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The major handicraft clusters in India are in Varanasi, Godda, Shiva Sagar, Virudhunagar, Prakasam, Bhagalpur, Guntur and Trichy. The export of handcrafted items during 2019-20 was INR 2248.33Cr and during the year 2020-21 is INR 1644.78 Cr. India’s textiles products, including handlooms and handicrafts, are exported to more than 100 countries. The share of textile, apparel and handicrafts in India’s total exports was 11.4% in 2020-21. The sector is estimated to employ 68.86 lakh artisans, out of which 30.25 lakhs are male and 38.61 lakhs are female artisans. Various initiatives taken by the government are directed towards areas such as cluster development, availability of credit, promotion of exports, supporting environmental compliances, provisions of social welfare schemes for weavers, infrastructure development, availability of raw materials, brand building, marketing and R&D. Seven Design Resource Centres(DRCs) have been set up in Weavers’ Service Centres (WSCs) at Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Varanasi, Guwahati, Bhubaneshwar and Mumbai with the objective to build and create design-oriented excellence in the Handloom Sector and to facilitate weavers, exporters, manufacturers and designers for creating new designs. Handloom sector with 23.77 lakh looms engaging over 35 lakh persons. The sector engages over 25 lakh female weavers and allied workers. Handicraft sector is estimated to employ 68.86 lakh artisans, out of which 30.25 lakhs are male and 38.61 lakhs are female artisans. The sector is estimated to employ 68.86 lakh artisans, out of which 30.25 lakhs are male and 38.61 lakhs are female artisans.
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Since 17th century temples to stretched canvases in modern homes, Kalamkari is a time-honored and widely beloved form of traditional Indian art. It is a reminder of how art is integral to our sense of fulfillment and wellbeing, how it is synonymous with culture and tradition. It firmly make us believe that art is unique in its ability to connect us to our humanity and our history — and as a distinctly Indian craft, Kalamkari is intertwined with our iconography and mythologies.Kalamkari originated in the modern-day states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana several hundred years ago. It was first used to portray scenes from sacred texts such as the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Bhagavatam. These paintings were often displayed as decorative backdrops in temples, depicting the stories of deities.Deriving its name from the word ‘kalam,’ which means pen, ‘Kalamkari’ refers to a particular, intricate style of hand-painting onto cloth.There are two types of Kalamkari painting: Srikalahasti, which is the freehand drawing style, and Machilipatnam, which is the block-printing technique.
Banjara Needle Crafts is one of the most beautiful art forms of Telangana. Embroidery, needle work, combination of colours to make gorgeous designs and to bring out something eye catchy and unique are owing to the innate talents of human being’s creativity. This Needle Crafts art form originated from the Banjara sect who are the nomadic society in the regions of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Women of this sect, who did not have a chance to step out of their houses developed their creativity and innovation by means of making needle embroideries and over the years the skill is being recognized across the country and beyond.
The centuries old art has been nurtured and improvised by the women folk of nomadic tribes and has become one of the most admired forms in the fashion industry. Watching exuberant combination of colours unfolding as beautiful designs in fabrics is indeed a breath taking one.
Needle craft is the significant mainstay of this art form and it is amazing to see the perfectly symmetrical and geometric shapes getting evolved on the cotton or woollen fabric chosen for this work. Along with the thread embroidery, mirror works are also done on the cloth, which makes the entire piece of art more gorgeous. Shells and beads also play a vital role in making a complex design complete.
The unique features of the splendid pieces of this art are the usage of right type of needle and the colours of threads used. Sober colours of cloths are used for the works to contrast with the bright coloured threads combined with mirrors, shells and beads, where the beauty of embroidery gets enhanced. Bags, cushions, bedsheets, curtains, wall hangings, home décor items and women’s clothing are more popular in the markets beautified by Banjara Needle crafts.
Madhubani art (also Mithila art) is a style of painting practiced in the Mithila region of India and Nepal. It is named after the Madhubani district of Bihar, India, which is where it originated. Artists create these paintings using a variety of mediums, including their own fingers, or twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks. The paint is created using natural dyes and pigments. The paintings are characterised by their eye-catching geometrical patterns. There is ritual content for particular occasions, such as birth or marriage, and festivals, such as Holi, Surya Shasti, Kali Puja, Upanayana, and Durga Puja.Bihar could make its name in the history books and be known for its rich history. Apart from history, the state is also popular for coming up with beautiful handicrafts. One of the most popular handicraft items produced by this state is the Madhubani painting. The other one is Sikki grass craft.
Madhubani painting was traditionally created by the women of various communities in the Mithila region of the Indian subcontinent. Madhubani is also a major export center of these paintings.This painting as a form of wall art was practiced widely throughout the region; the more recent development of painting on paper and canvas mainly originated among the villages around Madhubani, and it is these latter developments that led to the term “Madhubani art” being used alongside “Mithila Painting.” The paintings were traditionally done on freshly plastered mud walls and floors of huts, but now they are also done on cloth, handmade paper and canvas.Madhubani paintings are made from the paste of powdered rice. Madhubani painting has remained confined to a compact geographical area and the skills have been passed on through centuries, the content and the style have largely remained the same. Thus, Madhubani painting has received GI status. Madhubani paintings use two-dimensional imagery, and the colors used are derived from plants. Ochre, Lampblack and Red are used for reddish-brown and black, respectively.
