India’s handicraft tradition is very old and its origin can be traced all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilization. The rich treasure of traditional handicrafts of India comprises of beautiful metalworks, pottery, paintings, stonework, hand-woven fabrics, terracotta objects, and several other artifacts created from wood, bamboo, cane, coconut shell, jute, etc. These handcrafted pieces originating from different parts of the country provide an insight into the culture and tradition of the particular region as well as the diverse cultural heritage of this nation as a whole. Listed below are some of the popular crafts of India famous across the world.
Coconut and Coir Craft, Kerala
Kerala is the land of coconuts. Not only are coconut trees a dominant part of the state’s geography, but you will find coconut being used in every way possible, be it cooking food with coconut oil or creating handicrafts with coconut shells and coir. Neither the coir nor the shell is left behind as the artists of this state produce amazing works of art out of them. Eco-friendly cups, bowls, boxes etc. are crafted from the coconut shell whereas the coir yarn is artistically woven into highly durable carpets, mats, rugs, baskets, bag sacks, etc. Kozhikode, in particular, is famous for brass broidered coconut shell products. So, you can buy these beautiful handicrafts from their place of origin the next time you book flights to Kerala.
Kondapalli Toys, Andhra Pradesh
One of the vibrant crafts of India originated in a small village named Kondapalli near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. This artist village is known for its 400-year-old tradition of crafting pretty toys from a special type of soft wood called tella poniki. The artists carve each part separately and then stick them together with an adhesive, makku made from tamarind seed powder and sawdust. These wooden toys are then dyed with bright colors. Kondapalli toys are often based on the themes of mythology, folklore, and rustic lifestyle. Every household in Andhra Pradesh puts up a display of Kondapalli toys in a step-like arrangement during Sankranti celebrations and this tradition is called Bommala Koluvu.
Jaipur Blue Pottery, Rajasthan
The tradition of pottery in India has existed since the Harappan times. Experimentation with traditional pottery-making has resulted in the creation of various pottery designs that range from Bikaner’s painted pottery to Alwar’s Kagzi (paper) pottery. Jaipur’s blue pottery is probably the most famous of them all. It is shaped from a mixture made of quartz powder, glass, borax, multani mitti, gum (extracted from banyan tree), and water. The most impressive aspect of Jaipur blue pottery is the cobalt blue dye that is used in coloring this pottery and the beautiful floral motifs. You can easily find Jaipur blue pots, flower vases, plates, cups, tiles, doorknobs, and other decorative items in every street market in the city.
Karimnagar Silver Filigree, Telangana
Rich, elaborate, and delicate; silver filigree work can catch your eye even when placed among a plethora of handmade crafts of India. The painstaking craftsmanship of skilled artisans is visible in the fine details of the intricate lace-like patterns on filigree jewelry and other handicrafts. Karimnagar in Telangana is famous for its silver filigree crafts. Apart from filigree jewelry, you can also find various objects such as spoons, tea trays, ashtrays, plates, jewelry boxes, and perfume containers embellished by this gorgeous artwork. Karimnagar silver filigree also achieved Geographical Indication (GI) status in 2007. Filigree work of Cuttack, made with gold and silver, is popular too.
Stone crafts, Uttar Pradesh
Remember the exquisite stone inlay work embellishing the sparkling white marble of the Taj Mahal, one of the iconic tourist attractions in India? It screams the country’s fascination with stonework. The city of Agra is known to produce some of the finest inlay and stone crafts in India. The stone carving tradition in Agra is of two types – stone tracery (called Jaali designs) and inlay work (as observed on the Taj Mahal). The former is known for its ornamental floral and geometrical patterns and the latter for its impressive designs of semi-precious stones inlaid in marble.
Additionally, bamboo and cane handicrafts of northeast India, rosewood inlay of Mysore, Pashmina shawls and cashmere clothing of Kashmir, brassware, and puppetry of Rajasthan, Bidri crafts of Karnataka, and several other folk arts like Madhubani, Warli, Pattachitra, and Kalamkari paintings are among the famous handicrafts of India.