Apart from the lush forests, exuberant festivity, blissful solitude and magnificent monuments, this state located in the central part of the country of India is known for its rich tradition and culture, which gets reflected from the different works of art and craft. Handicrafts in Madhya Pradesh portray painstaking craftsmanship and hereditary skills of the inhabitants as well as add a unique charm to the state's culture. Those artistic pieces of crafts work include woven cotton or silk sarees, fabrics with block prints, stuffed toys, floor coverings, bamboo work, cane work, jute work, woodcraft, iron craft, stone craft, metal craft, terracotta, zari work, folk paintings, ornaments, dolls and papier mache.
Most famous forms of arts and crafts of Madhya Pradesh
The state of Madhya Pradesh has got numerous forms of handicrafts as mentioned earlier. However, some of the most popular among them are as follows:
Bamboo and Cane Work
Bamboo and cane, a significant part of the rural life, is hugely used to manufacture utility articles like baskets, fishing traps, agricultural implements, hunting tools and many more. The community manufacturing and selling these handcrafted items in weekly bazaars are called as Basod or Basor. The tribal communities of Baiga, Gond and Korku are involved in this craft as well. The skilled craftsmen of the areas like Balaghat, Bastar, Chhattisgarh, Mandla, Shahdol and Seoni have harmonized their traditional techniques and knowledge to prepare new designed crafted goods to meet the modern requirements.
Gwalior is known for carpet weaving since Mughal era. Mandla and Shahdol joined this world of craft later. Apart from being masters of carpet weaving, the craftsperson's of these areas excel in dyeing. Knotted carpets require emphasis on patterns. Vibrant woolen carpets with geometric and floral designs are an important crafted product. These designs are a blend of ancestral motifs and modern taste.
This is a kind of thick floor covering made of cotton, which is mainly manufactured in Sironj, Jabalpur, Jhabua, Raigarh and Shahdol. Woolen durries are available though. Durries are mostly prepared by rural women using the 'Punja' technique. Designed in bold patterns, these bright colored floor coverings have become a part of contemporary home decor.
This form of art of Madhya Pradesh has mainly gained its fame from the areas of Bundelkhand, Chhattisgarh, Malwa, Gondwana and Nimar. These paintings reflect the socio-cultural life of the areas. Paintings of local festivals are made of home-made colors by women. However, Bundelkhand has got a group of professional painters known as Chiteras. Painters of Chhattisgarh use mud plaster as the base of their paintings, on which patterns are engraved by fingers. This process is famously known as "Lipai". Women belonging to the Badi community of this region are famous for making tattoo. The tribal community of the Bhilala and Bhils usually paints myths, which is famous as Pithora paintings. The Malwa, Tanwarghar and Nimar regions are known for Mandana floor and wall paintings. The specialty of this painting is that drawings are made with white color on a base made out of a mixture of cow dung and red clay.
Craftsmen from the interiors of the state use iron to create inimitable forms of crafts. Bhatra, Dhruva, Gond and Muria tribes offer gifts like iron made horses, trishuls etc. to God post their wish fulfillment. A traditional custom even includes gifting carved "Deeyas" on the wedding of daughters. Besides tribal statues, they prepare iron goods like candle stands, furniture, lattice, lamps and several other kinds of decorative items.
Jute, the second cheapest textile fiber is widely used for packaging industrial and agricultural products. Apart from its coarse character and heavy texture, the natural color increases its unique charm. Jute items like baskets, hanging lamps, flower vases, hammocks, swings, purses, footwear, table mats etc. are some of the major jute works of Bhopal, Gwalior, Indore and Raipur.
Metal craft in Madhya Pradesh is a signature of the excellent and spontaneous creative skill of the tribal people. When you hold a piece in your hand you will feel the pulse with which these people make it. Go to the tribal villages of the state, you will be always hearing the iron smith's hammer going clang-clang in every little hut. The Gadhavs of Bastar, are far away from the world of modern civilization and are thereby blessed with simplicity and unique values of life. They create the marvelous metal craft which constitute a mark of their tradition.
There is another very interesting aspect of the metal craft of Madhya Pradesh. This particular craft is so popular amongst the tribal people that it has evolved a keen relationship with their faith and religion. It has become a tradition among the Gond, Muria, Bhatra and Dhruva tribals to offer iron horses, swings, trishuls (trident, the symbol of the Hindu god Shiva) to gods whenever their wishes are fulfilled. Metal crafts form a part of their social rituals also. Exquisitely carved diyas are taken by the bride along with her while going to the in laws house for the first time. They believe that doing so will bring prosperity to the husbands house and hence happiness to the newly married girl. These metal crafts known as dhokra work are mostly hollow-cast. They are made by the lost-wax process. The blacksmiths of the southern Madhya Pradesh make a range of oil lamps, tools and statues that depict animals, birds and men.