Mithila paintings mostly depict people and their association with nature and scenes and deities from the ancient epics. Natural objects like the sun, the moon, and religious plants like tulsi are also widely painted, along with scenes from the royal court and social events like weddings. In this paintings generally, no space is left empty; the gaps are filled by paintings of flowers, animals, birds, and even geometric designs. Traditionally, painting was one of the skills that was passed down from generation to generation in the families of the Mithila Region, mainly by women. It is still practiced and kept alive in institutions spread across the Mithila region.
Mithila art has five distinctive styles:
Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, Kohbar
Metal craft of Chhattisgarh are well appraised all over the world for its great ethnicity and graceful creations. Chhattisgarh is a land of rich culture and heritage and is home to many arts and crafts apart from fine museums, galleries and tourist attractions of the place. The metal craft of Chhattisgarh are sublime and exemplary in their natural designs with a trace of artistry.
Metal craft of Chhattisgarh includes different items that are part of the regular life. The metal ornaments are considered as one of the main items of the crafts of Chhattisgarh. The ornaments are mostly handmade and many tribal people of the Chhattisgarh region are engaged in the making of ornaments. The metal ornaments created by the expert artisans as well as the tribal people are very popular not only among the locals but among the tourists. The ornaments are made out of various materials like gold, silver, bronze and mixed metals. Chhattisgarh is not only noted for its metal work but it has its distinct style in creating ornaments of unique style made of beads, feathers or terracotta. The metal ornaments are a wonderful substitute to the age-old gold jewelleries. The ethnic look of the ornaments has a great impact on tourists and the people of other states.
The metal craft of Chhattisgarh includes the usage of bell metal which has been remaining the oldest metal object which is hailed from the tradition of the Mohenjodaro and Harrappa. The bell metal craft is practiced in areas like Lalitpur, Raigarh and Sarguja of Chhattisgarh. The Ghadwa community of Chhattisgarh is known to be the expert in this particular metal craft. Many products are made from such art such as vessels, jewellery and the images of the local deities. Even the Bastar district specializes in the preparation of items from the Bell Metal Handicraft. The artifacts created from Dhokra technique add a different charm to the metal crafts. Behind the superb metal cast images of the tribal deities of Bastar, Chattisgarh lays a rich world of myth and legend. Metal casting or Gadwakam is an ancient form of metal craft that includes intricate design work with its delicacies of form, line and modulation. The craft of casting metal by the lost wax process is called cire perdue in the West. The statue of a dancing girl, excavated at Mohenjodaro dated around third millennium B.C. with its intricate and elegant carving, stands as the evidence that the cire perdue process was already perfected at the time. This form of metal craft technique is practiced in India from the prehistoric age still survives and is used for making religious images, ritualistic items and objects of utility. This craft include sculptures of the Mahua tree, the Karma tree, of local devis like Dhanteshwari devi, Mouli devi, Pardesin Matadevi, or village folk, musical instruments, ornaments, oil lamps, household utensils and measures.
Though brass and bronze are the predominantly used metals in the metal craft of Chattisgarh, but other metals are also used in creating objects according to the demand and considering availability of the metals. An interesting characteristic of the metal crafts of Bastar is the abstract figures with long hands as well as their tribal Gods and Goddesses.
The Bamboo thickets are ordinary sight in the state of Chhattisgarh & the local tribes have been putting their craftsmanship to work to create great utility eco-friendly items. Craftsmanship of Chhattisgarh’s tribal group can be seen from multifarious articles of craft they produce using bamboo bamboo. Articles for decorative as well as utility purpose. Bamboo grows in abundance across districts in Chhattisgarh. It has been an ineluctable part of this region’s life style, used for making fishing nets, in building homes, baskets, Kanwad (load carrying poles), musical instruments and for food. Bamboo forms the basis of livelihood for the Basor community who make a living crafting objects made with bamboo.
Baskets and other utilities crafted by them are bartered in exchange for grain as part of ‘Gotia’ client-patronage relationships with farmers. Beyond these specialised commodities, making objects with bamboo is a widespread skill in this region.The attractive purse, file covers, bags, wall hangings, baskets and pen-stand displayed in the stalls of the fair attracts domestic as well as foreign visitors and buyers in a big way. The purse prepared from bamboo by the tribes is purchased by a large number of girl students.
The bamboo craft is a unique representation of the centuries old tradition of tribal Chhattisgarh women. The bamboo craft is a tough work right from collection of bamboo to transforming it into beautiful artwork. The cleaning of raw bamboo is a real challenge for the basket weavers as bamboo contains hidden worms. To remove the worms, the bamboo is heated briskly. Giving attractive shape to the bamboo is a long process and needs skill. The outer layer of the bamboo is peeled off and even the thin layer removed is used for preparation of different types of items and products.
In the Sarguja district of Chhattisgarh, the Rajwars, a farming community, dabble in a unique and traditional art form known as Painted Clay Relief. This art form is primarily practised by the women of the community and holds great significance in their culture. The Rajwars are primarily Hindu and follow the rituals and customs associated with Hinduism. They worship Hindu deities and pay homage to their ancestors. Festivals like Holi, Diwali, and Dussehra are celebrated with great enthusiasm by the Rajwars. However, their most important festival is “Chherta,” which takes place on the full moon day of the month of December. All the women in the community come together to decorate their homes. They paint the walls, doorways, and wall skirting of their houses, as well as everyday items such as shelves, using a technique called “Lipan.” This technique involves using unfired clay mixed with cow dung, which is painted white and then adorned with illustrations in ochre, blue, green, red, and yellow colours.
