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Regional Handicrafts: A Definitive Guide to Decorating Your Home in an Ethnic Way

India, indubitably, is a land of diversity and heterogeneity. Speaking of food, music, language, culture, art, history or even mythology, every region has something different to offer and flaunt. No matter which part of India you belong to, your home can now look ethnically and culturally different.

Want to know how?

Read on…

First, we'll take a look at the different traditional handicrafts of India; where they are majorly found along with the discrete products, made out of them, that you can introduce into your homes. Next we’ll take a glimpse of few cities that specialize in the making of some amazing handiwork.

Different Forms of Handicrafts

a) Dhokra

It is the oldest and simplest form of handicraft that portrays folk characters.

Dhokra art | Photo Credit: pinterest.com

Products:

Show pieces, jewelry, ash trays, candle stand, pen stand

Famous in:

Madhya Pradesh (originated), West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha

b) Clay

Since its origin during the Indus Valley Civilization, clay is considered as one of the most primitive forms of handicrafts. The artisans are known as kumhaars and are involved mainly in the making of terracotta, redware, blackware and grayware crafts.

Clay dolls of Krishnanagar | Photo Credit: sanskkriti.blogspot.com

Products:

Jewelry, decor items, clay pots

Famous in:

West Bengal (Bishnupur and Krishnanagar), Pune, Lucknow, Bikaner and Himachal Pradesh.

c) Rock/ Stone

It is another primitive craft form. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are famous for marble stone carvings. While patharkatti is unique to Gaya, green colored stone art is distinctive of Madhya Pradesh.

Hand-painted stone-crafted mandala | Photo Credit: pinterest.com

Products:

Utensils, décor items, statues and stone jewelry.

Famous in:

Rajasthan, Odisha, Nagpur, Gaya and Madhya Pradesh

d) Wood

Wood is believed to have come into existence even before stone sculptures.

Wooden handicrafts | Photo Credit: qualityhandicraftsindia.wordpress.com

Products:

Lamp shades, jewelry boxes, vermilion boxes, utensils, candle stands, decorative pieces, etc

Famous in:

Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh

e) Bamboo

All handiwork made of bamboo is considered eco-friendly.

Bamboo handicrafts | Photo Credit: blog.getshholidays.com

Products:

Furniture, mats, wall hangings, chalani, dolls, baskets, toys, khorahi, kula, dukula, kathi, etc.

Famous in:

West Bengal, Assam and Tripura

f) Cane

Cane is famous for being used in several utilitarian objects.

Cane sofa set | Photo Credit: getkraft.com

Products:

Trays, baskets, furniture

Famous in:

Vellore

g) Bone and Horn

Real-looking bird and animal figures can be seen in crafts made mainly of bone and horn.

Bone handicrafts | Photo Credit: creativecraftexports.com

Products:

Table lamps, pen stand, ornaments, pepper and salt set, napkin rings, laughing Buddha

Famous in:

Odisha, Kerala, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh

h) Brass

Artisans specializing in brass handiwork are known as Kansaris and these crafts are known for their durability.

Brass handicraft | Photo Credit: artzolo.com

Products:

Krishna and Ganesha’s idols, vases, table tops, wine glasses, plates, fruits bowls, etc

Famous in:

Rajasthan

i) Bell Metal

It is the harder form of bronze that's used in the making of bells.

Bell metal pooja set | Photo Credit: rareitis.com

Products:

Bowls, candle stands, vermilion boxes,

Famous in:

Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and Manipur

j) Jute

Known as 'Golden Fiber', jute is one of the strongest known natural fibers. Due to its production capacity, the Indian Jute Industry is considered to be the largest in the world.

Jute handicrafts | Photo Credit: simplecraftideas.com

Products:

Bags, backpacks, lamp shades, tray, baskets, carpets, bangles, footwear, wall hangings, office stationery items

Famous in:

West Bengal, Bihar and Assam

k) Paper

Vibrant colored papers are used in the making of paper handicrafts.

Paper handicrafts | Photo Credit: protree.in

Products:

Lamp shades, decorative flowers, puppets, hand fans

Famous in:

Delhi, Rajgir, Patna, Gaya, Awadh, Ahmedabad and Allahabad

l) Shell

Shell crafts are mainly made from tortoise, conch and sea shells.

Shell handicrafts | Photo Credit: blog.getsholidays.com

Products:

Decorative bowls, forks, spoons, mirror frames, chandeliers, curtains, table mats, etc.

