Indian Crafts

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<p>INDIAN CRAFTS INDIAN CRAFTSCrafts are an integral part in the life of an Indian, despite the rapid social and technological changes that are taking place. In the Western world, special artists create craft objects and they are considered as luxury items. But in India like many other developing countries it is the main source of employment for a vast majority of the population, next to agriculture. Handicrafts can be defined simply as objects made by the skill of the hand and which carry a part of the creator as well as centuries of evolutionary tradition. It can range from the simple clay- lamps to the diamond -studded jewellery items. Handicrafts consists of objects created by skilled people for religious rituals and for personal use as well as luxurious ones created by specialized craftsmen for specific requirements. Handicrafts bring a great sense of grace to every home be it the poor hut or the opulent star hotel. There is a timeless quality in these craft objects, for they have evolved over centuries and continue to be made even today with the same sentiment. There are three main classifications of crafts. Folk crafts Religious crafts Commercial crafts People for their personal use, or for a limited client base create folk crafts. Folk embroideries done by the village women folk of India are a good example. There are craftsmen who are specialized in creating textiles or jewellery which meet the criteria set up by a particular group of people, usually a particular caste or community. They have their own distinctive designs and styles. Religious crafts are developed around religious centers and themes. These craft items are connected with religious institutions and relevant ceremonies. Various religious places in India are specialized in particular craft items. For example, Varanasi and Kanchipuram in Tamilnadu specialize in weaving clothes for religious ceremonies, particularly silk materials. Similarly Puri in Orissa, which is a big pilgrim center, is connected with crafts like patacharita- a painting on cloth and wood and stone carvings. Specialized craftsmen of a particular group who are specialized in a particular skill and who can completely master the craft do commercial crafts. They even have sub groups, which work for particular groups, and their tools and techniques may vary. The Weavers, the Dyers, the Printers, the Goldsmiths and the Carpenters are some of the commercial craftsmen.</p> <p>Crafts were an important commodity for world trade and they were a part of the economy in India, since ancient times. Trade links between India and the rest of the world existed from ancient periods. India being the home of cotton had textile trade with the Far East and the Western world. Indian textiles and their permanent dyes were accepted throughout the world. Roman trade documents mention that silk was exported from India to Europe from the 6th century A.D. The Arab sailors brought silver and gold from their countries and took back shiploads of handicraft objects from</p> <p>History of crafts in India</p> <p>India to the Far- East. In the North, caravans carried woven textiles along the Silk route and went right unto Moscow by the Fur- route. Under the good patronage of the early Mughals, India's handicrafts reached its pinnacle of perfection. Crafts like carpets, textiles and jewellery were developed into fine arts. The famed Mughal Emperors namely Akbar, Shah Jahan and Jehangir invited skilled craftsmen from all over the world and blend their native ideas with our own techniques and skills. Brocading and velvet manufacturing developed rapidly in India than in their native countries. But with the break- up of the Mughal Empire and the growing enmity between the smaller Princely states, local crafts lost their centuriesold local patronage. With the East India Company coming to India, the volume of trade reduced though they managed to strive. England flooded the Indian market with its cheap machine-made items, which ousted the homemade crafts. A number of craftsmen were turned destitutes overnight. Those who continued with their craft had to compete with the machine-made goods, that quality was made to suffer. Gandhiji's Swadeshi movement focused on the plight of the Indian craftsmen and on the need for maintaining the ancient craft traditions. After Independence, The Handicrafts Board was set up to look into the plight of the dying crafts. Slowly demand grew for these items both at home and also abroad. Recent export figures show that India is lagging behind in many handicraft commodities except in the case of gems and jewellery items. Despite the growth of handicrafts industry in India, the average earnings of the craftsmen when compared to other fields is very low. Hence the younger generation is moving onto other fields with only the elder craftsmen left over. The average age of many master craftsmen is around 50 years. Improving educational system and lifestyles of the middle class people contribute a lot for the eroding of the native crafts in India. Cheap plastic items have now flooded the market and people have left out the age-old clay and metal containers. They do not understand the harmfulness of plastic items, which may react with their food. Also they have moved onto wearing synthetic clothes avoiding good, comfortable and cheap cotton woven items, just for their patterns and cost. The need of the hour is assistance for the craftsmen to improve their techniques, availability of good raw materials, direct marketing channels, credit and enough wages and socio-economic benefits.