What better way to decode the culture of a country if not by exploring the creativity of the land. Indian crafts and artisanal works are one-of-a-kind and skilled artisans have maintained the tradition & culture of handicrafts that has made it a valuable part of our heritage.
Handicrafts are handmade craft and it is the skill and proficiency of the artisan/craftsmen that they use to create decorative and expensive items. Handicrafts are objects and items created by skilled artisans and craftsmen without using any machinery but simple tools. The diversity of Indian culture has also given rise to diversity of its art and handicraft culture. Let’s learn more about it.
Indian textile was always a point of attraction for the western world even during the 17th and 18 century. European craftsmen were not as dexterous and adept as the Indian artisan during that that period. Kashmiri shawl was one of the most famous textiles of India and Pashmina topped that list.
Pashmina shawl is made from the highest quality of cashmere wool. These beautiful and shawls are handspun and woven. This craft has been a part of the Kashmir valley economy for more than 250 years now. In the past, various dynasties such as Mughal, Afghan, Sikh & Dogra that ruled Kashmir, patronized this craft & luxury textile.
Exquisite embroidery, vibrant colors, this expensive shawl takes approximately 180 hours to complete. The main production centre of this fabric is in old district of Srinagar.
From the northern states of India, introducing the rich and century old woodwork tradition that is an intrinsic part of the country’s age old handicraft culture. Regions such as Punjab are pretty renowned for the marvelous and exquisite wooden furniture.
Among the most distinguished handicrafts would also include the notable walnut tree artefacts from Kashmir. Down here in Chhattisgarh we still have the thriving wooden craft very much alive and part of our cultural heritage.
A very amusing and unique fact about the wooden toys from Jharkhand is that you will always find them in pairs. The woodcarvings of Goa give you the ultimate aesthetic fusion of Portuguese and Indian cultures. The woodcarving designs from Goa exquisitely highlight floral, human figures and animal designs.
Having the abundance of forests and wildlife, the South Indian wooden craft is quite known for its rosewood and sandalwood crafts and artefacts. Red Sandalwood handcrafts from Andhra Pradesh such as cutlery, dainty boxes and paper designs are pretty known for the exotic designs that represents the ingenious artistic creativity of our artisans.
Prominent regions like Karnataka are known for having quite prolific rosewood artefacts such as furniture, elephants, images etc. In Kerala, Kumbli wood is used to carve out amazingly creative and splendid figurines of females.
One of the oldest forms of handicrafts that can be related to the Indian culture is the pottery making technique. Talking about ancient times and we’ll find that even during the Harappan civilization the tradition of handmade pottery was pretty prevalent. In Northern regions of country we have places like Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh that are famous for colorful pottery designs, like orange, brown, light red, black and dark red.
The legendary State of Rajasthan is notable for the renowned pottery culture. The city of Bikaner is known for the painted pottery while Alwar for the Kagzi pottery. Also, we have Pokhran known for the geometrical patterns and Jaipur for the blue pottery.
The leather craft tradition dates back to Indus Valley civilization. In the ancient times, the artisans were skilled at making footwear, clothes, caps, bags, saddles, shields etc. out of leather. Even today, India is one of the top sellers of leather products.
You must have heard about the leather craft of Madhya Pradesh that is quite unique and inimitable and items such as shoes, bags, garments etc. are mass produced. Kolhapuri chappals from Maharashtra are world famous and these leather shoes should be a must buy item if you happen to travel the city.
Jute, the Golden Fibre of India is widely used for making magnificent and exquisite craft items. Not just cheap but also eco-friendly, this fibre is extensively used in crafting bags, bangles, stationeries, footwear, wall-hangings and much more. The prime jute producers in India are West Bengal, Assam and Bihar.
Shell craft in India developed and progressed gradually and there are mainly three types of shells that are widely used in shell craft in India, the conch shells, tortoiseshell and seashell. A lot of decorative and wide ranges of utilitarian items are designed out of these shells. Shell handicrafts include mirror frames, bangles, curtains, chandeliers, mats, decorative bowls, lockets etc.
Experience the inexpensive shell craft shopping in locations like Goa, Odisha, and Gulf of Mannar etc. where these artefacts are mass produced and available at affordable price.
Metal items are known to be durable and longer-lasting and that could be the reason why brass handicraft flourished and burgeoned so well through the ages. Various brass items that are widely used even today include wine glasses, vases, table tops, postures, perforated lamps, ornament boxes etc. Rajasthan is a known place where you can shop for exotic brass items that are relevant to our culture and tradition.
India is the largest producer of bamboo as well as cane and it was pretty evident that our artisans would take interest in this eco-friendly product that can be used in various artefacts. Bamboo craft is simple, unique, fascinating and anyone with interest in creativity will surely want to learn more about this handicraft tradition. We have bamboo baskets, dolls, furniture, mats, cross-bows, jewellery boxes, toys etc. that you will find in the bamboo craft shops of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam.
Phulkari means flowering. This beautiful craft is related to a style of embroidery that is pretty famous in India. This style of craft is quite old and can be traced back to the 15th century AD.
Spectacular phulkari work includes colorful flower embroidery on dupattas, shawls and other garments. Many present age designers are trying to innovate in this craft by incorporating this embroidery into bags, cushion covers, table-mats, slippers, juttis etc.
The art and craft of zardozi has been a part of our culture since medieval times but it reached its pinnacle under the patronage of Emperor Akbar. It is a style of intricate embroidery work that is done using gold and silver threads as well as pearls and precious stones.
Utter Pradesh is known for it zardozi work done of velvet and silk material using golden threads. With evolving craft the craftsmen have also evolved in their working technique. In India, you will find the best zardozi work in Lucknow, Bhopal, Delhi, Agra, Hyderabad, Kashmir, Ajmer, Chennai and Mumbai.
A few of the Government Approved Handicraft Shops in India are as under:
- Dilli Haat (Delhi)
- Kala Madhyam (Bangalore)
- MESH (Hyderabad and Delhi)
- Khazana in Taj Group of Hotels
- Ekamra Haat (Bhubaneshwar)
- Rajasthali (Jaipur)
The diversity of handicraft culture is just a part of the enormous culture palette that we have in India and coming here would mean immersing in the wide variety of experience that can be counted as abundance of learning and exploring about the land, its people, the lifestyle, the history and getting the quintessence of evolution of these crafts over the period.
This tradition of handicraft has beautifully evolved and while the contemporary innovation and invention does influence the craft it only contributes in improving it rather affecting the roots and heritage of the culture linked to the art & creativity. Visit India & become a part of it.