The motifs used in the paintings include representations of gods, animals, birds, trees, and human figures. These three-dimensional figures are an extension of the community’s rich artistic tradition, passed down through generations. The artwork is not limited to the walls but also extends to jhinjira (screens), patani (shelving systems), and dodki (storage bins) that are present in every room of their houses. The black colour used in the paintings is obtained from the soot of oil lamps, while the base white colour comes from choohi, a white clay. The creation process of these artworks involves not only the addition of new motifs but also the repair and restoration of existing walls and structures. This cyclic process takes place every year, bringing forth a variety of new design and symbols language that showcase the vibrant imagination and personal lives of the creators. The creations have included contemporary elements over the years that the community and women have experienced and seen.
The painting of houses and walls through clay relief is an artistic means for these women to express their worldly desires, providing them with agency to hone their creativity and engage in a beautiful community art that brings them closer to other women of the village. What you see on the walls may be stories and characters depicted in an age-old painting style, but is also reflective of self-expression and the deep connection the community harbours with the natural world.
Tattooing is an age-old tradition of India in general and tribal societies in particular. In Northern and Central India, tattooing is popularly known as ‘Godna.’ “Tattooing is found in primitive tribal groups like the Saharias of Rajasthan, Buksas and Rajis of Uttaranchal, Kelas, Kumeubas, Paniyans and Todas of Tamil Nadu, Chenchus, Konda Reddis and Kuttiya Khands of Andra Pradesh, Abuj Marias, Baigas, Hill Korwas, Bharias, and Sahariyas of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Asurs, Birhors, Korwas and Mal Pahariyas of Jharkhand, Bondos, Juangs, Mankirdias and Sauras of Orissa, Lodhas and Birhors of West Bengal, Riangs of Tripura and the Tribes of many other states.” Among Kerala tribes Kurumbars, Irulars, Mudugars, Paniyans, Kattunaykans, Vettakurumans, Mannans, Muthuvans, Kanikkars tattooing is generally in vogue.
The different types of tattoo patterns act as identification marks that distinguish individual from individual, one ethnic group from another and one culture area from another. The women of the Oraon tribe, living in Surguja and Raigarh districts, get three lines tattooed on their foreheads. The Bhil women have a characteristic bird like tattoo at the side angle of both eyes. This gives them a permanent long-lashed look. The bird and scorpion motif is found specially amongst the Bhils. The characteristic tattoo of the women of the Baiga tribe is a ‘V’ shaped mark at the centre of their forehead between the eyebrows.
Some common and popular patterns of tattoo are the staple choice of the tribals. They depict floral and geometric designs, horses, elephants with riders, scorpions, peacocks, and tribal myths. Generally, girls tattoo flowers, while small girls prefer single dots at various places of the face or a horse-shoe like half circle over their forehead. Elderly ladies like tattoos of scorpions, deers, peacocks and flower like patterns on ankles, hands and shoulders.
Contemporary Indian society has continued the pre-historic rock art tattoos as their popular tradition. Noteworthy Godna paintings are Devar Godna of Rajanandgaon district of Chhattisgarh, Godi godna of Surguja district of Chhattisgarh, badi Godna of Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh and Madhubani Godna of Mithila region of Bihar, done by Brahmins and Kayasthas to picturize the sacred Hindu Mythological texts Paswans design animals, minerals and vegetables on their huts rather than divinities Madhubani Godna artists use natural colours derived from bark, leaf, flowers, seeds of plants and trees, clay and cow dung. They wash handmade papers in cow dung and dry it before using it as a canvas for painting. They have started using synthetic colours easily available in the market. Now, colours obtained in powdered form are used after mixing these with goat milk.
Women in Jamgala, in Lakhanpur district of Sarguja, like Safiano Bai, Ramkeli and Budh Kunwar, have revived traditional Godi godna, by mixing natural pigments procured from the forest with acrylic paint to stabilize these on fabrics. Ladies of Jamgala now make table cloths, napkins, kurtas, saris, wall hangings and even bed sheets. Umadevi from Rajanandgaon district of Chhattisgarh is a noted Devar Godna artist. Santhi Batti of Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh has made indelible mark on badi Godna.
Modernisation has influenced the Godna art and artists to a great extent. Tattooing has shifted from body to paper, cloth and canvas. Female tattooists have played an important role in the dissemination of Godna painting in India and abroad through exhibitions and workshops.
Bastar Iron Craft (also known as “Wrought iron craft of Baster”) is a traditional Indian iron crafts that are manufactured in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh state, India. The iron-crafting work has been protected under the Geographical Indications (GI) of the (TRIPS) agreement. It is listed at item 82 as “Bastar Iron Craft” of the GI Act 1999 of the Government of India with registration confirmed by the Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks.
The iron craft skill is passed through generation to generation in Bastar region. Some tribal communities are experts in iron craft work and many of them became as iron-smiths. Among many communities Gondi and Maria are notable for the traditional iron-crafting.