</p> <p>C A R P ET S C A R P ET SDurreesA variety of floor coverings are used in Indian homes. The simple durree is used for making beds. Larger durrees are used on festive occasions over which pile carpets and other embroidered items are spread for the guests. Long strips of durrees are prepared specially for serving food for the guests during festivals and marriages. The durree is a cotton -woven thick fabric meant for spreading on the floor and it is an indigenous floor covering with a variety of designs and patterns. Weaving of a durree is a common sight in almost all of the Indian villages.</p> <p>In the states of Punjab and Haryana, the Jat women weave durrees for thei personal use. Jaisalmer and Barmer in Rajasthan produce woolen durries. Uttar Pradesh is an important center for the commercial weaving of these durrees. The durrees produced here have geometrical patterns woven in strips, diamonds and lozenges. The other centers, which are weaving durrees, are Navalgund in Karnataka and Salem in Tamilnadu. The Navalgund durrees are also known as Jamkhans. They are richly patterned and depict stylized parrots and peacocks. Normally rust, yellow, green and black colors are used. The Salem durrees come from a town called Bhavani and they are woven in silk and cotton. They are prepared in brilliant colors with a central pattern of lotus and borders with flowing floral patterns. Warangal near Hyderabad also produces durrees. The Bandha or Ikat durrees are being woven here.</p> <p>Carpets</p> <p>Pile carpets were probably introduced into India from Iran. During the Mughal period, this craft flourished in Agra, Delhi and Lahore. Kashmir developed this carpet industry in the 15th century during the reign of Zain-ul-Abidin. Here the carpet making closely follows the shawl- weaving tradition. It is specialized in designs based on Persian and Central Asian styles. The important centers of carpet weaving in India are Srinagar in Kashmir, Jaipur in Rajasthan, and Amritsar in Punjab, Mirzapur, Agra in Uttar Pradesh and Warangal and Elluru in Andhra Pradesh. Amritsar came into the scene only in the beginning of the 19th century. It has a tradition of weaving fine quality rugs and particular designs called Mouri. The designs are geometrical patterns. They mostly export their products. Embossed carpets based on Chinese designs are reproduced here. Carpets produced in Agra are of the finer quality patterns in red, ivory, green and black background. Fine quality carpets are also produced in Amritsar. Jaipur in Rajasthan produces medium quality carpets, which vary from 80 knots to 120 knots per square inch. Most of them are of the geometrical pattern. Mirzapur and Bhadoli also make medium quality carpet varieties. Andhra produces geometrical- patterned carpets of medium quality of around 30 to 60 knots per inch. They are mostly meant for export orders. Kashmir is also known for other types of floor coverings apart form the carpets they are well known for. Those are the Namdas, Hook rugs and gabbas. Namdas are made of felted wool and cotton and are embroidered with woolen chain stitches. The hook rug is made with chain stitch embroidery worked with a hook called ahri. A thick jute cloth is used and then it is embroidered fully so that the base material is not visible. The Gabba is a kind of an appliqu work done with worn out woolen blankets and Pattis.</p> <p>WOOD WORKS AND CARVED CRAFTS WOOD WORKS AND CARVED CRAFTSWood WorksThe tradition of woodcarving existed in India from ancient times. The early wood carved temples bear witness for this. Wood -carved temples are surviving till date in Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. In India, each region has developed its own style of structures and carvings. Local traditions and locally available wood varieties influence them a lot. Number of folk forms has been developed in woodwork all over India. Toys for children, utility goods and religious objects are the main ones. The whole of North India has a tradition of carved wooden doors with intricate designs, brass inlay and trellis work for the windows. Assam, which has extensive forests, has a rich tradition of wood works. Their places of worship included large carvings of mythical figures like half-man, garuda, hanuman, lion, etc. Also the carvers create a Simhasana wherein they place the deity to be worshipped. In Bengal, the clay houses have