India stands among the topmost-rated culturally rich countries in the world for its art and culture. India has still managed to preserve its artisans, its art, and its handicrafts in various parts of the country.
- Pashmina Shawls
Pashmina is a fine type of wool woven in Kashmir. These shawls are made from a fine type of cashmere wool and it is entirely hand-processed in the valley of Kashmir. The old district of Srinagar is the major center of Pashmina fabric production. A single Pashmina shawl takes 180 hours to produce it. Pashmina shawls come with exquisite embroidery on them and keep you warm.
Woodwork is one of the most popular handicrafts in India since ancient times. Punjab is famous for its exquisite wooden furniture. Kashmir makes its artifacts from walnut trees. The woodcarvings of Goa are an aesthetic blend of Portuguese and Indian cultures.
Woodwork is a popular craft in South India where it is mainly done from rosewood and sandalwood from Andhra Pradesh and is used to make cutlery, dainty boxes, and paper knives in various designs. Madurai is popular for its rosewood carvings. Karnataka is famous for beautiful elephants, images, and furniture made from rosewood.
The tradition of handmade pottery is present in India since Harappan Civilisation. The potter occupies a unique position in the craft traditions of India. In Rajasthan, there are different types of pottery like Bikaner, Pokhran, Alwar, etc. Bikaner is famous for its painted pottery, Pokhran for its pottery with geometrical patterns, and Alwar for its Kagzi pottery.
In the past, ancient sages and ascetics used leather to make clothes, footwear, caps, bags, saddles, shields, etc. India and Madhya Pradesh are famous worldwide for its leather products. Maharashtra is famous for its leather shoes called Kolhapuri chappals. Apart from this, various leather items like shoes, bags, and garments are produced in India.
India is a pioneer for jute handicrafts and people visit the jute handicrafts fairs to buy these beautiful products. West Bengal, Assam, and Bihar are the leading jute producers in India. Jute craftsmen from these states have created a worldwide position in the field of jute handicrafts. The huge range of jute crafts includes bags, office stationeries, bangles, other jewelry, footwear, wall-hangings, and many more.
Conch shells, tortoiseshell, and seashell are three kinds of shells from which shell handicrafts are made in India. These shells are usually found on seashore like the Gulf of Mannar, Goa, Odisha, etc. Bangles, forks, decorative bowls, lockets, curtains, chandeliers, mirror frames, table mats, etc are different types of goods usually made from shells.
- Brass Handicrafts
The artisans dealing with brass handicrafts are known as “Kansaris”. The manufacturing of brass handicrafts is famous in Rajasthan.
Brass is known for its durability, and moreover, this feature adds to its advantage when used as handicrafts. Gods and goddess figures in different postures, vases, tabletops, perforated lamps, ornament boxes, wine glasses, and many more that are widely used in many Indian houses are made out of brass.
- Bamboo Handicrafts
Handicrafts made using bamboo are the most eco-friendly crafts made in India. Items like baskets, dolls, toys, furniture, mats, wall hangings, crossbows, jewelry boxes, and many more are usually made from bamboo. Bamboo handicrafts are predominantly prepared in West Bengal, Assam, and Tripura.
The Phulkari embroidery technique originated in Punjab and Haryana. The word Phulkari means flower work, which means embroidery. Phulkari intricate designs are made through vertical, horizontal, and diagonal stitches. The work is done with white or yellow silk floss on cotton khaddar and starts from the center on the fabric called “chashm-e-bulbul” and spreads to the whole fabric. Some modern fashion designers are incorporating this embroidery into jackets, bags, cushion covers, table mats, shoes, slippers, juttis, and kids.
Zardozi embroidery works are elaborate designs made using gold and silver threads along with studded pearls and precious stones. Zardozi work is mainly a specialty of Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Delhi, Agra, Kashmir, Mumbai, Ajmer, and Chennai. Intricate designs in gold are made of silk, velvet, and even tissue materials. The embroidery was done with pure silver wires and real gold leaves in the olden times. Today, craftsmen make use of a combination of copper wire, with a golden or silver polish, and silk thread.
- Saris and Silk
Banarasi sarees are among the finest sarees made of gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk, and opulent embroidery. Baluchari saris of West Bengal and the Mooga and Assam silk of Assam, the Kanchipuram saris of Tamil Nadu are a few other famous types. Andhra Pradesh is known for Gadwal and Kothakota and Maharashtra is famous for Paithani Saris.
- Carpet Weaving
Carpet weaving is another unique craft in North India. Uttar Pradesh is the largest carpet-weaving industry in the country. More than 500 carpet manufacturing factories were spotted in the city of Bidohi making it the home to the leading hand-knotted carpet weaving industry hubs in South Asia. Jammu and Kashmir are also known for their silk carpets.
Tie-Dye originated from the state of Gujarat and is commonly known as Bandhani and Bandhej. The Chokidal style, Ambaliya with square, dots, or corner designs are some of them. A process is done by people where they use natural colors that represent the culture making Bandhani never go out of style in the modern era. Tie-Dye is also making a name by incorporating itself in western tops, jeans, or scarves. Visit the Jamnagar and Mandvi bazaar areas in Gujarat for unique collections of dupattas, kurtas, blouses, and sarees.
We have seen that each region of India is endowed with unique handicrafts of its own. Through all these generations, the tradition of craft has evolved. Today, there is a quest for innovation and invention that continues to give each craft a contemporary look. But, it is equally important for us to preserve our Indian heritage and ancient cultures.