The word Usta is derived from the Persian word ‘Ustad’. Ustad the word itself describe the excellence of a person in particular art. Usta is a professional caste of artists residing in Bikaner the city of Rajasthan, India. Many different techniques are combined to make this unique art of Usta. Mughal Emperors brought this art of golden painting and embossing to India from Iran. The art was on glorious heights in the 16th – 17th century. His highness, the Former ruler of Bikaner, Raja Rai Singh, who was a general in the court of Emperor Akbar and was a contemporary of Jahangir, brought this art to Bikaner. He was highly impressed by this craft and requested Akbar to allow some of the Usta artists to work in Bikaner. Akbar accepted Raja Rai Singh’s request and sent seven Usta artists to work in the court of Bikaner. Since then Bikaner became famous for its Usta Art.
One can see the craftsmanship of this art in the Anup Mahal, Phool Mahal, Chandra palace, and Karan Mahal of Junagarh fort even today. As this art flourished in Mughal Era, the motifs used in Usta art are influenced by Mughal designs. Originally, this art was practised mostly on walls and ceilings. During the British period, it was felt that it should also be done on light materials which are easy to carry and maintain. Hence marble, glass, wood and camel hide are used for this art.
The Usta art is famous for rife embossed patterns like leafy, flowers, vines, birds, and animals with golden foil work which makes it more eye-catching and enchanting. The Usta art community here in Bikaner have been practising for a couple of centuries. The unique art can be found in intricate design pattern making and prevalent golden leaf work over the media like MDF/Wood/Camel hide (nowadays it is banned to use camel hide). The leading Usta artisans of Bikaner are well-known for multidimensional forms like meenakari and painting using gold foil on camel hide.
Artist Mohammad Yasin Usta son of Usta artist Ahmed Bakhar Ji Usta. He learned the Usta art form from his uncle Shoukat Ji, father and forefathers. His ancestors practised Usta art for a long time in Bikaner, Rajasthan. His maternal uncle Ajmal Hussain Ji got many awards like Rajasthan State Award, Rashtrapati award, and many more. He is practising this art for the last 15 years.