Bidriware is a metal handicraft from the city of Bidar in Karnataka. It was developed in the 14th century C.E. during the rule of the Bahmani Sultans.The term “bidriware” originates from the township of Bidar, which is still the chief center of production. The metal used is white brass that is blackened and inlaid with silver.This native art form has obtained Geographical Indications (GI) registry on 03/01/2006. A end 17th century, Bidriware hookah base at Louvre, The origin of bidriware is usually attributed to the Bahamani sultans who ruled Bidar in the 14th–15th centuries. Bidriware techniques and style are influenced by Persian art. It was first brought to India by noted Sufi Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisti in the form of utensils. The art form developed in the kingdom that was a mix of Turkish, Persian and Arabic influences which were intermingled with the local styles and thus a unique style of its own was born. Abdullah bin Kaiser, a craftsman from Iran was invited by the Sultan Ahmed Shah Bahmani to work on decorating the royal palaces and courts. According to some accounts, Kaiser worked with local craftsmen and the partnership resulted in bidriware under the rule of Ahmed Shah and his son Second Alauddin Bahmani. Along with local artisans, the art spread far and wide and was handed over to generations as time passed.
Bidri art researcher Rehaman Patel shares that the awardees also had shown their skills by exhibiting varieties of Bidri art in foreign countries. There are craftsmen in this art practice who took this practice to national and international recognition. According to the census of India in 1961, Syed Tassaduq Hussain, a first National awardee in 1969, was the head of the Gulistan Cooperative Society in Bidar.
Process of making bidriware: Craftsmen chiselling silver inlay in the metal alloy. Bidriware undergoes an eight-stage process: moulding, smoothening by file, designing by chisels, engraving by chisel and hammer, pure silver inlaying, smoothening again, buffing and finally oxidising by soil and ammonium chloride.
Bidriware is made from cast white brass (copper-zinc ratio of 1:16). First, a mould is formed from soil made malleable by the addition of castor oil and resin. The molten metal is then poured into it to obtain a cast piece which is later smoothened by filing. The casting is now coated with a strong solution of copper sulphate to obtain a temporary black coating over which designs are etched freehand with the help of a metal stylus. This is then secured in a vise and the craftsman uses small chisels to engrave the design over the freehand etching. Fine wire or flattened strips of pure silver are then carefully hammered into these grooves.
Bidriware craftsman doing silver inlay. The article then is filed, buffed and smoothed to get rid of the temporary black coating. This results in rendering the silver inlay hardly distinguishable from the white brass. The bidriware is now ready for the final blackening process. Traditionally, the craftsmen of Bidar use soil taken from the grounds of a 15th century fort in Bidar, which is rich in potassium nitrate. The soil is mixed with ammonium chloride and water to produce a paste which is then rubbed onto a heated brass surface. The paste darkens the brass but not the silver inlay. The black patina is a mixture of zinc oxide and copper(II) oxide (Cu2O). It is the copper oxide that gives the patina its black color (zinc oxide is white). The ammonium chloride that is applied to the bidriware selectively dissolves the zinc on the surface of the brass, leaving a copper-rich surface that is oxidized by the potassium nitrate. The paste then rinsed off to reveal a shiny silver design that is striking in contrast against the black surface. As a finishing touch, oil is applied to the finished product to deepen the matte coating. The finished product appears black with brilliant silver inlay.
Bidriware hookah base from 18th century: There are several techniques employed in making of bidriware, tarkashi (Inlay of sheets), tainishan (inlay of sheets), zarnishan (low relief), Zarbuland (high relief), aftabi (cut out design in overlaid material sheet). It is not compulsory to use a single technique for an object, generally two or more techniques are combined together. Most common combination is tarkashi and tainishan, seldom combinations of zarnishan or tainishan and tarkashi or aftabi are also used in different compositions. Majorly silver inlay is used as it provides better contrast with black metal, in few cases copper or precious metal as gold is also used. Most common types of motifs used are either floral or geometrical, with influences from persian, Southern India, and later from europe. Traditionally, flower motifs consists of asharfi-ki-booti, leaves (vine creepers), geometric designs, human figures, stylized poppy plants with flowers, etc. are commonly found on the items. Demand for the patterns of Persian roses and passages from the Quran in Arabic script are also in great demand in the West.
Earlier, bidriware was used for hookahs, paan-holders, and vases but now keepsakes, bowls, earrings, trays, ornament boxes, other jewelry and showpiece items are made from it. In Aurangabad, artisans also make patterns of motifs from Ajanta Caves especially Ajanta Padmapani which have become very popular among foreign tourists
Kinnal Craft or Kinhal Craft (Kannada: ಕಿನ್ನಾಳ ಕಲೆ), is a traditional wooden craft local to the town of Kinhal, or Kinnal, in Koppal District, Karnataka, India. The town is famous for Kinhal toys and religious idols. Recently this Craft has been granted Geographical Indication and its GI Application number is 213*.
Kinhal was once a flourishing centre for crafts, the most well-known being carvings in wood. The famous mural paintings in the Pampapateshwara Temple, and the intricate work on the wooden chariot at Hampi, are said to be the work of the ancestors of the Kinhal artisans of today. Old paper tracings found in the ancestral house of one of the artisans further substantiates this belief.
