Rajasthani Art and Dance

Rajasthan Music And Dance are part of the state’s lifestyle. A highly cultured civilization that carries on a difficult life and braves the cruel weather gods, the Rajasthanis keep their spirits alive by singing lilting numbers and dancing highly spirited saltations.

The brilliant flash of colors and the vibrant performing arts of the state leave you spell bound.

The high pitched rustic melodies and pulsating music transports you to the golden sandy landscapes of the state.

Rajasthani Dance Forms


Rajasthani folk dances are graceful, colorful and lively saltations and reflect the vivid, rich culture of the state. The ubiquitous Ghoomar, a premier Rajasthani dance form, encapsulates the true spirit of the state’s vivacious culture.

Born among the Bhils and nurtured by the Rajput womenfolk, Ghoomar is a dance performed on ceremonious occasions and festive days such as like the Holi, Gangaur, Teej celebrations etc. As part of the nuptial festivities, the bride is asked to perform the Ghoomar in Rajput households. The newly wed is soon joined by the women of the household, both old and young alike and they dance into the wee hours of the night.

Bhavai Dance

Bhavai or Bhavai is the traditional folk dance of Rajasthan and is one of the nail biting, suspenseful dances of the state. Performed with great skill it is the art of dancing and gyrating even while maintaining a fine balancing act and poising many articles and items on one's head. Jats, Bhils, Raigars, Meenas, Charmars and Kumhars are the tribes and clans that promote the growth of this folk art.

The womenfolk of these tribes are used to such balancing precision due to their endeavor in the parched desert areas. A number of such urns and pots are easily carried across a distance in this fashion by the Rajasthani women who transport water from the wells/oases to their homes. Believed to have originated in the neighboring state of Gujarat, Bhavai was soon picked up and adapted by the local tribal men and women who imparted the dance a distinctive Rajasthani essence.

Terah Taal

The rich folk music of Rajasthan reflects the spectrum of cultural growth and the civilization’s highly honed art. A study of the folk art of this state is incomplete without the reverberating beats of Terah Taal or Tera Tali, a dance form. Manjeeras or Cymbals are commonly used as accompanying instruments in the Indian musical scenario especially in folk music recitals and devotional songs.

The Manjeera consists of a pair of metallic discs made usually of bronze, brass, copper or zinc. A copper wire or a thread is tied to these discs through a hole or an opening in the center of the discs. The sound produced by the Manjeeras is a distinct metallic clang that compliments the heavy percussions and vocals well. The quality of the clang or the timber can be varied by the person who plays the Manjeera. This is done by bringing the discs together at various points and at various angles.


Rajasthan resonates with the thumping beats of dandiya during the colorful celebrations of Navratri. An idolization of nari-shakti, the dandiya epitomizes the victory of good over evil. It reincarnates the slaying of Mahishasura by Devi Durga.

Varicolored sticks, beautiful traditional costumes comprising ballooning skirts and ornate blouses embellished with lovely embroidery and mirror craft, eye-catching accessories, foot tapping music, electrifying atmosphere- dandiya is marked by verve and celebration of life. The dhol, in accompaniment with several other musical instruments, jazzes up a dandiya ceremony.

Kachi Ghodi

Kachhi Ghodi is one of the most famous dance forms in Rajasthan and an exemplary folk art form. It brings out the vivid hues and the rustic charms of rural life in Rajasthan. Kachi Godi derives its name from the work Ghoodi meaning ‘mare’.

It is a sprightly dance where the men and women don costumes resembling horses and pretend to be cavalry soldiers or horsed bandits. The costume from hip down is a wooden horse and the footwork is coordinated with the beats of the drums and flutes to resemble the trotting movements of the horse rider.


The folk traditions of Rajasthan, namely the music and dance traditions revolve around the local and rural life of the state. Kurjan is a favorite aspect of the folk music and Kurjan songs are popular in social and family gatherings.

Kurjan is the local name for the Demoiselle Cranes, migratory birds from South Western Europe, Black sea, Poland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, North and South Africa and Mongolia that migrate to parts of Rajasthan and make the comfort of Northern Thar their home during the winter months. These cranes are beloved and welcome visitors to the state and generally settle near Khichan, north of the town of Jodhpur. The Kurjan or Kuraj as they are sometimes called, represent the far away lands of their origin for the native Rajasthanis.

Rajasthani Arts

Wall painting

Wall painting is an important aspect of Rajasthan’s life. Wall paintings form part of the religious rituals. On Holi and Diwali days etc. figures of goddesses are drawn on the walls of the households. Besides, the windows and doors are decorated beautifully with floral and traditional motifs in herbal dyes. The women of the household create these exquisite wall paintings. This tradition is accentuated on occasions such as weddings and childbirth festivities. These are known as Mandana. In fact the wall painting samples unearthed in Kalibangan and Peelibanga in Rajasthan date back to the prehistoric times of the Harappan Civilization.

Batik painting

Batik work is a tie and dye technique of textile painting. The craft has been cultivated in Rajasthan for almost 2000 years now. The word batik itself means 'wax composition'. To have a beautiful batik piece, the dyer needs to clearly visualize the end product. Only then can he/she proceed to actually create the design and dye the cloth providing the necessary shades and effects.


