Nine Small Scale Indian Handicraft Products that are Making a Global Impact
India is one of the most important players in the international market when we talk about the handicraft industry. Since the pre-independent era, foreigners have loved, adored, and admired the works of the artisans of India and continue to do so even today. The Indian handicraft industry is highly labour intensive and thus provides employment to more than six million artisans that including men and women from the weaker sections of the society. It is of great significance for the country since it provides employment to millions of people and helps in generating a substantial amount of foreign exchange for the country while preserving its rich culture and heritage.
In addition to having a high potential for employment, this sector is economically important for the country from the point of low capital investment, high ratio of value addition, and gigantic potential for export and for earning foreign exchange. Despite the Covid pandemic that hit the world recently, the export of handicrafts from India increased by almost 2 percent year-on-year to US $3.39 billion in FY20 according to the report of the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH). In this article, we will discuss in detail the nine small-scale Indian handicraft products that are making a mark on the global stage and contributing to the exports of India significantly.
Table of Contents
2) Embroidered and Crocheted Goods
3) Art Metal Wares
4) Hand Printed Textiles
5) Imitation Jewellery
6) Zari Works
8) Leather Works
9) Indian Home Decorative
From April 2020 to March 2021, woodwares were the product that contributed the most to the exports of India in the sector of handicrafts. Woodwares export from India during this period stood at the US $845.51 million which is close to 30% of the total exports in the handicraft sector. Woodwares that are worked upon with intricate details and precision are demanded by consumers all over the world. The task of creating detailed and exquisite designs by the artisans that too with hand requires creativity and an immense amount of hard work. This industry employs numerous artisans and is a source of living for the people in rural parts of India. The woodware markets in India are concentrated in Surat, Jamnagar, Bihar, Ghaziabad, Andhra Pradesh, and Delhi.
Embroidered and Crocheted Goods
Embroidered and crocheted goods have catered to a global audience. These goods have contributed to the handicraft exports of India to a large extent. There are various works of embroidery and crocheted goods that are famous worldwide. Let us discuss a few of them in detail.
1) Shisha Embroidered Goods
Shisha is the Indian word for mirror. The mirror glass is also known as shisha or abla is used in embroidery to decorate clothing, doorway hangings, household shrines, curtains, and cloth wrappings. The mirror glass is available in a variety of shapes including square, round, triangular, and so on.
2) Phulkari Embroidered Goods
This beautiful art form is believed to have originated in the 15th century AD and further developed during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Phulkari means an art of floral motifs in bright colours of fabric. The unique thing about this art is that the fabric itself is used as an inner decoration so that the pattern sewn becomes an integrated combination of colours.
3) Kantha Embroidery
Kantha embroidery is one of the oldest forms of handicraft practiced in India. This art became popular during the time of Gautam Buddha who used to cover himself with garments made from discarded rags that were gathered and sewn together. The Kantha is said to be an invocation to the gods and spirits for the prosperity and protection of the family. An authentic Kantha embroidery can narrate a story and is compact in design. The art is practiced by thousands of women in the districts of Hooghly, Murshidabad, Birbhum, and so on.
The other famous art forms from this segment include Kasuti embroidery products, Chikan embroidery items, applique or patchwork textile products, zardozi embroidered goods, and a lot more.
Art Metal Wares
Intricate workmanship is invested to bring out the fine work of metal wares. Metals like gold, iron, silver, brass, copper, and bronze are used to make idols, jewellery, utensils, and home décor that are demanded by consumers around the world. Art metalware is a very broad segment of handicraft that includes various categories of art like bidri work, copper bell metal, brassware, and a lot more. Art metal wares contributed to around 15% of the handicraft exports from April 2020 to March 2021 which shows its immense demand in the global market. Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, and Kolkata are some famous states of India that produce art metal wares.
Hand Printed Textiles
Hand Printed textiles of India are adored and loved by people worldwide. The fact that Indian designers are now making their mark on the global scene and winning recognition for their fashion endeavours is enough testimony that not just the Indians but people across the globe love the hand-printed textiles of India. This segment of handicraft contributed around US $340 million from April 2020 to March 2021. Kalamkari is one of the prettiest textiles on cotton and is demanded globally in large numbers. Bandhani art from the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan is an enriched style that is dyed in tie and dye. In Bandhani, different shades of colours are believed to convey different meanings. Patola from Patan is the pride of the state of Gujarat. They are double ikkat sarees, which means they feature dyed designs on both sides of the sari. Other famous hand-printed textiles that are demanded in huge numbers include Ikat, Plaid, Ajrak, Chikankari, and so on.
One segment of the handicraft industry of India that attracts heavy exports is imitation jewellery. It contributed to around the US $187 million of the total exports during 2020-2021. Imitation jewelleries are made using simple raw materials like metal, glass, lac, textiles, woods, and stones. Different imitation jewelleries include necklaces, pendant sets, bangles, earrings, bracelets, belts, and the list goes on and on. Delhi, Moradabad, Sambhal, Kohima, and Jaipur are some of the most popular places that make imitation pieces of jewellery.
Zari or jari is an even thread made of fine gold or silver used in garments, especially as brocade in saris. It is the main decorative material in most silk saris and gharanas. Intricate patterns are embroidered with high workmanship. Home decoration items and garments use Zari worked materials. 55% of the production needs of Zari in clothing is maintained by Surat. Apart from Surat, other places that cater to the production of Zari work in large numbers are Vadodara, Bareilly, Agra, Hyderabad, Varanasi, and Lucknow.
Shawls are one of the earliest crafts of Kashmir. A shawl is a loosely worn cloth over the shoulders, upper body, and sometimes over the head also. Kashmiri shawl was one of the pivotal crafts which passed the legacy of Kashmir furthermore. The most known woven textiles are the famed Kashmiri shawls. Shawl weaving is one of the most flourishing industries in Himachal Pradesh too. It has provided bread to around 35000 weavers in the state. There are various types of shawls, but one of the widely recognized shawls is the Kullu shawl. These kinds of shawls are created by using different kinds of wool that include local wool, pashmina wool, merino wool, etc. Pashmina shawl also referred to as the Kashmiri shawl is famous for its quality, as it is prepared from the changthangi or pashmina goat- a special breed of goats that is only present in the high-altitude areas of the Himalayas.
The craft of embossing and hand painting leather was first introduced in the 1940s in the Shanti Niketan (Kolkata). Thousands of mochis (cobblers) were trained in their trade between 1924 and 1930. From then the leatherwork was carried on by various companies and individual cobblers. Vellore district is the top exporter of finished leather goods in India. As mentioned above, leather tanning came to India in the late 19th century and was widely used for making shoes. Close to 70 percent of the leather produced in India comes from Tamil Nadu. The exports from Tamil Nadu account for 42 percent of India’s leather exports. Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), the world’s largest research Institute in terms of research papers and parents is situated in Tamil Nadu carries out research and development in areas of leather preservation which helps artisans produce premium quality leather and export it worldwide.
Indian Home Decor
This segment of the handicraft exports includes idols, home accents, wall clocks, wall décor, desk accessories, lamps, lighting, and a lot more. All these items with an Indian touch attract consumers across the world and are demanded in large numbers. Home decorative comes under the miscellaneous handicrafts and has contributed to around the US $827 million from April 2020 to March 2021.
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