In 2007, students from the University of Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art in collaboration with the Crafts Council of Karnataka, facilitated a project with local students and craftsmen, in an attempt to revive the Kinhal craft. The artisans are called chitragara. Lightweight wood is used for the toys. The paste used for joining the various parts is made of tamarind seeds and pebbles. Jute rags, soaked, slivered into pieces, dried, powdered, and mixed with saw dust and tamarind seed paste is made into kitta. A mixture of pebble powder paste with liquid gum is used for embossing the ornamentation and jewellery on the body of the figure. Once the components of the figure are assembled, kitta is applied by hand all over, and small pieces of cotton are stuck on it with the tamarind paste. Over this is applied the pebble paste which forms the base for the application of paint.
Previously, toys depicting people involved in various occupations were popular; now the preference is for figures, animals, and birds. Garuda, the epic bird, has 12 components while Lord Ganesha on a throne has 22 components. The styling is realistic and the designing and chiselling has a master touch. In the festival season, clay toys and images are made, often out of cowdung and sawdust.
Cowrie is synonymous with Goddess Lakshmi, who is the giver of wealth and prosperity according to Hindu beliefs. The shell is worshipped during the festival of Deepawali and they were also among the devices used for divination by the Kaniyar Panicker astrologers of Kerala, India.
In Chhattisgarh, Irkipal town four kilometers from the Tokapal is a little habitat of the Banajara tribes who weave bright and colorful garments in cowrie and shell work.The craft is most significantly seen in tribal ornaments and costumes. However, along with being locally loved and admired, they are also popular among Indians and even abroad.
Folk dances are an important place where the beauty of this craft can be seen and appreciated. The Gaur Folk Dance is most loved among the Sing Marias or Tallaguda Marias of South Bastar. This native dance form symbolizes the hunting spirit of the clan. The word ‘Gaur’ implies a ferocious bison, and this is represented through their ensembles comprising of head-dresses frilled with stringed cowries, plumes of peacock feathers and ornaments of brass fillets and bead necklaces.
The word Kosa is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning silk. This Silk (The Finest Silk From Chhattisgarh) is created by small silkworms when they feed on the mulberry fruit and produce a kind of fine silk. This fine thread is then used to make the famous silk cloth mostly used for sarees. Kosa silk is drawn from the cocoons on the Saja, Arjun and Sal trees. It is obtained from an Indian silkworm Antheraea mylitta. This silk has great recognition for its softness and elegance. Because of its shine, luster, and softness, Kosa is quite extensively used for manufacturing traditional Indian sarees.
Each cocoon woven by the kosa silkworm yields 1-2 grams of raw silk yarn, equivalent to about 300 yards of thread. Depending on the design it takes weavers around 3 to 10 days to weave one Saree (46’’ X 168”). The step by step process is
Step 1) Cocoon cultivation – The cocoons are beige in color, with a golden tinge to it. The natural shades of this silk are honey, cream, and light gold.
Step 2) Thread making – This is done individually by thread makers and also in clusters.
Step 3) Weaving – every woven motif has a symbolic significance. Much of it is ritualistic and religious. These motifs are designed by weavers on a graph paper.
Step 4) Dying – the woven sarees are further dyed in Natural & chemical dyes. Depending on the end product.
Step 5) Printing/ Embroidery – The plain-woven sarees are now used for Hand block printing, hand painting, hand embroidery or machine embroidery.
Step 6) Calendaring – the saree is passed through a Calendaring machine. This machine has two rollers that apply high pressure onto the fabric and thus the fabric gets straightened and flat. This gives shine and finishes to the fabric.
Step 7) Silkmark – The Silkmark is a quality assurance label for the assurance of pure silk. It is aimed at the protection of the consumer’s interests. The Silkmark is a Registered Trademark. Not all the weavers qualify for it. So, whenever customers shop this gives an edge.
Bilaspur, Korba, Churi, Chanderpur, Sarangarh, Raigarh, Champa of Chhattisgarh are known for Kosa silk and its produce by Dewangan community. The production of Silk is the main livelihood for some of the villagers in the nearby districts and many of them have now started running units for producing Silk Sarees and dress materials for export.
When a few threads of the Kosa silk (The Finest Silk From Chhattisgarh) are burnt and they leave a black residue with an unpleasant odor, the fabric is supposed to be pure. However, if it leaves an ash-like residue, then the fabric is considered to be mixed with either cotton or polyester and hence not pure Kosa silk. Due to the rarity of the kosa worm and the laborious cost of cultivating it, the raw silk yarn is often blended with cotton or polyester.
At times the moth emerges out from the Kosa fal and ideally this kind of cocoon is not suitable for the extraction of fine Kosa filaments. So, this is used to produce the Gheecha yarn. The filaments are forcefully pulled off the surface of the broken Kosa fal. This is a by-product of Kosa fal and is commonly used in Phera & Khapa sarees.
Most preferred to be worn during religious ceremonies and auspicious occasions, Kosa silk occupies the pride of place in every Chhattisgarh home. Today, Kosa silk has crossed the nation’s borders and is highly sought after by designers in the US, Europe, and the Middle East, too.
It is an art of making decorative objects or of decorating surfaces using seashells. This craft is made of three kinds of shells conch shell, tortoise shell and sea shell. Bangles, forks, decorative bowls, lockets, spoons, buttons, curtains, chandeliers, mirror frames, table mats, etc. are the products of shell crafting. The shell craft is found on the sea shore like Gulf of Mannar, Goa, Odisha and etc. Shell’s are nature’s best decorative gift. Shell crafts shows nature’s exquisite beauty with most elegant fashion. Shell craft is considered to be very auspicious.
