to the seventh step of the Chakra-vyuha, gave up his narration and returned with Subhadra to the palace. The unfortunate Abhimanyu could never obtain the technique of breaking all the circles in the chakra-vyuha, but whatever he had heard Sri Krishna say, he carefully preserved in his memory.

Abhimanyu grew up to be a brave, handsome young man. And years later, during the war of Kurukshetra, on the 13th day of the war the Kauravas set up a Chakra-vyuha and challenged the Pandavas to come forward and break it. While it was only Arjuna (who was deliberately kept busy on another side of the battlefield, along with lord Krishna) knew the technique of breaking in and getting out of the dreaded formation, Abhimanyu came forward to take up the challenge of breaking the chakra-vyuha.

Despite his incomplete knowledge of the technique he entered the grid and overcame one circle after another until he come to the seventh one, the breaking of which he had no knowledge. Brave and ambitious as he was, he fought valiantly in the unequal struggle but in vain. Duryodhana and Dussasana shot him arrows from behind and killed him in the most gruesome manner.

His strength and bravery proved no match against the skillfully laid out maze of warriors, upon fighting whom, he met his end.

The death of Abhimanyu was a turning point of the war and the very next day Arjuna avenged the death of his son by unleashing a reign of terror on the Kauravas and slaying a thousand of them.

Abhimanyu remains the symbol of bravery and sacrifice. His deed has inspired generations and continues to do so.

Abhimanyu, the brave warrior has inspired artisans from across India to create masterpieces in tribute to him. ArtisansCrest, features the Prakranta in Woodcraft – accolade the bravery of the young Abhimanyu who gave up his life for the honor of his family. Get in touch with us at contact@artisanscrest.com to own this piece of Indian tradition or contact us to have our dedicated team of artisans make you a customized artifact, based on your tastes.

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