The Lesser-Known Handicrafts of India and Where to Buy Them
India is a land of a variety of handicrafts. Handicrafts that are beautiful, mesmerizing, and will blow your mind leaving you aww-struck. But it is even remorseful to know that many Indian Handicraft items and designs are on the verge of depletion or are lesser-known.
Prof. C. K. Prahalad, Paul & Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, states:
“India needs to focus on the flowering of arts, science, and literature!
However, some of the problems which Indian artisans are facing for a long time are:
- Poor availability of finance
- Less access to modern manufacturing techniques
- Fewer funds to promote and market products
- Less knowledge about export and import procedures
And from 1947, nothing has changed dominantly. To change this, Craftezy steps ahead and brings you a list of some lesser-known handicraft items because we firmly believe Indian Handicrafts are in urgent need of recognition and support.
10 Lesser-Known Handicrafts of India
This blog will give you an insight into some of the lesser-known handicrafts on the verge of extinction.
Channapatna toys from Karnataka
The origin of Channapatna toys can be traced back to the reign of the Tipu sultan in Karnataka. He invited Persian artisans to teach the art of making wooden toys to local artisans in Channapatna village. Gradually the local artisans became professional at toy making and started using the latest technology for the same.
They used ivory wood mainly and rosewood, sandalwood for occasional purposes. As the art of Channapatna toys improved, the use of rubber, cedar, pine, and teak became popular.
The art created well-designed toys, dolls, and lacquer finish products. The best thing about Channapatna toys is the use of environmentally friendly colors on them. The colors are made of vegetable dyes.
It is sad to know that the Channapatna toys industry faced a financial crunch for more than two decades.
But soon, the government recognized the importance, and then the Karnataka Government took command in their hands. The Channapatna toys industry is working hard to match the modern taste but still has not received the deserved recognition.
Brass utensils from Rajasthan
Making brass and copper utensils was a traditional occupation of a Hindu artisan’s caste known as Thathera. Thathera traces their origin from Maharaja Sahasrarjun from the medieval dynasty.
Jaipur is a hometown for Indian brass Handicraft and copper utensils makers. It is interesting to know that the street where brass and copper utensils are made is known as ‘Thatero Ki Gali.’ The name is given due to the constant sound of metal beating coming from this particular area.
But this art form needs attention as it faces extinction.
Thathera is known for designing valuable and purposeful utensils. Soon these utensils gained popularity and became part and parcel of every household in Jaipur. Utensils made of brass and copper were used to store water and other edible fluids.
It is believed that food stored in brass and copper is preserved for a long time and carries health benefits for its consumers. Parat, Pani ka Gada, and Mandir ka Kalash were the most used brass and copper products.
It’s good that someone is stepping forward to do something for these craftsmen and is planning to save the handicraft.
Dhana murti (Chota Nagpur plateau region)
Dhana Murti making is an unrevealed, untapped artform of the Munda (Adivasi) group of Chota Nagpur plateau region people. Mundas belong to some parts of Jharkhand state and region across Odisha, Assam. West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Bihar.
Mundas are genuinely incredible for nature lovers. They value and worship everything given by nature and turn them into artwork. Adivasi uses unhusked rice grain to make idols, and this gorgeous art is known as Dhana Murti.
The three major elements are used to complete the gorgeous Dhana murti- Rice grain, Bamboo silvers, and colorful threads.
Dhana murti makers strongly believe that:
Patience is a virtue, and rice is a prominent example.
Rani Dongri From Madhya Pradesh
Rani Dongri is a small village in MP, the heart of India, that makes admirable artistic Baskets, also known as ‘tokiris.’ Mainly women are involved in the creation of the tokiris. They weave distinctively to create a beautiful design on baskets.
Dog rose, honeysuckle, blueberry briars are major plants used for basket making. These baskets are designed in different shapes and colors. Some heavy quality Tokris also have a lid, handle, and embellishments that make it exquisite.
The baskets are not only meant for decorative purposes but also helpful in storing things beautifully and safely. They are made according to a variety of needs of people. Rani Dongri people sell the baskets in Haats in nearby villages and cities.
In Rani Dogri, wives are known to weave, and men are involved in singing, dancing, and acting to pull more audiences.
Kathputli from Rajasthan
Kathputli is an ancient and one of the most famous handicrafts in Indian. Kathaputli derives from the word Kath which means wood, and putli means a toy. Basically, a toy made of wood.