It is most oldest and widespread form of handicrafts. Historical records say that they have found remains of pottery and which is believed to be existed in 7000 BC in the Neolithic period. Apart from the popular terracotta and fired clay products, the other products are fired at over 1150 degree C. The very popular translucent form known as porcelain. The raw material for this craft is ordinary clay, derived from lakes, ponds and rivers. The clay is cleaned, mixed with ten shaped either by hand, wheel or moulded into desired object. Then they are dried, fired and glazed as per requirements.
Azulejos are found throughout Portugal on the interior and exterior of churches and are usually painted in blue and white. Seeing them on pilgrimages to Fatima, Coimbra and Lisbon and being in complete awe. They tell the story of the life of a saint, like St Anthony of Padua or they can be a geometric pattern like these. The images show the original plaster mould and the tile panel before firing, as well as other views of the title panel with white and blue glazes.
When Muslim families arrived in Moradabad with complex Persian patterns and sophisticated equipment, they brought the technique of brass making. The Mughals and the British both patronized brass workmanship. Brass is a copper and zinc alloy. Simply altering the proportions of these two elements yields a broad spectrum of brass. It has a golden tint that is comparable to that of gold. The discovery of metals made man’s life easier since metal items proved to be such a tremendous benefit to them that they could execute seemingly impossible jobs. India is well-known for its brass quality, which encompasses a wide range of products ranging from ornamental pieces to practical ware. In reality, India is one of the world’s top producers of brass. According to historians, the skill of brass craft has existed for about 5 million years.
A brass handicraft exemplifies excellent and majestic usefulness. Brass artifacts exist now thanks to the ancient artists who fashioned some of the most interesting ornamentation and practical goods. Brass handicrafts are well-known for their gorgeous patterns and impeccable craftsmanship. While a majority of these inventive brass handicrafts were for everyday use by ordinary people, several also got utilized in temples, palaces, religious sites, and royal residences. Because the motifs in these crafts were exceedingly appealing, the monarchs began to use them as emblems of power and authority on their attire, jewels, personal adornment, and crowns. Brass alloy objects are sturdy and long-lasting since they are alloys of pure metals such as copper and zinc.
Varanasi and Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh are famous for their wooden lacquerware and wooden toys. The craftsmen claim to belong to the Kunder Kharadi Samaj. It is an ancient craft and Varanasi has been a major center for the same.
Sal or Sheesham is the raw material used. Designs are created with the natural veins of the wood. These toys are made without any joints and are attractive and safe playthings for children. The colors used are bright and primary. The toys have a ritual significance also and are not made just for play. This craft plays a pivotal role in the lives of the artisans since when a child is born a new lathe is added to the family possessions. When a marriage is being fixed the boy’s family makes sure that the bride-to-be is familiar with the lathe.
Pieces of wood are cut out from the logs according to the size of the toy that is to be made. Each piece is heated slowly to remove all the moisture from the wood. This process is time-consuming. The piece is sanded in order to smoothen its surface. The wood is either hand-carved or shaped using lathe. Lathe is preferred for toys that are axially symmetric. In hand-carving, first the design of the toy is drawn on the wood. Then, the wood is sculpted with chisel and hammer according to the design. Once shaped, the surface of the toy is smoothened using a file and the toy is sent for painting. Toys are given several coats of paint, and finished with a clear or coloured lacquer. Paint brushes made out of the hair from squirrel’s tail are used for painting fine lines.
Passing by the tiny lanes of narrow Kutchhi houses of Nirona, you will find clusters of various art forms. The local Vadha community, a nomadic tribe in Kutch practise lacquer wooden art. Using simple hand-held machines, and locally sourced baboon trees, toys, spatulas, rolling pins and other kitchen accessories are crafted. Lac resin was obtained from some special insects found in the village. It is then mixed with natural colours from the bark of trees and stones to create different colours and textures. These textured designs are then coated with natural groundnut or coconut oil to give them a sheen. It also helps the colours last longer.
Papier-mache; French for “chewed paper”, is a composite material consisting of paper pieces or pulp, sometimes reinforced with textiles, bound with an adhesive, such as glue, starch, or wallpaper paste.
As a craft form, it is found in many places in India with the two distinct areas being Kashmir and Orissa. Papier-mache in Kashmir is known as kar-e-kalamkari or pen case work, a delicate decorative craft. It comes about in 2 stages – The first is the sakhtsazi, or the actual production of the item. The second is naqashi, when the item is painted with any number of motifs.
The design is painted, free hand. Often the painting is done in relief, with certain pieces of the design subtly raised. In Orissa, papier-mache masks and figurines are inspiredby the patachitra tradition. Mukha, masks, are made by using amould of clay and newspaper. Paper and cloth rags are soakedand applied in layers with locally made gum on the mould. Sawdust mixed with gum is applied smoothly, dried and burnished with sandpaper. As in patachitra painting, the colours are made from seashells and rocks.