Have you ever seen a tribal girl adorned with ornaments in Madhya Pradesh. This is a really delightful sight. It seems as all of their joy and spirit are evoked through their jewelry. Her ornaments would include big ear and nose rings along with the heavy metallic bangles in arms as well as feet. They often wear waste bands. All sorts of ornaments are loving to the hearts of the tribals in the state of Madhya Pradesh. They intricately and artistically twist the thread to round or octahedronal metal beads and use them in making their ornaments. They sometimes weave cotton thread into a broad band to form a textured or designed base and usually then loop in buttons, beads or metallic droplets. The ornaments made of silver are a delight to the people living in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Whenever you visit a marriage ceremony you will find ladies wearing gorgeous silver ornaments which is often a mark of their respective prosperity and wealth. Silver adornments are also exhibited during the festivals.
Paper mache is a peculiar craft practiced in Madhya Pradesh since very ancient times. The craft has manifested itself in various different forms. The place called Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh is famous for the production of the unique art of paper mache. However it is also practiced in various other parts of the state which include Gwalior, Bhopal and Ratlam. The art of creating objects with paper mache is very simple yet wondrous. You can easily make a stunning piece of your own from the material available in your home. This is also true with the people of the Nagvanshi community in Madhya Pradesh. From times immemorial they are making small objects with paper mache. This gradually paved the path towards the evolution of one of the finest art of the region. The people here are also engaged in the art of making mud toys and dolls. The age long expression of this craft of paper mache was in the making of the ornate objects like vases, figurines and icons. As the days are passing by, craftspersons in Bhopal and Gwalior have started on their way to make statues, birds, animals and decorative panels.
Stone carving is one of the oldest form of art and crafts of Madhya Pradesh. Stone sculptures of Khajuraho, Vidisha's rock-cut temples and the monuments in Gwalior and Orchha prove the prevalence of stone carvings during the historical times. Every region of this state has got their unique and distinct style. Lattice (Jaal) work is the specialty of Gwalior whereas, Tikamgarh and Jabalpur specializes in decorative pieces of work like animals and human statues. The region of Bastar creates memorial stone pillars as well as statues of gods and goddesses of the tribal communities.
If you ever go to Madhya Pradesh in India you will find a spectacular art of making stuffed leather toys which is very popular. It is a typical form of handicraft in which the art objects are made according to the shapes of mostly the animals. You must be seeing the wild horses in the emporiums with hard structures and leather finish. These are the stuffed leather toys. As the name suggests, they are covered with leather and stuffed inside with different materials which often varies according to the choice of the craftsman as well as the purpose of the toy making. It all depends upon the stuff, whether a toy will be a soft, moderate or a hard one. The stuffed leather toys of Madhya Pradesh, looks so nice that the tourists are very much attracted and delighted, especially those who come here from the foreign countries. The expertize with which the craftsmen impart forms in these toys certainly deserves appreciation. The toys are skillfully crafted with much experienced hands and an eye for perfection. These arts are usually practiced in a hereditary way.
The terracotta pottery of Madhya Pradesh is marvelous in its style and representation. The potteries made by the tribal people of Bastar are really noteworthy. These people are far from the complications of the modern civilization. They are thereby blessed with simplicity and deep realization of the basic values of life system along with an enormous respect towards their deities and rituals. The art of terracotta marks the first human attempt of craftsmanship. This is why this art is so popular amongst the aboriginals of the country. Traditional statues of elephants, serpents, birds as well as horses from Bastar are unique in their style. There is an interesting practice among the tribes. They often offer the terracotta pieces depicting different animals to the local deity in lieu of sacrifice.
Madhya Pradesh, also known as the "heart of India", is famous for its extensive history of textiles. From seventh century BC to second century BC, old age scripts mention Madhya Pradesh as a prominent hub of textile weaving. The most famous textile products in Madhya Pradesh include the Chanderi and Maheshwari Sarees. The handicrafts of Madhya Pradesh are a reflection of the rich culture and tradition of this state. The type of raw materials that are implemented might have changed throughout the years and the usage of the products manufactured has also changed but an extensive history of textile industries in the state keeps on contributing to the extremely unique handicrafts industry of the state.
Woodcraft in Madhya Pradesh exhibits the traditional art of amazingly beautiful wooden handicrafts. These woodcrafts are employed both for utilitarian as well as architectural purposes.
The art of zari work is centered around Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh which is known for its rich heritage of art and craft. The art is predominant here for the last 300 years. Apart from Bhopal, it is practiced widely in Gwalior and Indore. The zari work in Madhya Pradesh has come from the western part of the country. This industry witnessed the glorious days of the great emperors. All the rulers were great patrons of art and architecture. They had an intense respect and passion for Indian traditional art especially those belonging to the central part of the peninsula.
The rulers of Madhya Pradesh had a passion for grandeur. This might be the reason why they got inclined towards the zari work. The members of the royal family were dressed with the priceless works of zari. You can witness the royal dresses if you go to the royal museums, especially to the museums at Bhopal, Gwalior and Indore.
Last Updated on : 15th March 2013