Kings and well-families of Rajasthan supported Kathputli. It was a piece of entertainment for them. Every age group of people used to enjoy and relish this artform.
Initially, the puppets of kathputli were made 2-feet long with a colossal head and protruding eyes. The rest of the body was stuffed with bright-colored clothes to allow flexible movement. Puppets were then attached to a string and were controlled by the manipulator.
The art is known to narrate stories using these puppets. The famous tale performed through kathputli was of King Amar Singh Rathode of Rajasthan. There was a mesmerizing interaction between puppeteers and the audience. One could not get distracted even for a while.
The puppet (kathputli) show carries a strong association with Rajasthan, and still, Kathapulti is a vibrant entertainment source. For many ages, there is no match for this sort of entertainment.
Patola Sarees From Gujarat
Patola sarees are the ultimate example of weaving perfection. These sarees are made with silk in Patan, Gujarat. Patola sarees are royal, elegant because of design and fabric but due to their time-consuming nature. These sarees take around 4-6months and 4-5 weavers to complete.
The exciting thing about these sarees is that they are double Ikat. After the saree is ready, one cannot differentiate between the two sides as it is the same in texture, color, and intensity.
Patola sarees were considered a social status among Gujarati women. These sarees are costly, and not everyone could afford them.
In today’s Patola saree, the single ikat technique makes them affordable, and innovative patterns are created using a traditional color palette.
Thangka painting (Sikkim)
Thangka Paintings from Nepal are unframed and scroll paintings. The art of Thangka paintings came through Tibet in India. These paintings usually depict Buddhist deities, scenes, or mandalas.
The paintings are kept with a silk cover in front. The thangka paintings are delicate thus need a clean, dry place to store and protect them. It takes enormous time to complete such a masterpiece.
The process starts with preparing a canvas, and then a foundation is a line drawn. And the final painting of canvas gets started. It takes around 4-5 months to prepare thangka paintings, depending on their size and complexities.
One would be surprised to know that these paintings are used as a teaching tool. Common lessons given were regarding the birth of Lord Budhha or for describing historical events related to Llamas. These antique Paintings are also used for devotional and decorative purposes.
And, today, Tibetan Thangka Academy is trying hard to save the art form.
Horn art From Odisha
Greg Horn Art is a unique and distinctive handicraft that stands out from all the artforms mentioned above. It originated in the Paralakhemundi village of the Gajapati district of Odisha- a place of magnificent art and culture.
Essential combs were the first items produced using hornwork. With constant practice and observation, it was regarded that horns can easily be molded in desired shapes. And thus, the array of making different valuable items using funnels started. Horns of Cow, buffalo, and stag antlers are most commonly used in this artwork.
Men are involved in creating the shapes while women polish them with sandpaper for a sheer finish. The art was used to make spectacle frames, pen stands, combs, lampshades, jewelry, and many more.
It is unpleasant to know that the innovative horn art is struggling for recognition. And artisans are on the verge of extinction due to a lack of support.
Lacquer From Odisha
Among the uncountable handicraft work from Odisha, Lacquer work is one of them. It is a unique yet popular art form. Lacquer is an insect’s secretion called Laciffer Laca. This Laciffer is mixed with colors and then applied to terracotta figures.
The beauty of these products lies in color embellishments with beautiful motifs, geometrical designs, and religious symbols on them. Lacquer finish products have aesthetic value of their own. Lacquer is famous for its toys, boxes, jewelry, and bangles.
Odisha people always love to experiment with form, material, and techniques, and one such example is lacquerware. And, even the government is taking actions to preserve the art form.
Parsi Embroidery is a multicultural art borrowed from Iran, India, China, and Europe. It is an antique and gorgeous textile heritage.
Parsi embroidery on Sarees is known as Gara embroidery sarees. These sarees are made with delicate Parsi embroidery with adorned colors. They are a valid symbol of pure, elegant handloom sarees.
Parsi embroiderers are known as superior craftsmen. It is outstanding, and the delicate embroidery pattern work takes around six months to complete. This work is an actual test of patience and hard work.
It is shocking to know that women working with needlework on these sarees lost their eyesight. Hence this art is also known as a forbidden stitch.
“Incredible India, So Incredible is Its Handicraft.”
It is high time that we think and work upon saving the art treasures of Indian handicraft. At Craftezy, register yourself and buy these lesser-known handmade items before they become vintage. Let us together support B2B handicrafts artisans who are constantly working for Indian handicrafts recognition and support.