Handicrafts in India

Handicrafts commonly refer to handmade crafts or artisanry. Skilled people create varied types of items starting from consumer goods to decorative pieces out of paper, wood, clay, shells, rock, stone, metal, etc. with the help of simple tools. These kinds of items are called handicrafts owing to the fact that these crafted items are solely handmade without the usage of any machine.

Are handicrafts popular in India?

India is known for its ethnicity. As far as art and culture is concerned, India features amongst the culturally rich countries in the world. The country is fortunate enough to possess some highly skilled artisans. They have increased the fame of Indian handicrafts around the globe. Many rural people still earn their livelihood from their creative pieces of art.

Different kinds of Handicrafts in India

India is a manufacturing hub of varied kinds of handicrafts, which are popular even in international markets. The most known form of handicrafts in India, are discussed below:
Bamboo Handicrafts: Being a producer of bamboo, handicrafts made from bamboo are one of the eco-friendly crafts in India. The varied items made from bamboo are baskets, dolls, toys, chalani, furniture, mats, wall-hangings, umbrella handles, crossbows, khorahi, kula, dukula, kathi, jewellery boxes and many more. Bamboo handicrafts are mostly made in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura.

Cane Handicrafts: Cane products, a famous form of Indian handicraft, include utilitarian objects like trays, baskets, stylish furniture, etc. Vellore district of Tamil Nadu is famous for cane handicrafts in India.

Bell Metal Handicrafts: The hard form of bronze, which is usually used to make bells, is referred as bell metal. This kind of hard alloy is used to make crafts like vermilion boxes, bowls, candle stands, donari (pendants) and many more. This bell metal crafts are mostly prevalent in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and Manipur. In Madhya Pradesh, this form of handicraft is even regarded as "tribal craft".

Bone and Horn Handicrafts: Originated in the state of Odisha, the bone and horn handicrafts are famous for creating birds and animal figures, which seem real and alive. Besides, goods like pen stands, ornaments, cigarette cases, table lamps, pepper and salt sets, chess sets, napkin rings, laughing Buddha etc. are prepared in Odisha, Karnataka, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh.

Brass Handicrafts: Durability of brass items adds to the fame of brassware. Items made of brass like crawling Krishna, Lord Ganesha's figure in different postures, vases, table tops, perforated lamps, ornament boxes, hukkas, toys, wine glasses, plates, fruit bowls and many more are extensively used in many Indian houses till now. These artisans are famously known as "Kansaris". The manufacturing of brassware is mainly done in Rajasthan.

Clay Handicrafts or Pottery: With its origination during the Indus Valley Civilization, clay craft or pottery is said to be one of the most primitive forms of handicrafts in India. People engaged in pottery are called "Kumhaars". Besides its world famous Terracotta form, pottery has got different forms like red ware, grey ware and black ware. Uttar Pradesh is known for its painted black wares. Besides, Krishnanagar in West Bengal, Bikaner, Lucknow, Pune and Himachal Pradesh even prepare clay ware. Items like clay pots, decorative items, jewellery, etc. are widely used all over the country.

Dhokra Handicrafts: Dhokra, the oldest form of handicraft is known for its traditional simplicity. This tribal handicraft originated in Madhya Pradesh. The other states involved in the making of such handicrafts are West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha. Dhokra is famous for its unique items portraying folk characters. Dhokra jewellery, candle stands, pen stands, ash trays and varied kinds of showpieces are available at every handicraft shop.

Jute Handicrafts: Jute craftsmen have created a worldwide niche in the field of jute handicrafts. The huge range of jute crafts includes bags, office stationeries, bangles and other jewellery, footwear, wall-hangings and many more. West Bengal, Assam and Bihar, being the leading jute producers, lead the jute handicrafts market in India.

Paper Handicrafts: Vibrant coloured papers are combined together to form varied crafts like kites, masks, decorative flowers, lamp shades, puppets, hand fans etc. Papier Mache, developed in the Mughal Era is even a famous form of paper handicraft in India. This craft industry is mainly located in Delhi, Rajgir, Patna, Gaya, Awadh, Ahmedabad, and Allahabad. Besides that, paper crafters are found on the outskirts of almost every major town.

Rock Handicrafts: Prevalence of rock carving, one of the primitive rock art can be seen in the states of Rajasthan, Jaipur, Odisha and Nagpur. Rajasthan, Jaipur and Madhya Pradesh are famous for marble stone carvings. Green coloured stone art is the specialty of Madhya Pradesh, whereas, Patharkatti is the unique rock craft of Gaya. Age old temples of Odisha are the world famous examples of rock craft in India. Numerous utensils, decorative pieces, stone jewellery and statues are made from rocks.

Shell Handicraft: From time immemorial, shell handicrafts are one of the demandable crafts in India. Shell handicraft can be made out of three types of shells like conch shell, tortoise shell and sea shell. Different kinds of goods like bangles, forks, decorative bowls, lockets, spoons, buttons, curtains, chandeliers, mirror frames, table mats, etc. are the products of shell crafting. Generally, the places located on the sea shore like Gulf of Mannar, Goa, Odisha, etc. are the places for shell handicraft. Silver Filigree or Meenakari or Tarakashi Handicrafts: Silver filigree or Tarakashi is a creative form of handicraft created from the twisted threads of silver or gold. Silver filigree can be of three distinctive types, Meenakari, Khulla Jaal and Flowers and Leaves. The most famous works of silver filigree includes paandans, tea trays, trinket boxes, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and other different jewellery. Besides, Cuttack in Odisha, Karimnagar in Telangana is known for its silver filigree work.

Weaving or Embroidery Handicrafts: Weaving mainly refers to the process of cloth production by two thread sets known as weft and warp crossed with each other. This traditional form of handicraft is mostly found in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Bandhanis, the famous form of weaving, are created in Jamnagar and Rajkot. Bihar and Karnataka are known for their embroidery work.

Wood Handicrafts: Wood craft is prevalent in India even before the time stone sculpture came into existence. Varied goods are created by the skilled craftsmen by shaping a piece of wood. Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh are known for their unique form of woodwork. Axes, toys, utensils, decorative pieces, jewellery and many more designer household goods like lamp shades, candle stands, vermillion boxes, jewellery boxes, bangle holders etc. are some of the common wood crafts used in almost every Indian house.

Other Kinds of Handicrafts in India

Apart from the ones discussed above, the other handicrafts prevalent in India are:
  • Enamel Handicrafts
  • Glass Handicrafts
  • Kiritams Handicrafts
  • Lac Handicrafts
  • Lace or Zari Handicrafts
  • Leather Handicrafts
  • Marble Handicrafts
  • Metal Handicrafts
  • Painting
  • Stone Handicrafts
  • Tilla Juttis

Government handicrafts shops

Handicrafts can be best bought from the state based government handicrafts shops. However, the type of handicrafts varies from one state to other. Besides, there are numerous handicrafts emporium in almost every big city and town. Some of the famous handicrafts shops all over India are:
  • Dilli Haat in Delhi
  • Kala Madhyam in Bangalore
  • MESH in Hyderabad and Delhi
  • Khazana in Taj Group of Hotels
  • Ekamra Haat in Bhubaneshwar
  • Rajasthali in Jaipur

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Last Updated on : January 5, 2015