Ikat is a fabric with diverse histories owing to its multiple origins; however, the name is a Malay word literally for ‘to tie’. It is a weaving technique where in the weft, the warp or both the yarns are dyed selectively through a resist-dye process so that the patterns emerge upon the criss cross of the yarns. Patan, the former capital of Gujarat is the home for double Ikat, which incorporates a very high level of intricacy and skill. It starts with dyeing both the warp and the weft and matching them to form motifs at regular intervals. This requires pre calculation of where the dye should come on the yarn (warp or weft), for it to accurately form an overlap with the same or different colored stretch on the second yarn (weft or warp), to weave a majestic double Ikat fabric called Patola.
On a Patola, the square represents security in every aspect of life. The elephant, parrot, peacock and kalash (metal pot) are considered saubhagya & (good luck). To cater to more lovers of Patola, a simpler version with similar visual effect but lesser intricacy and therefore lower price range was invented. The Single Ikat Patola of Surendranagar and neighboring villages came to the rescue of the weavers, the technique and the buyers in the region.
A king once grew so fond of his bedspread that he insisted his maids to let it stay on his bed for one more day, he muttered “aj ke din rakh”, the phrase which went on to be used to name that uniquely printed fabric as Ajrakh. It is also believed that the fabric derived its name from the sanskrit word ‘A-jharat’ or ‘that which does not fade’. ‘Azrak’, the Arabic word for blue could have also played a role in its etymology because of extensive use of indigo in the process. Ajrakh originated in the provinces of present-day Sindh in Pakistan and the neighboring districts of Kutch in Gujarat and Barmer in Rajasthan. Although Ajarakh printing is a part of Sindh, during the Indus Valley Civilisation, its roots extended to the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat in India. The Indus River proved to be an essential resource for washing fabric and acquiring raw materials like indigo and cotton which were ample along the river. The ingredients are all obtained from nature- from herbs, vegetables, and natural minerals. Camel dung is used as an ingredient to remove stretch from the fabric. The natural dyes used in Ajrakh printing expand the pores of the fabric during summers, making it easier for air to pass through. During winters the pores of the fabric close, proving warmth.
Rogan Art, an ancient skill with its origins in Persia, came down to Kutch around 400 years ago. Traditionally, the craft was pursued to beautify bridal clothing of the regional tribes, beautiful borders and floral patterns on Ghagras, odhni and bead spreads were painstakingly painted.For bearers of the seven generation old art are the Khatri family, for they appear to be the only family practicing the little known art in the small village called Nirona in Kutch. The process is time consuming. First the rogan (which takes its name from the Persian word ‘oil-based’) has to be prepared by heating castor oil to boiling point over three days, cooling it and then as it thickens, mixing in appropriate amounts of colors. The pastes of yellow, red, white, green, black and orange are kept in earthen pots with water to keep them moist. A thin iron rod, flat at both ends, is used to paint. The painting takes quite some time to be done on a small piece of cloth, depending upon the intricacy of the work and the type of cloth. If the work is very intricate, then a square foot piece of cloth could take around a month. The work takes time because first the outlining is done, then the work is filled, then after drying, the colors are added and then the work is done again. Drying generally takes two days. In case of symmetric patterns, to reduce the effort, the fabric is folded from the centre to get the impression on the other half, this also helps in creating effects like the background and the foreground.
Bandhani is an expression used in Gujrat for textiles where different designs are produced by tying individual parts of the fabric before dyeing. The Gujrati word ‘Bandhavun’ is derived from the Sanskrit word for tying ‘Bandhan’. The people engaged in producing designs on fabric as a result of tie-dying technique are known as ‘Bandhej’. The tie and dye art of treating textiles is fairly universal, with many ingenious versions scripting new genres in various parts of the world. The technique of resist dying by binding the individual parts of the cloth to shield them from the dye is usually known in India as ‘Bandhani’. There is ample evidence to suggest that the relatively complex process of mordant-dyeing was known to the inhabitants of the ancient city of Mohenjo-Daro in about 2000 BC. So, it is possible that resist dyeing was also practiced. Bandhani is highly popular amongst the Kumhar, Jat, Harijan, Meman and Rabari communities. The art of tie and dye assumes a different expression in every house. For instance, while the Rabaris prefer black stole with red dots dyed on wool, the Muslim population around here has great cultural sentiment attached to a large known as chandrokhani which is wrapped around for occasions like marriage. The Khatri, Parsi, Meman and Sonaar communitie have a particular penchant for Bandhani on silk.
In a great battle between Shiva and the asura (demon), Raktabija, every drop of the asura’s blood that fell to the earth, gave rise to more and more demons. The gods then turned to Shakti, the goddess Durga, to annihilate the asuras. The fierce goddess pierced the demon’s body and drank all his blood, thus saving both the worlds. The goddess in her seven forms is now worshipped during the nine days of Navaratri festival. Mata ni pachedi literally means “behind the mother goddess”, and is a cloth that constitutes a temple of the goddess. When people of the nomadic Vaghari community of Gujarat were barred from entering temples, they made their own shrines with depictions of the Mother Goddess on cloth. This ingenuous solution is believed to be the origin of Mata ni Pachedi, the sacred art, which is now revered by all. The painting usually has a set pattern, with the mother Goddess dominating the central area in her mighty form, surrounded by deities and commoners worshipping her with equal reverence.
