Most of us love wearing custom T-shirts. They can be used to represent your favorite band, musician, or celebrity or to declare your solidarity with a social or even to express an idea. There are endless ways you can get creative with the artwork.
This includes anything from book quotes to sassy witticisms and idealist slogans and even completely random, unmotivated scribbles and splashes of paint that doesn't really mean anything and don’t necessarily have to. As long as they look cool and fashionable, some of these T-shirts serve no better purpose than brightening up your wardrobe choices.
However, sometimes, T-shirt art can become something more. They can tell you stories of where you’re from and give you a sense of place and culture.
In this case, I'm talking about a collection of T-shirts designed by The Manan that feature artwork that revolves around and is inspired by Kolkata. The collection features vibrant and beautiful designs that capture various aspects of the City of Joy, including scenes from everyday life to festivals and its many contributions to the country that gives you a sense of what makes it so unique.
Let’s go over some of the ideas that are heavily featured in the artworks, starting with:
Bengali Nobel Laureates
A total of four Indian Nobel prize winners are from Kolkata (six if you include Mother Teresa and CV Raman, who have been associated with the city in some way).
Abhijith Bannerjee, an economist who was brought up in Kolkata, is the latest in an impressive line of prominent literary and scientific figures from the city to have won this award.
The list, which includes the world-renown Rabindranath Tagore, Amartya Sen, and Muhammad Yunus, is truly a testament to the importance Kolkata has in India.
As the birthplace of so many brilliant historical figures, there is no doubt that the artwork serves as an essential reminder of the joy and pride that anyone who hails from Kolkata may feel at belonging to a city that has contributed so much to the literary, artistic and scientific world.
Maach and Mishti
You can’t pay homage to the city of joy without mentioning its incredible cuisine. The people who live here and those who visit equally share a love for maach and mishti (Fish and sweets) which is evident in the variety of fish dishes such as Macher Jhol (a mouth-wateringly spicy fish curry which will leave any seafood lover in awe) and sweets such as Rasgullas (ball-shaped dumplings of cottage cheese, cooked in light syrup made of sugar). Then there are streetside snacks such as Phuchka (also called gol guppas, these are a tasty mix of masala and sweet chutney that will leave you wanting for more).
A tribute to Dada
If you’re a fan of cricket like the millions everywhere in the rest of India, there’s no way you haven’t heard about Sourav Ganguly. A living legend and a batsman who transformed the Indian cricket team under his captaincy by overcoming impossible odds, Saurav Ganguly is undoubtedly someone that every Kolkatan is proud of.
An aggressive batsman on the field and a gentleman off it, he had a knack at bringing the best out of every player in his team. If someone were to say that Ganguly is the best captain India has ever had, it would be hard to argue with.
The best tea you can find in this city is served in little handmade cups of clay. Like everything else in Kolkata, it shows how determined the people are at doing things the traditional way and keeping the past alive. They are known as Bhar chai. It is a perfect blend of sweet and milk and an integral part of the city’s history.
The sport is so closely associated with the city to the extent that Kolkata is sometimes referred to as the Football capital of India. Featuring countless clubs and stadium grounds, there is perhaps no other sport that is celebrated with such fervor in any part of India as football is in Kolkata.
World Cup season takes on a life of its own in this part of the country as banners, graffiti sketches of football legends, and soccer street art in support of countries and clubs adorn the corners of this city. The obsession runs so wild to the point that some die-hard fans even paint their homes in the flag colors of the countries they favor.
It is a grand festival that is widely celebrated in Kolkata and is yet another example of the city’s willingness to uphold tradition. The entire city takes on a festive mood during this period as bright lights adorn street corners while pandals are crowded with devotees, and loudspeakers are set up to play religious hymns, chants, and other festive tunes. Symbolic rituals are performed elaborately in public as well as within domestic environments while the streets are crowded with sweet stalls, newly set up eateries, and fairs that stay open all night.
Relics of a bygone age
In order to truly capture the visual appeal of Kolkata as the city of joy, it would be a crime not to include the various buildings , monuments, and historically significant masterpieces of colonial-era India that welcome you throughout the city.
Past sights of flashing yellow cabs on roads and grand entrances, you are greeted with the Victoria memorial carved in white marble, St.Paul’s cathedral- a classic example of gothic architecture, the Marble Palace art museum and so much more.
What makes The Manan graphic arts so special?
The market is flooded with T-shirt designers competing to stay in touch with what is hip and trendy at the moment. This is where the collection by The Manan stands out by encompassing vital aspects of Kolkata’s rich heritage such as its contributions to the world of art and literature, the homely ambience of the streets that showcases the old world co-existing in harmony with the new- a fusion of the past with the present-as yellow taxis whiz by in the heavy flow of traffic past Victorian-era architectural buildings.
The essence and spirit of everyday sights that evoke a sense of belonging and hometown love are captured in a beautiful blend of fabric and color.
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