Famous in:

Odisha, Goa and Gulf of Mannar

m) Meenakari/ Tarakashi

Meenakari is predominantly made from twisted threads of silver or gold. Silver is beaten into thin wires and foils that are joined to form ornamental items and are mainly of three types viz meenakari, khulla jaal and flowers and leaves.

Meenakari fruit bowl | Photo Credit: amazon.in

Products:

Paandaans, tea trays, trinket boxes and jewelry

Famous in:

Cuttack (Odisha) and Karimnagar (Telangana)

n) Weaving or Embroidery

Weaving is the method of producing cloth by criss-crossing two sets of threads (warp and weft), with each other.

Bandhani print sham set | Photo Credit: pinterest.com

Products:

Bandhanis (famous weaving form found in Jamnnagar and Rajkot)

Famous in:

Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh

Other Forms of Indian Handicrafts:

i) Enamel

Labelled as an exquisite handicraft, enamel handiwork are crafted in three main ways:

  • enamel is applied to the metal

  • transparent enamels are laid over a carved design

  • decorative enamel coating are applied either inlay or outlay.

Enamel handicrafts | Photo Credit: aliexpress.com

They are known to be perfect in both their design and finish.

Products:

Vase, decorative wall hanging plates, wall clocks, bowls, cruet saucer, pedestal dish, and jewelry box,

Famous in:

Jaipur, Varanasi, Lucknow,

ii) Glass

Glass making in India has been appreciated since the medieval period. While Mughals excelled in designing leaf-like motifs on glass objects, present day artisans have expertise in making crockery, bottles, bangles, beads, window pens, among others from glass.

Glass handicrafts | Photo Credit: dtdcecom.com

Products:

Bangles, black glass beads, chandeliers, lighting pieces, sculptures, crockery, bottles, paper weights, and glass pens

Famous in:

Ferozabad, Varanasi, and Purdilpur

iii) Lac

Though lac craft is an ancient art yet it's still in high demand for being trendy and auspicious. It's an amalgamation of both traditional and contemporary styles. It is a colored resin, obtained from wild trees, which is thoroughly purified and meticulously processed, before the final product is obtained.

Lac handicrafts | Photo Credit: amusebugs.com

Products:

Lac marbles, mats, bangles, toys, comb, bracelets, tea sets, jhunjhuna, animal figures, bedposts, cradles, flower vases, powder boxes, and vermilion box.

Famous in:

Purulia, Birbhum, Sambalpur, Navrangapur, Delhi, Punjab, Varanasi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Mysore, Harpanahalli, and Etikoppaka.

iv) Lace or Zari

Lace or zari work is done with thin threads, mostly obtained from superior grade cotton, and thin stainless steel crochet needles. Other threads used are silk, gold and silver.

Lace handicrafts | Photo Credit: turismoffida.com

Products:

Bedspreads, pillow covers, curtains, telephone covers, tea table mats, dressing table mats, wall hangings, etc.

Famous in:

Delhi, Lucknow, Murshidabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Dindigul, Mysore, Vishakhapatnam and Narsapur (Andhra Pradesh), among others.

v) Leather

Since its inception during the Indus Valley Civilization, the Indian leather industry has reached exceptional heights and is now exported worldwide. Different regions offer different leather products.

Leather handicrafts | Photo Credit: pinterest.com

Products:

Shoes, jackets, lampshades, pouches, bags, belts, wallets, stuffed toys, lamp, lamp shades, shoes, bags, toys and puppets

Famous in:

Rajasthan (decorative leather items), Bikaner (kopi), Jaisalmer (saddles), West Bengal (traditionally decorated leather items), Kashmir (ornamental leather products), Madhya Pradesh (red embroidered leather items), and Andhra Pradesh (toys and puppets)

vi) Marble

As exquisite as they look, marble handicrafts are meticulously crafted by skilled craftsmen using simple tools on high grade Makarana marbles with Meenakari and Kundan works.

Marble handicrafts | Photo Credit: kubercreations.in

Products:

Flower pots, vases, painting, mobile holder, pen holder, wall clock, pillar clock, pooja thali, tray, lamp, vermilion boxes, napkin holder, marble pots, coasters and key holders.

Famous in:

Jaipur and Agra

vii) Metal

The art of metal work has been practiced and perfected for almost 5000 years now. Different metals thar are used by craftsmen are iron, copper, silver and alloys like bronze, bell metal, white metal etc.

