The crafts of India are diverse, rich in history and religion. The craft of each state in India reflect the influence of different empires. Throughout centuries, crafts have been embedded as a culture and tradition within rural communities
Crafts of Bihar
Madhubani is practiced in the Mithila state of Nepalland in the Bihar state of India. Painting is done with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks, using natural dyes and pigments, and is characterized by eye-catching geometrical patterns.
The exact time when Mithila art originated is not known. Origin can be traced to the time of the Ramayana, when King Janaka of Nepal ordered his kingdom to decorate the town for the wedding of his daughter, Sita, to Lord Rama. The original inspiration for Madhubani art emerged from women’s craving for religiousness and an intense desire to be one with God.
Crafts of Rajasthan
Decorative paintings & Puppetry
These include fabric colouration and embellishment, decorative painting and puppetry. Craft workers see this not as an occupation, but rather a mark of respect to their heritage. In the process of fabric colouration, woven fabrics are treated by methods such as tie-dyeing, resist dyeing and direct application. The dupatta worn by women show the popularity of dyeing.
Rajasthan, recognized by its Royal heritage is a prominent and well-established craft industry. Craft remains a tradition in Rajasthan, preserved over centuries by the stronghold of the Royal Rajput family. Within the craft industry are smaller occupations.
Crafts of Gujarat
Gujarat is renowned for its textile production methods. Bordering Rajasthan, the two states share similarities in culture and identity. They embarked on this textile industry in Gujarat. Within textile production, each caste is assigned to an occupation of its own. These are, weaving, dyeing and printing. For example, the Salvi caste is assigned to weaving. Garment producers bring these elements together to form the identity of Gujarati textiles.
This foundation of forming patterns through dyeing has emerged from the rural communities of this state. Along with the complete image of a Gujarati woman are large bangles made of ivory and plastic, these are symbols of a married woman. Conch shell and shellac bangles are the most common.
Crafts of Assam
Silk, Cane & Bamboo Crafts
To the far eastern region of India is Assam. A state recognized for its creative use of raw materials in textiles and crafts. Silk is the most valued raw material of Assam, with the Antheraea assama worm producing the unique muga silk. It is mostly the duty of women to construct silk fabrics, using a domestic back strap loom. Mahatma Gandhi had noted ‘Assamese women are born weavers; they weave fairy-tales in their cloth. Cane and bamboo crafts are also unique to Assam, the result of heavy physical work.
The crafts of Assam are reliant upon the raw materials of the state also making them unique.
Crafts of South India
Dravidian style, stone carved temples reflect the influence of Hinduism. Temple carvings are symbolic of the craft skills in the Tamil Nadu region. The Meenakshi temple of Madurai typifies the skills and devotion put into this craftwork. North of Tamil Nadu is Karnataka, a region renowned for its wood and stone craftwork.
The diversity of religious beliefs has had a great impact on the crafts of Southern India. The region has seen the rule of various empires such as the Mughal, Portuguese, Dutch, French and British. Each has left their mark of style on traditional crafts. The craft industry of South India has established itself commercially in the nation, whilst reflecting a long history of foreign rule.