India is a country with diverse cultures, religions and traditions. Each state has its own culture and traditions, which are most often a result of the empire that ruled over them. Most states have their own special type of handiwork for which they are famous. Beautiful works hand crafted by people of a particular region marks the heritage of that soil, and gives India its diversity.
Perhaps it began by making items of utility for their daily use. As the demand increased, these ancient handicrafts for better with creativity of the craftsmen. In order to please kings and queens, people used to gift them their carefully crafted works of art. The king, on being impressed would reward them suitably. The artisans made beautiful creations and took them to other places for trade and this was how they gradually became famous for their type of craft.
India is a vast country and almost all its cities have some or the other special art and craft which makes the place famous and gives people a competitive edge in trading.
The handicraft of ancient India dates back to the Indus valley civilization when the craftsmen were skilled in pottery making and sculpture making. This included sculptures made out of metals, stones, wood etc. Weaving and jewelry making were also practiced.
In the Mauryan age, numerous stupas were built, which indicates that stone carved sculptures were the most prominent handicraft of that period.
The forts and palaces of various places depict the type of art and craft practiced by their people.
In the North of India, i.e. in Kashmir, beautiful handicrafts called Papier Mache art are extremely popular. Kashmir is also famous for its walnut wood crafts and the furniture made out of it. The people of Kashmir also make handicraft items carved out of copper which has an antique finish that lends the items a unique attractiveness.
The handicrafts of Rajasthan include decorative paintings, puppet making, mirror embroidery etc. Fabrics are dyed in multi colored combinations by tie and dye method, resist dyeing method and by direct application method to create unique Jaipuri prints and paintings which are used for adorning wall hangings, bed sheets clothes etc.
Maharashtra is famous for its Kolhapuri chappals made out of leather and the textile industry.
Uttar Pradesh has various types of handicrafts in its various cities. Agra is famous for TajMahal, which has made the city home to countless number of artisans who make beautiful decorative items out of marbles. It is also known for leather shoes. Firozabad city is famous for its handicrafts items made out of glass such as chandeliers, bangles vases etc. Bareili is famous for its wooden furniture and other wooden handicrafts. Kanpur; which is an industrial city, is famous for its leather handicrafts. Lucknow is famous for its chikankaari and zardozi handicrafts, which are essentially different kinds of embroidery. Banaras is famous for its Banarasisarees and fabrics with Banarsi work on them.
People from eastern states such as Assam, West Bengal, Orissa and Manipur use Bamboo creatively to make handicraft items. The people there also make crafts out of straw,wood, metals and stones.Straw hats, straw boxes and straw bags and baskets are a few items made out of straw by the craftsmen.
Applique work and Madhubani paintings of Orissa and Bihar are famous. Their paintings and manuscripts on palm leaves are quite unique.
South India on the other hand is also extremely rich in the differentkind of handicrafts which are made by skilled craftsmen. Leather lamp shades, Tanjore paintings, beautiful jewelry and decorative items made out of shells are made in Andhra Pradesh. Statues made of brass and handicrafts made out of coconut are also part of Andhra crafts. Beautifully carved wooden doors and interiors are used to decorate temples and homes. Brass and silverstatues of gods and goddesses in antique and polish finish are greatly admiredby worshippers. Madurai is famous for rosewood handicrafts. Kanchipuramsarees of South India need no introduction. Pearl jewelry and lakh jewelry which are made in Hyderabad – a city in Karnataka, are world famous.
India with all its diversity has a lot of variety of handicrafts to offer to the world. The ancient handicrafts with a mix of modern ideas create a wonderful combination, which is worth appreciation. The Govt. of India helps its artisans in preserving the tradition and capability of its craftsmen by organizing trade fairs and exhibitions to promote the traditional Indian art and crafts.