Metal handicrafts | Photo Credit: kubercreations.in

Products:

Pots, pans, utensils, photo frames, sculptures of deities, mythological figures and animals, vessels, trays, bowls, plates, samovars, photo frames, and boxes.

Famous in:

Ladakh (traditional iron and brass vessels), Moradabad (brass items), Varanasi (utensils), Jaipur (bronze sculptures, brass engraving and lacquering), and Alwar (Koftagari art).

Indian Cities Specializing in Famous Handicrafts

A) Saharanpur (Wood works)

Saharanpur, in Uttar Pradesh, is famous for wood works that are known for their impeccable finish. Woods of Sheesham, Dudhi and Sal trees are used mainly while Teak, Ebony and Mahogany are employed on demand. Tiles and metals are used at times.

Wood works of Saharanpur | Photo Credit: saharanpurweb.in

Products available are religious idols, artifacts, wood carved mirrors, furniture, cupboards, tables, trays and chests, tiny, easy to carry toys, carved key chains, vases and boxes, etc.

B) Odisha (Applique and Metal works)

Odisha is famous for applique works, metallurgy and silver filigree. In applique works, cut patches of cloth are superimposed or juxtaposed.

Applique works of Odisha | Photo Credit: mycitylinks.in

Tiny mirrors are also commonly seen on a colorful base fabric.

C) Assam (Terracotta works)

Terra (Earth in Latin) and Cotta (Statue in Italian) is the art of creating figurines from mud or clay. Dhubri village in Goalpara district of Assam is famous for terracotta works.

Terracotta works of Dhubri, Assam | Photo Credit: nezine.com

D) South India

Well, South India is mostly known for coconut crafts, Sandalwood crafts, stone crafts, mask making and silk weaving, let's take a look at what they are individually famous for:

i. Karnataka

Karnataka is known for wood carvings, stone and ivory carvings and Sandalwood handicrafts

Sandalwood handicrafts of Karnataka | Photo Credit: shivanihandicrafts.com

ii. Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is famous for its Kanjeevaram silk sarees, fine mats, objects made from palm leaves and Palmyra fibers, brass and bronze statues, metal ware, hand woven clothes, cotton and silk fabrics, stone sculptures and beautiful jewelry.

Palm leaf baskets of Tamil Nadu | Photo Credit: pinterest.com

iii. Kerala

Lace garments, embroidery work, snake boats made of ivory, gold and silver jewelry, spices, bamboo mat paintings, wood carvings, metal idol figurines, sandalwood sculptures, Kathakali dolls, Kathakali masks and doll making are famous in Kerala.

Woven bamboo mat of Kerala | Photo Credit: pinterest.com

iv. Pondicherry

Pondicherry is known for its perfumed candles, incense sticks, handmade paper, pottery, leather items, pickles, jams and Khadi

Perfumed candles of Pondicherry | justdial.com

E) Gujarat (Textile handicrafts and fabrics)

Gujarati handicrafts and textiles reflect a disposition for glitz, an eye for detail and an ardor for design. They also surge with color and are heavy on mirror work, giving them a funky, tribal vibe.

Gujarat handicrafts | Photo Credit: lithics.in

Famous styles include brocade (where gold thread is woven onto the borders of fabrics) and bandhini (tie and dye work). The tied and dyed fabrics also known as bandhej, produced exclusively in India, are perhaps the finest in the world. Mirror work is supposed to be huge in Gujarat

F) Kashmir (Woolen handicrafts)

'Paradise on Earth', Kashmir is famous for its shawls and carpets. One of the more popular kinds of Kashmiri shawls are Jamavars that are made of brocaded woolen fabrics, either in pure wool or sometimes blended with cotton. Pashmina shawls are unquestionably soft and their yarn is spun from the hair of the rare and elusive Ibex, found 14,000 ft above sea level. Although pure Pashmina is expensive, blending it with wool brings down the cost. Shahtoosh shawls are woven with the hair of the Tibetan antelope and are renowned for their lightness, softness and warmth. It's believed that a genuine Shahtoosh of any size passes through a finger ring.

Knotted Kashmiri carpets | Photo Credit: exoticindiaart.com

Kashmiri carpets are world renowned mainly for two reasons. First, they are handmade and secondly, they are always knotted and never tufted.

Got an idea on the different handicrafts of Indian states? So, next time you go shopping, you would know exactly what to purchase, right?

Madhurima Das

Madhurima Das

Madhurima is a microbiologist by qualification and writer by choice, emotional yet practical, sensitive yet sensible. She is always enthusiastic about good music, books, food, and destinations.

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