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Popular Handicrafts of North India

Popular Handicrafts of North India

Jammu & Kashmir

This region is composed of three regions Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, It is cold and mountainous area with heavy snowfall in the winter.

Kashmir is artistic and the traditions reflect the legacy of rulers of the region throughout the history. Popular Handicrafts of north India from this region are knotted carpets called Kaleen, Papier Mache, Kashmiri Embroidery, felted rugs Namada, walnut wood carvings, Pinjrakari and Kathmuband wood work and copper ware.

Jammu renowned of its shrines and courtly miniature paintings. Handicraft originating from this region are Items such as Basohli paintings, metal castings, Sheet metal artwork, Chikri wood work, Zari embroidery, block printing, leather craft, chain stitch embroidery, bamboo work and Gabba making

Ladakh is largely influenced by eastern nations such as China and Tibetan cultures. Ladakh being mostly Buddhist populations, is home ancient monasteries. Thus the art here is mostly spatial and related ritualistic religious requirements. This region produces handicraft such as Thangka paintings, ritual cloth installations, Khabdan – pile carpets, woolen carpets called Tsug-dul, Challi (handwoven textiles), hand spinnings, Thigma (tie resist dye), metal work, wood carvings, painted wood, Paabu (Stitched boots) and Chipkiang baskets.

Himachal Pradesh

Boundaries of Himachal Pradesh extends from foothill of Shivalik mountain range and border Punjab to the south. This is the mountainous region with beautiful valleys like Chamba, Kullu and Kangra Economy of this region is mostly centered around sheep, being a cold region, the need for woolen garments is ever present. This in turn provided the region with flourishing handloom industry. Unique painting styles of the region is due to the fact that historically region has also received valuable patronage and encouragement in art.

Chamba enjoyed continuous stability for a longer period while being ruled by single dynasty. This facilitated growth of art in the region also provided refuge to artists from other parts of the country. Artists found active patronage under Raja Umed Singh of Chamba. Handmade items produced and exported by this region are silver jewellery, Chamba Rumal, Chamba paintings, lost wax casting and leather embroidery.

Kangra once known as Nagarkot was the capital of the region, later on, the region was captured by emperor Jahangir. In 18th century region of Kangra received patronage from Raja Sansar Chand Katoch which led to booming miniature painting tradition. These paintings are characterized by romantic themes and depict Radha and Krishna. This region produces similar items to Chamba region however with the Tibetan influence. Special items are Dharamshala wood works and Tibetan carpets. Other than that the region also produces Thangka paintings and applique, sheet metal work and brass metal castings.

Kullu is the central region of Himachal Pradesh and is referred to as “Kulanthapith” (End of the habitable world) in Sanskrit in ancient text of India. One can see looms in Kullu houses as weaving is a flourishing industry in this region. Native handicraft items to this region are brass and silver metal works, various type of wool such as Pashmina, Byangi, Imboo, Desi and Merino wool, Pulla grass Chappal. Other finished products are baskets, dolls, and shawls.

Punjab

Also known as bread basked of the nation state of Punjab is a land of five rivers. Plains ones covered in thorny trees and wild grass has been transformed into rich agricultural hub, thanks to british era canals and Green Revolution of 1960. Hot winds blows through the region in summers and in winters frost dominates the ground. Craft of Punjab region are generally utilitarian than ornamental. Women have been at the forefront of handicrafts scene traditionally. Women have been known to knit, embroid and spin together while sharing news and singing. Phulkari is a popular Punjabi embroidery of the region.

Amritsar is subregion of Manjh region. Manjha region consist of cities of Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Ferozepur and Faridkot lying between river Beas and Satluj. Located on silk road in the bygone era, Amritsar have had the opportunity to trade goods with Afghanistan and central Asia. Wealth generated through international trade reflects in elaborate Havelis, delicately embroidered shawls and ivory carvings to name a few. Further below Amritsar, is Batala region famous for it cast swords. Major handicraft of north India produced in this region are Galeecha (Knotted carpets) and Khunda (Bamboo staves).

Haryana

History of Haryana dates back to Indus civilisation, Economy of the region is largely based on agriculture, cattle rearing, dairy, and wool industries thanks to green revolutions of 1960. Panipat region has a bustling handloom and fabric industry, central market area for yarn trade or Mandi is said to be the largest in the world. Palm leaf work is another Haryanvi handcraft activity, introduced by migrating Pakistani community during partition. Sarkanda plant leaves are coiled into baskets for domestic use. Other products wide range of round bottomed, cylindrical and shallows baskets. Items furniture and home decor are also crafted.

Brass ware craftsmanship is native to the region, as the shortage of water in past encouraged usage of brass pots and utensils. Local craftsmen make wide range of utensils with beautiful patterns in varing sizes. Leather Jutti also native to Punjab is quite popular footwear from Haryana, Two major hubs for leather Jutti are Hissar and Rewari. Juttis are embroidered with gold thread on black leather. Historically worn by the wealthy people of the region. Made for special occasions only but local have also developed Juttis for daily usage known as Desi Jutti . Surahi Pottery, of Jhajjar made by Kumbhars community are slim necked pitchers made with from combination of thrown and moulded parts. Its is believed water stored in these surahis acquire a unique taste.

Rajasthan

The Name Rajasthan “The land of Kings” is indicative of its twenty princely states that ruled the region post independence. The region is one with tradition and therefore abundance of traditional items available. Jaipur the capital of the state produces handicrafts like blue pottery, which is essentially low temperature glazed pottery with blue patterns drawn on the smooth surface. Kundan Jadai , hostile desert environment and continuous warfare created a strong incentive to invest in gold and jewels. Kundan is a mughal technique of using hyper purified gold leaves with embedded gems to create ornaments. These are extremely shiny and singies wealth appropriately. 

Ajmer region is quite popular for its leather works, historically popular with making Juttis, however mass productions of footwear has forced the region to diversify its leather products into bags and decor items. Most of the items here are made using cow and buffalo hide, these items are highly textured with straight patterns. Bikaner region of Rajasthan produces Usta Kaam-Gesso paintings, this art style require a very smooth surface to be effective as it uses glue like gesso paint. This technique was used in decorating wall, pillar and ceilings of Bikaner’s Junagadh Fort. These days this technique is used of utensils and home decor items. 

Please feel free to check out our collection of Popular Handicrafts of North India here.

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