Arts and Crafts of Karnataka

The marvelous creations of arts and crafts of Karnataka is evident in the palaces as well as the elite bungalows of the past. It reveals the royal delicacy and the expertize and efficiency of the craftsmen.

The arts and crafts of Karnataka lie in even the articles of day to day use like an earthen pot. The arts and crafts of Karnataka is traditional. They have evolved through ages from one generation to another. If you ever visit a handicraft village in the state of Karnataka, you will be stunned at the sight of the villagers who always sit in groups and enjoy their work.

The arts and crafts of Karnataka includes the works on various objects such as woods, ivory, stones, sandalwood, metals and so on.

Some important facts about arts and crafts of Karnataka are:
  • The works of wood especially the rosewood and the sandalwood are a delight to the tourists.
  • Ivory art is typical to the state and is so unique that the objects of ivory art have been preserved in the museums outside the country as well.
  • When we talk about the stone carvings in India we should always mention the name of Karnataka producing wondrous works on stones.
  • The arts and crafts of Karnataka is popular for the toys made of wood as well as of leather. Such toys include the puppets as well.
  • The Mysore paintings probably need no introduction. They are famous all over the world.
Thus, whenever you go to Karnataka try to visit the villages which have a hoard of craftsmen and artists creating the arts and crafts of the state.

Stone Carving

The art of stone carving in Karnataka has been a tradition through centuries especially in Hoysala, a notable town in the state. The technique of carving is so unique and well mastered over hundreds of years that an expert of this field can identify the type of stone simply from the sound they emit while beaten.

You will be surprised to know that the people engaged in stone carving designates stones as 'male' or 'female' while carving the sculptures of gods or goddesses respectively. The stone carving is made out of 'neutral' stones for other objects.

The experts religiously follow the norms specified by the Dhyanashlokas while doing the stone carvings in the different villages of the state of Karnataka.

Doll Making

Karnataka is located in the southern part of the Indian Peninsula and is known to the world as a seat of traditional Indian art and craft which includes the peculiar art of doll making.

The art is unique in its style and presentation. It is a characteristic feature of the Indian craftsmen, especially of those belonging to the state of Karnataka, that they can turn the simple day to day articles into marvelous objects of art.

Doll making of Karnataka takes up speed as the days of Dusshera approaches. It is the time when the dolls are evenly arranged on wooden platforms, decorated and displayed. The festival marks a nine day long exhibition of those dolls. If you ever go to the state of Karnataka during this festival you will find the people are ecstatic, colorful and in a real festive mood. The craftsmen from the interior villages in the state are seen busy selling their explicit creations. The craft of doll making is indigenous and often involves all the generations together. It is a memorable sight in a Karnataka village that even the small children are busy in making dolls with their parents and grandparents.

The regions of Kinnal and Gokak in north Karnataka and Channapatna on the Bangaluru are famous for doll making. It has taken a form of small scale handicraft industry in these areas. The people are quite occupied with the craft and to most of them, doll making is the source of bread and butter.

Mysore Paintings

The Mysore paintings originated in Mysore during the days of the Wodeyars. Mysore paintings form a significant tradition of the classical south Indian paintings.

The Mysore paintings are famous for their elegance, peculiar usage of colors and the stress on detailing.

It is almost similar to the paintings done in some other place known as Tanjore. Thin gold leaves are used in the Mysore paintings. It requires tremendous hard work, patience as well as extraordinary expertize and proficiency to make a piece of Mysore painting.

The Mysore paintings generally depict the images of Hindu gods and goddesses. The most notable and famous among the Mysore paintings is the depiction of the Lord Shrinath who is supposed to be the 'avatar' or the incarnation of Lord Vishnu or Shri Krishna. The painting is a colorful one with intricate designs where the Lord is seen against a black background.

Another very popular and frequently seen Mysore painting depicts Lord Ganesha on his Singhasan or throne.

Nowadays these paintings from Mysore form a much desired souvenir especially during the festivals in South India.

Ivory Carving

India especially the state of Karnataka is a land of elephants and hence a place which has excelled in the art of ivory carving. This art is unique and surpasses all other handicrafts of India in its style, representation and above all its beauty.

Ivory carving is a predominant craft practiced in the entire state of Karnataka. If you visit a village of sculptors you will witness people of all ages busy with their chisels, knives and fine files in making wonderful pieces of ivory craft.

The ivory carving depicts mostly the images of god and goddess. These include especially the images of Lord Krishna in various moods. You will also find the images of the mother goddesses.

Wood Carving

Wood Carving is a traditional art of India as also of Karnataka. It amazingly exhibits a person's efficiency as well as imagination which can transform a simple log of wood into a marvelous object of art.

The works of wood carving are predominant in various parts of Karnataka. Whenever you go to the state never ever forget to see the intricately embellished wooden ceilings, doors as well as lintels. They are ornamented with nicely carved patterns. These outstanding craftsmanship points towards the rich cultural heritage of this sphere of art in the southern part of the country.

Wood carving in Karnataka exhibits the traditional art of unique wooden handicrafts. These woodcrafts are employed both for utilitarian as well as architectural purposes.

Metal Ware

Metal ware is a traditional craft of Karnataka, a state in the southern peninsula of India. It provides means of earning livelihood to numerous families in the state.

The marvelous works on metals fascinate those who come to this state. It attracts the tourists and thereby earn money for the villagers who carve these extraordinary articles.

The metal ware of Karnataka has a rich age old tradition. They are used for the religious as well as the secular purposes.

The works of Karnataka metals are seen in the temple town of Udupi. It is known for the small images as well as the ritual objects of metal ware.
  • Karkala which marks one of the oldest centers of the Jains is famous for the metal ware icons.
  • Mangalore lying in the west coast of the state presents a wide range of metal ware especially in the form of household objects made of bell metal.
  • The metal ware includes the works of bronze casting, the best collection of which is found in Nagamangala near Mysore. The works here are specially known for the depiction of the anatomy of the human body.


Sandalwood Craft

If you ever go to an emporium belonging to the state of Karnataka you will inevitably get the sacred fragrance emitted by the sandalwood craft kept there.

The marvelous art objects made of the soft sandalwood are popular for their style, presentation and above all for their unique fragrance. It is often said that if a sal or any other ordinary tree grows in a sandalwood forest it gains the smell of sandal. The fragrance of sandalwood has a relevance with the Indian tradition, culture and religion. In a Hindu temple the rituals for the worship of the deity cannot be done without a piece of sandalwood.

The sandalwood craft is really an amazing creation of Karnataka. Mysore in Karnataka is known to the world equally for its vast sandalwood forests as well as the hoard of the royal elephants. A major portion of the sandalwood craft made in this area is found to depict the royal figures enjoying elephant ride. The intricate designs made on such sandalwood crafts of Karnataka are really astonishing and reveals the expertize and efficiency and above all the patience of the craftsmen. The unique fragrance of these masterpieces will take you to a world of holiness and eternal bliss.

Almost the entire state of Karnataka produces the sandalwood craft although special mention should be made of the highly skilled workers, the gudigar families of Shimoga, Uttara Kannad and Mysore districts. They are specialized in this field and their works really stand apart.

Last Updated on 27 June 2013 March 2013