15 Indian Villages and Their Hidden Handicraft Trades
Since the pre-independent era, Indian handicrafts have created a legacy that is everlasting. Being one of the richest and diverse cultures, Indian handicrafts have a variety that no other country can provide. The varieties of Indian handicrafts that have won accolades at an international level come from the remote and rural areas of the country. These handicrafts display the simplicity, authenticity, and the love of the artisans and the workmen who have devoted their lives to the production of these exquisite handicrafts. The craft they create is simply impeccable masterpieces that remain underappreciated. Let us go through fifteen such villages of India and learn about their hidden handicrafts that display the sheer brilliance and the workmanship of the artisans.
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Set amidst the beautiful hills of Nilgiri in the state of Tamil Nadu, Thiruchigadi is a small village and home to a tribe known as Kota. This tribe has a long-lasting legacy of creating traditional clay pottery which is generally black in color. The art of clay pottery can be seen across the different states of the country. What makes Thiruchigadi special is that the women of the Kota tribe are engaged in the production of this beautiful pottery which they have learned from their mother and grandmothers.
A small village in the Dhubri district of Assam called Asharikandi is the home to terracotta artisans. The ancient art of terracotta pottery which was once practised by the people of the great Harappan Civilisation is being carried on by these artisans and workmen. There are about 300 trained artisans residing in this tiny village who are keeping this art alive by making terracotta toys and pottery. One of the most notable works of the artisans of the village of Asharikandi is the Hatima Putul. It is a terracotta toy that depicts a mother that has elephant-like ears and carries a baby on her lap. Their dedication to the art of terracotta and ability to adapt to the dynamic demand of the global market has helped them make a mark on the international market.
Ajrakh is a small village near Kutch in Gujarat. It is the home to the block printers who have been able to lure fabric lovers across the various countries of the world. This art developed in the region of Sindh around 4500 years ago. This art is also popularly known as the Ajrakh block printing. The word Ajrakh comes from Arabia and literally means ‘universe’. It is a very intriguing art and attracts people also because of its use of natural resources to dye and paint. During the devastating earthquakes that took place in 2001, many block printers were either killed or their workshops were destroyed. All the artisans collectively came together and built a small village to keep this age-old legacy alive, thus forming the tiny village of Ajrakhpur.
The village of Aranmula in the district of Pathanamthitta, Kerala is famous across the globe for the centuries-old Shree Krishna Temple and the annual snake boat race. However, it is also the home to the beautiful and exotic craft of Aranmula Kannadi. Aranmula Kannadi, also known as the metal-alloy mirror, has attracted customers globally. One interesting fact to know about these metal-alloy mirrors is that the composition of metals that are alloyed with copper, bronze, silver, and tin to make these metal-alloy mirrors remains a secret and has been guarded by the artisans through generations.
Most of us have used multi-hued mats in our homes. However, very few know the source of its origin. These beautifully woven multi-hued hats come from the Western Ghats of the state of Tamil Nadu where the Muslim communities of the region have been engaged in its production for generations.
The hand-woven Muga silk of the region of Sualkuchi, Assam is highly acclaimed all over the world. A class of people called the Katonis was famous for spinning and weaving during the Ahom Dynasty. Muslim weavers known as Jholas had also started weaving silk fabrics. After the arrival of the British government in India, this craft came to a decline. However, with the efforts of the Indian government, the hand-woven Muga silk of Sualkuchi has started to gain the attention of customers worldwide.
Raghurajpur is a small village in the state of Odisha, located around 14 kilometers away from the famous city of Puri. It is truly the village of the artists. Each and every individual of the village of Raghurajpur is engaged in some kind of art. Artworks like mask making, wood carving, Tussar painting, and palm-leaf engraving are practised by the artisans that are famous and in demand.
The artisans of the village of Sarthebari, Assam are known for their bell metals. This age-old craft is carried on by the artisans who are known as the Orja or the Kahar. They make use of the ancient techniques and tools that have been used by their forefathers in the production of bell metals. You cannot miss the constant sound of the hammering of the bell metals if you visit the village of Sarthebari. You can find many bell metal artefacts starting from plates and glasses to spoons and bowls.
The village of Longpi from the state of Manipur is known for its beautiful and eco-friendly black stone pottery. This style of pottery earlier could be afforded only by the royal community. Thus, it is sometimes also known as the ‘royal pottery’. It is produced by the Tangkhul Naga tribe of Longpi. The black pot that is produced by the artisans of this tribe is ideal to cook meat and lentils slowly. It is also used to store food. In recent years, this form of art has gained popularity in countries like Sweden, Germany, Australia, and the US.
The village of Ektaal which is located in the state of Chhattisgarh is famous for its Bastar art. It is the art of lost metal casting and is practised by the Gond tribe of that region. This tribe worships Lord Buddha and believes that he resides in the iron metal. Thus, the artisans of the village of Ektaal keep on experimenting with iron metal and produce items like door handles, lampshades, hangers, boxes, and caskets of various sizes and shapes. In recent years, Baster artefacts have gained immense popularity in France, Italy, Britain, and other European countries.
Cheriyal is a small village in the district of Siddipet, Telangana. This village is famous for its scroll painting known as the Cheriyal scroll painting. These pieces of art are made only in this small village of Telangana at present. It is one of the styled versions of the famous Nakashi art and is painted in a way that it is able to depict mythological stories from Indian mythology. The use of red colour is prevalent in their paintings. At present, three families continue to produce and carry the legacy of this beautiful and intricate art.
Bhadohi is also known as the ‘carpet city’. It is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh and is renowned across the globe for its carpets. This art is known to flourish and develop during the reign of Akbar in the sixteenth century. Chhapra Mir carpets, Loribaft and Indo Gabbeh are some of the well-known and noted carpet specimens from Bhadohi.
Pembarthi is a small village in the state of Telangana and the home to the Pembarthi metal craft. The history of these metal crafts can be traced back to around 800 years i.e. during the Kakatiya Empire when metal crafts were used to adorn the temples and the chariots of kings and queens.
Bidri artwork is practised in the village of Bidar in Karnataka. It is a 500-year-old metal craft that has its origin from the Bidar Fort in West Karnataka. It was originally practised in Damascus in Syria and came to India through Persian craftsmen, who were brought to work on the forts a000nd palaces of the Bahmani Sultans. Bidri work was originally used to decorate steel objects like swords and shibboleths. Slowly spittoons, hookahs, paandaans, trays, etc began to feature beautiful engravings of silver on black metal.
Etikoppaka is a small village near the city of Visakhapatnam that is famous for its Etikoppaka toys. These toys are made with leftover pieces of wood. It is an eco-friendly craft that is demanded by the toy-lovers globally. These pieces of woodcraft are painted with the help of vegetable dyes and then it is coated with lacquer.
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