Mata ni Pachedi is also known as the “Kalamkari of Gujarat”, owing to its similarity of the Kalamkari practiced in Southern India and the use of pens (kalam) fashioned out of bamboo sticks, for painting. To quicken the process and meet demands of villagers, who would commission paintings to offer to the mother goddess on fulfillment of wishes, the painters started using mud blocks for printing. These blocks were large and coarse, and after using a few times, would be thrown in the river where they returned to the soil. Over the course of time, wooden blocks replaced mud blocks, facilitating the use of finer motifs. Yet, the craftsmen still often make the entire painting with the bamboo “kalam”, using blocks only for printing the borders.
The Pithora paintings trail back long into history and find their roots in the cave paintings, thousands of years old. This is the most prevalent and characteristic art tradition of the Rathwa community, who live in the region bordering Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh states in India. While the styles vary with every Bhil group, they hold a deep social relevance. Pithora paintings are characterized by the seven horses representing the seven hills that surround the area where the Rathwas reside. This is enclosed within a rectangular fence in the painting that defines thisgeographical area. This rectangle usually extends up to the Arabian Sea in the west, Bharuch in south and Indore in north and east. The wavy line depicting the river Narmada cuts through the painting.Things like fields, trees, farms, wild life, birds, sun and moon are present in their relative positions in the map along with people and their ancestors. Even modern elements like railway tracks, aeroplanes, and computers feature in the paintings, thus making the Pithora paintings a real description of the world of Rathwa tribe. Pithora painting has various connotations. One meaning attached to the Pithora Paintings is the idea of a map. This tradition is supposed to have started in the 11th century, when Bharuch was a centre for traders from the North. Pithora paintings are sometimes considered very sacred. The Rathwas consult the village Tantrik (witch doctor) to heal illnesses and undo bad omens. If a wish made to “Baba Pithora” is granted, a Pithora painting has to be made in the main wall of the house, in consultation with the Tantrik.
It is not just kaleidoscopic embroideries that Gujarat is so famous for; it is also the home of wonderful weaves that combine impressive skill and generations of expertise, with the result of pure aesthetic joy. Reaffirming that appearances are deceptive, the spectacular Mashru weaving has the appearance of glistening silk that conceals the soothing feel of cotton. Mashru has characteristic bright contrasting stripes in vibrant colours, instantly uplifting the spirits of a desert traveler. It seems that to make up for the lack of colour in the dry barren deserts, the makers of this fabric put every possible colour together in wonderful, lustrous compositions. Blending the opulence of silk and the comfort of cotton, this magic fabric in its multicoloured stripes and ikat patterns has been a favourite among those with a taste for luxury. Mashru is not just a luxurious fabric;it also has a very practical utility. While the silk on the outer surface has a beautiful, glossy appearance, the cotton yarns in the back soak up sweat and keep the wearer cool in the hot climate of the deserts. Mashru weaving is an old tradition in India and this textile was traded to Arabian countries. Mashru means “permitted” in Arabic and it is believed that this textile got this name when Muslim men, who were not allowed to wear silk, started wearing this fabric. Since the body is in contact with cotton and silk is only the exterior, they got approval to wear this luxurious fabric. Slowly, it became liked by Hindus also and these days, this fabric can be seen in the clothes of Kutchi nomads. While the small dotted pattern is preferred in Anjar, Kutch, thestriped ones are liked all over the country. Traditionally used in garments, Mashru is also used for making quilts, cushions and bags. The craftsmen have also developed ne designs, by tie-dyeing the fabric using ‘Bandhani’ technique.
Gujarat is famous all over the world for its embroideries and mirrorwork. There are about 16 different types of embroideries done in the Kutch region, but the most well known one, with its chain stitches and countless mirrors, is the Rabari embroidery.It gets its name from the Rabari community, who are a nomadic / semi-nomadic community of cattle raisers living in the western region of India, from Rajasthan to the Kutch region in Gujarat. They migrated into this region from Sindh (now in Pakistan) about 400 years ago and many of their relatives still live there. They have wonderful stories about their origin, ranging from a connection with Shiva to Rajputs going outside their territories. Rabari, or “Rahabari” means one who lives outside or “goes out of the path”. As the type of embroidery on the garment clearly distinguishes the person’s identity, the different communities of Rabaris can be identified from the type and placement of embroidery on their odhanis (veils for head and shoulders). For examples, the Wagadia Rabaris wear odhanis with embroidered borders while the Kachela Rabaris have designs in the centre of the odhanis. Rabari embroidery is characterized by chain stitches and a generous use of mirrors. The women depict the world around them, without the help of sketches or patterns. The only material used is a simple needle and thread, which they purchase from Bhuj, the nearby town. The stark landscape of Kutchh with its thorny babool and keekar bushes is given a new dimension with colours, by the vivid imagination of Rabari women, through chainstitches decorating the surface of cloth.
This print originated from the humble villages of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Gamthi print uses vibrant and bold colors and varied, intricate patterns. Elements used in this technique are mainly inspired by nature. Originally, natural dyes were used, but today they have been replaced by chemical and artificial colors. The main colors used were, green from henna, yellow from turmeric, blue from indigo, and black from rusting iron, about 27 different colors could be achieved through plant parts and metals. Made of seasoned teak wood, blocks are the main tools of the printer. With designs etched on the underside and two to three cylindrical holes drilled vertically and horizontally across the body of the block, the block makers of Pethapur ensure free air passage and release of excess printing paste, making their blocks so special.
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