large wooden pillars and beams with intricate carvings. In Kashmir, the houses are lined with wood, with ceilings worked in geometrical patterns and lattice- worked windows made up of pieces of wood locally known as Pinjara. The state also produces many wood carved items like furniture, screens, boxes, bowls, etc. These are mostly prepared from walnut wood, which is in abundance here. Decorative wood panels used for ceilings and pillars is a special craft in Kashmir and it is called Khatamband. Gujarat too is rich in wood carving tradition. Sections of Ahmedabad city have houses with carved facades. Balconies jut out of the houses with carved and perforated patterns. Tamilnadu has a well -developed tradition of woodcarving used for decorating houses and temples. The Tanjore dolls made of wood form a part of the rituals followed here and they are also used for educating small children. Andhra Pradesh has a tradition of manufacturing woodcarvings for religious centers. The Tirupathi red dolls are meant for sales for the pilgrims. In a village called Nirmal in Andhra, carriers of the main deities called Vahanams are made by means of a soft wood.Another village called Kondapalli is famous for its toys made of Punki wood. Very meticulous attention is paid in their making. Kerala state has one of the richest traditions in woodcarving. The houses here have carved pillars and beams. Most of the houses have a carved family temple. Kerala wood -carvers also work wonders on sandalwood and rosewood. Kerala woodcarvings have strength of form, which is reminiscent of the murals and dance forms of the area. Large wood carved figures are prepared in the round as well as in relief work. In Punjab, old havelis have carved doors and windows. Woodcarving and inlay are now practiced in Hoshiarpur. Jalandhar is specialized in lacquer- turned furniture.</p> <p>In Uttar Pradesh, Saharanpur is an important center in woodcarving. Screens and room- dividers with carved patterns and ivory -inlays with minute details are produced here. Nagina is another important wood carving center in U.P. Manipur is an important center for Tarkashi, metal thread work, done in furniture. Sankheda in Gujarat is an important center for lathe- worked lacquered furniture. The surface is painted with designs on a lacquered background. This is used to give silverlike effect. Bedposts and cradles and toys for kids are also made here. Surat has a tradition of marquetry work, which is also called Sadeli. In this, different materials like ivory, ebony, sandalwood, metal having different textures and colors are used. These materials are made into strips with their width shaped as triangles, squares and circles. These are then joined by gum to get a geometrical pattern. Theyare then cut across into thin strips and pasted on a wooden background ,mostly boxes. Wooden blocks for printing in textiles are also made in Gujarat. The design is first stenciled on the wood and then the intervening spaces are chipped out. Karnataka is specialised in sandalwood carving. Earlier the deities were carved out of sandalwood but now boxes are their specialty. The Srigandha variety of sandalwood is used for this purpose. They have a distinctive aroma that sets them apart from other woods. Large boxes covered with mythological scenes are an important product of Mysore, Kumta and Sagar. In south Kanara, life-size wood carving of Buddha figures is carried out. Mysore city developed an intricate form of ivory -inlay on wood. The ceilings and doors of Mysore Palace are expressions of this special skill of its artisans. In Rajasthan, wooden figures of Ghangore, a form of Parvathi is worshipped. These stylized forms are manufactured in a village called Bassi in Chittogarh district. The village also specializes in making a wooden temple like structure, which can be folded into a book form called Kavadh. In Orissa, the main deity of the famed Puri temple, Lord Jagannath is reproduced in wood. A number of wooden masks are also made for the traditional Sahi Jatra. Nagaland has a tradition of manufacturing statues as well as Commemorative pillars in wood.</p> <p>CARVED CRAFTS CARVED CRAFTSStone-CarvingThe art of stone carving developed in India, a little later when compared to woodcarving. India has a huge resource of different variety of stones and our skilled craftsmen impart life into them. The Indian craftsman's mastery over stone is best revealed in the architecture and sculptures found in Khajuraho temples. The intricate carvings found at Sanchi are among the finest found anywhere in the world. Gaya, a pilgrim site for the Buddhists also has an ancient tradition of stone carving. The ancient stone carvers were guided by the Shilpa Shastra, which clearly laid the rules for them. The main deity was carved by specialists who were knowledgeable in the properties of different stones, their grain, as well as their proportion needed for the carving. The act of carving the deity was considered as an act of worship and was considere...</p>