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Handicrafts of India


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Metal Crafts

Metal work in India dates back to the third millennium, B.C. The earliest bronze figures found at Mohenjodaro (now in Pakistan) reveal a high degree of skill in this art nearly five thousand years ago.

A wide range of metal-wares, in both traditional and contemporary designs, is made by devoted craftsmen who use different techniques and styles.

Engraved brassware with shapes and motifs inspired by leaves, flowers and landscapes of the country come mainly from Moradabad and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, and from Jaipur in Rajasthan. The popular items are the Aftava or traditional wine jugs of the Omar Khayyam type, flower vases, table tops, trays, candle stands, dinner gongs, bells, carving sets, fruit dishes, ashtrays, calendars, chandeliers, paper-weights and other household and decorative items. The engravings at Moradabad come in two styles: (i) the plain style in which a floral pattern is engraved or incised on a tinned brass article, and (ii) the ornamented style in which either the actual ornamentation is embossed in a low relief, or the ground is dug out to bring the floral design into relief against a chased and lacquered background. The engravings from Varanasi have no lacquering. The Jaipur variety is engraved in three styles: the Chikan, Morori and the Bidar. From Bidar and Hyderabad in South India comes a special type of damascened work called bidri. Apart from the richness and variety of its design, the beauty of the bidri-ware lies in the striking contrast between the jet black oxidized background and the lustrous silver or gold inlay. Besides traditional items like hukkas, betel-boxes, goblets, and flower vases, the popular items made are book-holders, menu-card holders, teapots, cigarette cases, ashtrays, decanter stands, paper cutters, cuff-links and fruit dishes.

Metal sculptures of India speak the eternal language of the spirit and are a living monument to the cultural tradition of the country. The bronzes of Swamimalai, Madurai, Madras and Bangalore are among the finest in the Chola tradition: delicate, dignified and majestic. The cire-perdue method of casting (a lost wax process) is the one generally followed. Images are cast both solid and hollow, and some of them are also oxidized. South Indian bronzes have won world-wide reputation for their intrinsic beauty and artistic quality. Brass and bell-metal images produced by tribal people living in Eastern and Central India, known as Ghareva and Dhokra work, have a character of their own. These hollow-cast archetypal images mirror the primordial dynamism of their pre-historic tradition.


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Metal Crafts | Stone Crafts | Pottery | Toys | Ivory & Bone Crafts | Carpets | Basketry | Folk Paintings | Fabric Art | Costume Jewelry | Others | PICTURES


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