Indian handicrafts are predominant part of Indian cultural roots. India is a country full of rich culture and heritage, this reflects in its art and crafts. Many Indian handicrafts like blue pottery, wooden crafts, dhokra art, block prints, kantha work, bidri work, marble art etc are commonly known worldwide. There still exist handicrafts that are lesser known but hold back to the eons old arts of India. Following are 7 mesmerising Indian handicrafts that you never knew about.
Channapatna in Karnataka is known as town of wooden toys. Craftsmen with their amazing skills make toys from wood. You might be thinking there are big industries manufacturing toys. But Channapatna has small scale industry where craftsmen make attractive and traditional toys. Some industries are so small that the work is done right outside the homes of these skilled artisans. But, the majority of them are shops where four to six people can work together. This craft of making wooden toys is an ancient family tradition that has survived many generations. It was a decade back that the entire industry suffered a huge loss because of high demand and competition from the Chinese toy market. It was the time that these toy designers had to shut the shop and go elsewhere in search of work for earning bread. But, when the world found that these plastic toys were toxic and not safe for children, the demand for these wooden toys raised again as they are made from wood and natural colours which is totally safe for the kids. Presently, these Channapatna wooden toys are highly demanded worldwide and have a major market place in countries like Europe and United States.
Did You Know:The Channapatna toys of Karnataka can be found in ‘White House’. YES!! Michelle Obama, during her recent trip to India was overwhelmed and very impressed with these wooden toys and bought some of them to take back to the White House as mementos.
(Image Courtesy livemint.com)
2.Bamboo – Cane Mats and Bags
North east India is known for its extensive craft tradition and tribal craftsmanship. You will find a variety of crafts like sholapith , pottery, ivory, wood carvings, beads of agate, pineapple fibre articles, bamboo-cane mats, handbags and a lot more. Out of all these crafts, bamboo-cane products are unique and exquisite. These products are made by skilled artists from Mizoram. Weaving is an essential part of mizo culture. Their significant crafts include weaving bamboo-cane pipes, mats, handbags, jewellery, musical instruments, table mats, place-mats, handbags and clutches made from cane bamboo material for gifting to your loved ones. Cane Indian handicrafts are also a great decor option for adding handcrafted look to your homes.
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Did You Know: There are 1400 species of bamboo out of which 51 are grown in Assam and used for making handicrafts, accessories, cloths and other decor articles. It is a best replacement of wooden furniture and handicrafts.
Enamel is the art of colouring and ornamenting the surface of metal by fusing beautiful colours over the handcrafted designs and decorating the products. Enamel is also known as Meenakari art. Meena refers to the deep blue colour of the heaven and Kari means handcrafting. This art work flourished in Jaipur and Udaipur in Rajasthan. Beautiful colours like blue, green, red and yellow are mostly used for enamel art. Gold has been used traditionally for jewellery as it holds the enamel better, lasts longer and its luster brings out the colours of the enamels. This art is just not confined to jewellery but also exists in decor products too. Nowadays metal products like bowls, sculptures, jewellery boxes and idols are decorated with enamel art. Gold with enamel is used for jewellery; silver enamel for bowls, spoons, decorative plates etc. and copper enamel is used for handicrafts like sculptures, figurines and idols. Even marble with enamel work is used for home decor products like wall plates, vases, animal figurines, stationery stands, key holders and a lot more. The jewellery with meenakari work can be washed with lukewarm water and detergent since it will not affect the design, while the Indian handicrafts can be cleaned with a damp cloth.
Did You Know: Meenakari art comes in three forms
- Ek Rang Khula Meena: Only the gold outlines are exposed and the single transparent colour is used to cover the whole engraved area.
- Panch Rangi Meena: In this form, five colours, namely, green, light blue, dark blue, white and red, are used.
- Gulabi Meena :Inspired by the pink blush of roses, pink is the dominant colour in this form of art. Varanasi is famous for its Gulabi Meena work.