Rajasthan is a land rich in art and culture. The fine arts of the land have been fiercely developed by the inhabitants and seem to rebel against the drab terrain accorded to the region by Mother Nature. Natural resources of the region are used innovatively to bring to life vivid images and historic scenes.

Other favorite themes of the artisans of the region are Gods and Goddesses, religious motifs and natural phenomena such as sun, moon, stars, men and women and animals found in the region. The various forms of paintings in Rajasthan also make use of various bases starting from textiles as used in Phad and Batik to Glass, Acrylic Sheets, Marbles and even household walls. Herbal and natural dyes are the most commonly used but recent trends have made much space for innovations. The Phads depict the historic legends and battle scenes while powdered gemstones capture a royal scene for eternity; the wall paintings immortalize a domestic occasion while the miniatures are a collectors’ favorite.

Minatuer Painting

Miniature paintings are the highlights of Rajasthani fine arts. Developed under the patronage of the Rajput royalty and the Mughal emperors, miniature paintings have reached cosmic proportions in the eyes of art connoisseurs around the world due to its historic significance and ever-rising demand.

The dyes used for miniature paintings are natural minerals and pigments while the base is a fine quality hand made paper. Silk base was used in the Mughal School of miniature paintings while real gold and silver colors were promoted by the Kangra School. Brushes of squirrel hair were commonly used due to the fine mark made by them. Stone colors and herbal dyes are used extensively in this style of painting.

Stone Art

Marble is available in many shades and qualities in the state of Rajasthan. The stonemasons gave vent to their imagination and expressed their creative genius in creating exquisite interiors for the palaces and forts. The unique feature of the palaces particularly the women’s chambers was the jail (lattice) screens and panels and even doors. The women remained secluded in veils and purdahs to reserve their modesty and never entered the company of unknown men. These jail screens facilitated their inclusion in the going on without themselves being seen by others. Ajmer, Bikaner, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur represent the hub of marble work in the state. An assortment of other items such as marble mortars and pestles, birdbaths and decorative planters graced the regal households of the Rajputs.

Gemstone Art

Rajasthanis have formulated their unique styles of painting using the resources easily available in the state. Gemstone painting is a 200 year old art form developed in Rajasthan which emphasizes the usage of colors derived from natural gemstones to create vivid and colorful designs. This art form uses the precious stones and their blazing hues as a natural palette.

This style of painting is aided by the fact that the state of Rajasthan is a natural repository of precious and semiprecious stones. Jaipur is especially renowned for this form of art and painting. Beautiful Rajasthani women, deities and Mughal court scenes are the main themes of Rajasthani Gemstone Paintings.

Pichchavi Painting

The Rajasthanis take immense pride in their culture and grand history. The art and crafts of the region reflects this regard towards their heritage. The paintings are vivid impressions of the historic events the region has seen and the expression of the artisans' veneration of the religion, rituals and customs of the land.

The myths and legends taught to the children finds expression in the paintings and craft of these painters. Textile paintings of the state such as Phad, Pichwai and Batik paintings are the most sought after artifacts worldwide. Pichwais are a ritual art form, meaning that they are offerings to the deities, especially Hindu Gods and Goddesses. They are brilliant color paintings that adorn the walls of the temples of Rajasthan. The use of rich and vibrant colors provides the Pichwais a distinctive quality that sets it apart from other paintings of the state. These paintings enhance the aesthetic appeal of the temples they grace. The themes revolve around the Lord Sri Krishna in the form of Srinathji. Various episodes of Srinathji such as the raas-leela etc. and the Nathdwara temple festivities are portrayed in the Pichwais.

Metal work

A variety of metal items are crafted in the state of Rajasthan. Brass, bronze, silver and gold are used extensively in Rajasthan metal work. The silversmiths of the state have gained considerable renown both within India and internationally due to their superior skills. Beautifully patterned jewellery boxes and caskets, candle stands, incense stick stand (agarbatti dan), chunky jewellery, daggers, idols and figurines of deities, birds, animals etc are cast out of shiny silver. Traditionally the Rajput royals displayed their opulence by ornately crafted silver canopies, door and window panels and sword hilts.

Leather work

Leather ware industry in the state of Rajasthan employs both men and women. The shoes and sandals are cut and stitched by the men who also undertake tanning of the leather, while the women take on the embroidery and decoration aspect of these. The decoration of the footwear is done with sequin, beads, golden and colored thread. Tilonia village near Ajmer is known for the graphic patterns made on the indigenous leather products.

Beautiful and sturdy saddles for the camels and horses are produced in Bikaner and Jaisalmer while Jaipur, Jodhpur, Barmer and Jaisalmer are known to produce premium quality leather footwear known as Jootis and Mojdis.

Glass Work

Like the rest of the state's handicrafts, the glass works of Rajasthan are unique in both design and usage. Besides beautiful and traditional items such as handicraft items, glass photo frames, trays, glass art ware, glass jewelry boxes, lamp shades, flower vases, crystal wine glasses, flasks, glass pots, antique crystal chandeliers, glass coasters, glass lamp shades and glass paintings, Rajasthan is famed for its Thewa work.

Last Updated on : 3 February 2020