Gujarat Arts and Crafts

One of the oldest states in India Gujarat represents Indian culture at its best. Gujarat is blessed with a rich cultural and traditional past. The state boasts of an age old glorious cultural that has managed to survive till date. The art and crafts of Gujarat are unique to the state and are popular not only within the Indian subcontinent but all across the globe. Most of the artisans in the state are usually villagers who initially created these masterpieces of art and craft for their households which later on only turned out to become a major industry of the state. The art and crafts industry of Gujarat offers a number of jewelry, metalwork, embroidery, furniture, clay items, handmade durries (carpets), stone crafts and other materials. The brass industry of Jamnagar is one of the largest in India.

Below is a list of the important art and crafts of Gujarat

Brass and Iron Items
Gujarat is one of the major producers of Brass and Iron items in the country. Mostly produced in the princely state of Saurashtra and Kutch brass and iron the most common items available here are copper coated iron bells, beetle nut crackers and cutlery knives. These magnificent works of art are created by the descendents of the erstwhile court jewelers and sword smiths. The place is also popular for its range of Brass items which include brass and iron utensils, cutlery, knives and scissors.

Clay Items
The art of Pottery is among the oldest and most appreciated art and crafts of Gujarat. The artisans who are generally ordinary rural locals are masters of the art of molding clay into well proportioned utensils. After the creation of these utensils they are painted with vibrant colors that add to the beauty of the pot. The artisist of Kutch are renowned worldwide not only for their pottery but also for their variety of Terracotta toys.

Embroidery and textiles is one of the most booming industries of Gujarat. Embroidery in Gujarat in is mostly practiced by women who live in villages. There are a variety of embroidery to choose from, like Rabari embroidery, Bavalia embroidery and Banni embroidery. The state also takes pride in producing gold embroidery that is usually done to enhance the look of fabrics meant for weddings etc.

Most of the villages in Gujarat are famous for weaving some of the finest carpets, blankets and rugs. Woven on the primitive pit looms that is unique to the villages of Kutch these dhurries are in great demand all across the globe. These dhurries involve a lot of hard work as they are made by hand. The carpets and rugs are known for their beautiful designs, colors schemes and intricate weaving.

Gujarat jewelry has been a heritage of India for more than 5,000 years. In early Gujarat, people made jewelry out of natural materials such as seeds, feathers, leaves, berries, fruits, flowers, animal bones, claws and teeth. Even today such jeweleries are used by the tribal people.
Gujarat jewelry is made almost for each and every part of the body. The jewelry in Gujarat ranges from religious to purely aesthetic one. These are made not only for human beings but also for the deities, ceremonial elephants and horses.

Paintings in Gujarat are well-known and identified as styles of miniatures, mostly of religious themes. Long after the foundation of the gujarat Sultanate in the 15th century and the establishment of the Mughal rule at the end of the 16th century,paintings in gujarat maintained its angular features as well as its gorgeous and bold colors.

Tangalia is a handicraft which is made solely in Gujarat in the district of Surendranagar. The Dangasia community is the only maker of this peculiar craft.
Tangalia is a sarong like garment worn by the Bharvad women on special occasions such as weddings, or when they visit their relatives. The Ramraj Tangalia is a unique kind of motif worn by Motabhai Bharvad community

Printing and embroidery
Printing and embroidery in Gujarat reveals a cultural tradition that has evolved through centuries.Most of the best and earliest textiles were created in Gujarat. Printing and embroidery in Gujarat has a huge world market.

Varieties of embroidery in Gujarat include:
  • Toran, the embroidered doorway decoration with hanging flaps, which is said to ventilate good luck.
  • Pachhitpatis, hanged from the corners as a welcome symbol to the visitors.
  • Chaklas, used as furniture covers.
  • Bhitiya, a wall hanging.
  • Abhala, where small mirror discs are fixed with closely worked silken thread.

Woodcraft in Gujarat exhibits the traditional art of amazingly beautiful wooden handicrafts. These woodcrafts are employed both for utilitarian as well as architectural purposes.

Besides, Gujarat has unique wind instruments like Turi, Bungal, Pava, String type Ravan Hattho, Ektaro, Jantar and percussion instruments like Manjira, Zanz pot drum, etc.

Gujarat music and dance is distinguished by several folk dance forms like:
  • Garba-is a popular dance form of Gujarat. It is a circular form of dance performed by women on the Navaratri, Sharad Purnima, Vasant Panchami, Holi and similar other festivals. The word Garba is sourced from 'Garbha Deep', implying a lamp within a perforated earthen pot and indicating new life. In this dance form, ladies place the pot with the lamp on their heads and sway in circles, keeping time by clapping or snapping of fingers, accompanied by folk instruments.

    The actual performance starts at night after the women complete their domestic duties. They assemble at street corners. A photograph of the deity or a lamp is placed centrally and a circle formed about it. Dancing gradually paces up. The rhythm is maintained by a Dholi (drummer).

    During Garba, often, women bear on their heads a small canopy of bamboo chips shrouded with a red silk cloth known as 'Mandavali'. They dance with it and later put it in the center. Mandavali embodies the temple of the goddess.

    Women attire themselves in Gujarati style sarees. Each community wears various clothes. In Saurashtra, women wear embroidered petticoats (Ghaghara), a backless choli (Kapdu) and a head cover (odhani) accessorised by silver and head ornaments. Males wear Kediyum (shirt), Vajani (trouser) and Rumal, a printed head piece with silver ornaments adorning their waist, neck and hands. The instruments accompanying the Garba are the drum (dhol) and Nal.

  • Raas-Raas dance, probably originating in Kutch and Suarashtra is currently popular everywhere in Gujarat. The Raas form seems to hail right from the Puranic period. In different parts of India, Raas is danced in different ways. The principal feature of Raas is dancing in a circle by men and women, accompanied by musical instruments and keeping time either by clapping or striking two sticks together. The number of participants may go upto 8,16,32 or even 64 couples, who also sing in chorus. Three forms of Raas are there:

    Danda Rasaka- Raas dance accompanied by danda (sticks)

    Mandala or Tala Rasaka- Raas dance accompanied by clapping.

    Lata Rasaka- Raas dance where dancers hold onto each other and dance like a creeper to a tree.

    Most Gujarati art forms date back to the mythological era of Lord Krishna, supposedly the exponent of this dance form. Raas Nritya was believed to have been performed by lord Krishna with his Gopikas.

    The Dandia variety is usually performed by a group of young boys and girls, swaying in circles to measured steps, beating time with small sticks (called dandia) against a background of songs sung to the Dhol, Cymbals, Zanz, flute or Shehnai. When the beat is kept by clapping and performed only by men, it is called Garbi.

    The Gof variation is an intricate performance in which the performers holding colored strings attached to a top, dance in circles weaving various patterns.

    The Mers of Saurashtra are famous for their folk dance form known as Mer Raas and the shepherds or agriculturists of southern Gujarat dance the Gher or Gheria Raas.

    Raas is a very popular traditional dance form of Gujarat.

Last Updated on : 30 September 2011