Rosewood craft originates from Mysore, Karnataka. It is also known as Mysore Rosewood Inlay Art. The skilled artisans in and around Mysore carve various artefacts from Rosewood. Home decor made from rosewood looks royal and antique. Sculptures, paintings, wall frames, furniture, wall clock, chess board, inlay frames and other decor objects made from rosewood are highly demanded globally.
Did You Know: Unlike other woods, Rosewood is highly durable and is resistant to dry-wood termites. So now you can buy your favourite handcrafted rosewood decor without worrying about its look and durability.
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Kiritams are the expressive head gears worn by Kathakali dancers of Kerala. Indian theatre boasts a plethora of magnificent costumes and masks among which Kiritams plays an essential role. It is one of the oldest and important elements of Indian theatre culture. These headgear are made of wood, gold threads, silver beads, glass and artificial stones. Further ornamentation is in the form of woollen frills and various coloured foils, peacock feathers and quills. ‘Pacha’ (green colour) is for the compassionate and noble and ‘Kathi’ (knife) symbolises evil and demon-like characters. Every minute detail is taken care of by Indian craftsmen while making such remarkable theatre crafts. Similar wooden Kiritams masks are also made for wall decor. Vibrant shades of green and other colours are used on the masks for giving a realistic effect on the walls. This mask looks antique and represents its strong hold and value in Indian culture.
Did You Know: Kiritams mask has beards of 3 colours red, white and black. Each defines a character. Red bearded is vicious and vile; White bearded is strong, gentle, devoted and loyal; Black bearded is like Kali destroyers of evils. So choose the right character for your wall decor.
History of craftsmanship of leather products in Rajasthan is rooted in ancient India. Leather craft of this dessert state mainly constitutes of goods made from camel hide. Bikaner is popular as all the leather crafts are manufactured here. For tourist the leather goods are of great interest as a ‘work of art’ as well as chattels. Jawaja leather crafts are flourishing in Rajasthan with its uniqueness and style. These products are exported globally. The exquisiteness of Jawaja leather work is evenly stitched leather strips instead of threads. Two layers of leather are first stuck together then holes are punched with large needle like tools and leather strips are made to pass through the layers, binding them together. The leather stitches have a distinctive diamond shape that adds to the elegance of these leather products.
Did You Know: The Indian government designated Jawaja a region of high poverty and no resources, until National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmadabad was invited to involve with ‘The Rural University,’ new project for education and rural development initiated by Ravi J.Matthai.
- The NID teams which joined volunteers from IIMA were led by teachers and students, among whom were textile designer Helena Peerhenthupa and product design student Nilam Iyer.
- The teams moved to Jawaja to introduce themselves to some of the poorest lower-caste occupational groups. Over months, they would be accepted and work closely with the families of leather-workers.
- Today, Jawaja leather products have highest demands globally and the families making the products are earning well and living a better life.
(Image Courtesy -travelrajasthan)
7.Zardozi Embroidery Work
Zardozi work is royal embroidery art and a speciality of Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Agra, Kashmir and Chennai. Zardozi is a Persian word, where ‘Zar’ means gold and ‘Dozi’ means embroidery. It is beautiful metal embroidery, which once used to embellish the attire of the Royals in India. Zardozi embroidery work involves making elaborate designs, using gold and silver threads. Further adding to the magnificence of the work are the studded pearls and precious stones. This heavy and intricate style of design are said to have been brought to India with the Mughal conquerors. The techniques, tools and raw materials used to create Zardozi are the same across India and adhere very closely to the original and ancient techniques.Traditionally Zardozi work was done by man, mainly in Lucknow and Kolkata. Buy now in cities like Hyderabad, Chennai, Ajmer etc there are thousands of artisans, out of which about 10-15% are women. Many known designers have also been working in bringing back ornate Zardozi fabrics that still retain their classic, old-world charm and coping up with new designs.
(Image Courtesy -Handcrafted)
Did You Know: Lucknow is famous for Zardozi work, that it got a GI (geographical indication) status registered under the brand ‘Lucknow Zardozi’ for the Lucknowi Zardozi. With GI registration the craft has gained a global recognition.