Crafts have been a very integral part of the Indian culture. They were used as a tool for trading in the ancient times.
Our rich and diverse civilization has honed and imbibed handiwork from other cultures and made it our own, having said that we have enough home grown indigenous crafts which are unique and beautiful. Indian crafts are known all over the world for their distinctiveness and aesthetic appeal.
The tradition of crafts can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization. It has withstood the test of time and evolved. Today the traditional forms of handiwork are being incorporated in new forms and methods. Artists, designers and craftsmen from various fields are rediscovering these traditional forms and reinventing them.
Though a lot of the forms have become scarce and some even perished, most of the forms that exist and are sought after are listed here:
One of the most ancient and primitive forms of craft from our country. People engaged in pottery are called “Kumhaars”. Terracotta is one of the most famous forms, available in red, gray and black ware. Various items such as jewelry, utensils and decorative items, besides idols, are made using clay.
This beautiful handpainted clutch by New Leaf is reflective of the motifs of India.
Bronze, Iron, and alloys are used all over the country to shape various items. Boxes, candle stands, decorative items, jewelry and many other traditional items are made using metal. One of the more famous forms is known as Dhokra which is a non–ferrous metal casting using the lost-wax casting technique.It is prevalent in West Bengal, Odisha, and Bihar. Brassware from Rajasthan is another form which is world renowned.
The craftsmen as known as Kansaris. Hukkas, glasses, toys, figurines, fruit bowls and much more such items are made of brass. Every Indian household uses such brass products even now. Silver Filigree or Meenakari or Tarakashi is created by twisting threads of silver and at times even gold. Jewelry, paandans, trinket boxes, trays and other items are made using this technique. Odisha and A.P. are known for their filigree work.
Bone, Shell, and Horn crafts
Making things out of animal bones and horns is another primitive craft that continues till date. With restrictions on hunting for such purposes has been implemented by the government, the craftsmen make do with whatever is available freely and legally. Shells are available in abundance and therefore various items are made using the same.
Lamps, show items, boxes, pen stands, animal figures are just some of the things that are made using bones and horns. This art is prevalent in U.P., Odisha, Karnataka, and Kerela. Different kinds of goods like bangles, forks, decorative bowls, lockets, spoons, buttons, curtains, chandeliers, mirror frames, table mats, etc. are the products of shell crafting. Shell crafts are available all throughout coastal India.
Jute and Paper Crafts
India is world famous for its Jute products. There is a huge range of bags, stationeries, jewelry, footwear, wall hanging etc that are available in this range. Since West Bengal, Assam and Bihar are the largest Jute producing states, they lead the jute crafts market as well.
Paper Mache craft is another well-known form that is available towards the northern part of India. Kites, masks, decorative flowers, lamp shades, puppets, hand fans are made using various colored papers. This art developed during the Mughal era.
This handwoven handbag seems to emulate the jute weaves of traditional crafts.
Weaving and Embroidery
Weaving mainly refers to the process two threads which warp and cross each other to create a pattern. The medium could be cotton or silk threads it could also be any other medium such as jute or rope or any malleable thread from any source. The traditional cloth weaving centers are Gujarat, M.P. and Rajasthan. Embroidery is another very big handicraft of India and every state has its own typical and specific form of embroidery.
This open tote bag is beautiful, functional and the intricate design is inspired by the Indian embroidery.
Wood and Stone Crafts
Wood craft is again a very ancient form or craft. Skilled craftsmen shape wood to create toys, utensils, decorative pieces, lamp shades, bangles and bangle holders even furniture. The goods and varieties are immense. Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, U.P. Kerela, Karnataka are known for their woodwork.
Rock carving was always present in India. There are various sites such as the Ajanta Caves or temples in Odisha that are a proof of the efficiency of ancient sculptors of India. Today stone and rock carving have entered the commercial space in terms of small gift items, jewelry, utensils and decorative pieces etc.