Indian Lifestory Blogs

#HandmadeInIndia

What are Indian Handicrafts?? We have carefully curated the most flattening Indian Handicrafts all in one place.

Indian handicrafts mimic the rich culture and heritage of the country. While shopping for handicrafts may be considered a touristy thing, gifting a hand-made piece of art to your loved ones can truly make the moment special.

Having its roots in rural crafts, born out of necessity, traditional artisanry focused on creating items for simple, every day-use. While basket weaving and making clay utensils was very much of an everyday job. Urbanization and industrialization made these simple activities into revered art-forms currently dying a slow death.

Indian Handicrafts are often associated with the tradition of a region and take on the region’s name. It builds the reputation of not only the state but also the community of workers and artists associated with it. Be it Mithila painting of Bihar, or Paithani silk sarees from Aurangabad, the Channapatna toys and dolls of Karnataka or the Khurja Pottery of Uttar Pradesh. Each one is known for its origin source and similarly, the locations are known for their revered handicrafts!

“The hand of a craftsman engaged in his craft is always pure” ~ Manu (who was he?)

From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Kutch to Kibithu, the rich regional diversity of culture is mirrored in the variety of Indian Handicraft items and skills available in every region of the country. The stunning craftsmanship, carried forward by generations, often depicts the artists own journey, his life, surroundings, his culture and his aspirations.

The tools used in most of these artifacts, are handmade and sourced locally or assembled from everyday use objects. Raw materials like paint, wood is gathered from nearby forests and villages and more often than not, the canvas is the walls of own homes and community. Given the connection of Indian rural audience with nature and deities, most of these handicrafts depict scenes from mythological scriptures, like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Krishna – Leela. They highlight the various flora and fauna that skirts the region. The handicrafts often portray the life and culture of villages, and thus seem more exquisite to the city-dwellers who have never witnessed these simple activities in their lives.

Protection under the Geographical Indication status gives these art forms some sort of credibility in the International Market of their authenticity and use of traditional methods. Thus, enabling the artists to invest in sustaining their skills. It also ensures you as a buyer and consumer to be assured of originality of your purchase.

Best Gift Ideas from Indian Handicrafts

Bidriware

Originated in 14-15th centuries, from Bidar, Karnataka. The Bidri work is an important export handicraft of India. Made from the metal alloy of zinc and copper, the blackened base is engraved in beautiful patterns by hammering. Silver wires are then laid in the chiseled design to craft ornate hookahs, vases, flower pots, keepsakes, bowls, earrings, trays, ornament boxes, and other jewelry and gifting boxes.

The Bidri art takes inspiration from Persian culture, one can spot designs like Persian rose flower, vine creepers, paisley designs, Quran in Arabic script, stylized poppy plants with beautiful flowers, other flowering plants like lilies, orchid, tulip and geometric design on the bidriware.

The Bidri work, handed over generations, has obtained the Geographical Indications registry from Government of India. If you buy Bidriware, it is considered a symbol of wealth and pride, thus making it one of best gifts.

Sandalwood Carving

Sandalwood has great religious importance and is one of the most expensive flower wood carving material. With abundance of forests and different types of woods available in the southern Indian belt, the artists of Shimoga, Mysore, Bangalore and Tamil Nadu, create wooden artifacts out of sandalwood (Chandan). Also known for its medicinal uses and famous for its aromatic properties, sandalwood is carved into wooden gift boxes, idols, figurines, artifacts, furniture pieces, book covers, temples and decorative panels.

Sandalwood carving is an intricate ritual, practiced by the carvers of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu regions. The craftsmen hand chisels the wood sculptures and design different types of products out of the wood. The art of wood carving is also seen in rose wood boxes with silver details. One must have an art piece of hand carved sandalwood in their homes, simply for the aromatic experience of the Indian Deccan.

Kalamkari

One of the most famous fabric painting style, Kalamkari, refers to the ancient style of hand painting using natural dyes and a tamarind or bamboo pen, called kalam. Generation of artists have been practicing this craft for years, painting kalamkari designs on cotton fabric as a way of telling stories. Artisans hand paint motifs of flowers, animals, peacock, paisleys and divine characters of Hindu mythology scriptures like Mahabharata and Ramayana. The artform, primarily used in kalamkari sarees features vibrant colors and intricate designs.

This traditional art of Andhra Pradesh has now taken inspiration from the latest fashion trends and can be seen at the runways of premier fashion shows. The handicraft is not limited to just sarees but can be seen on various other forms of textiles as well like, scarves, dresses and wall hangings.

Coconut Shell Crafts

The southern coastal boundaries of India ensure an abundance of coconuts. The coconut shell can be used a canvas. Brass broidered coconut shell craft is one of the most famous handicrafts of Kerala. The artisans of Kerala use the shells to showcase their creativity and produce artifacts by carving the shells into lamps, boxes, cups, spoons, and other household items.

This traditional craft skill is practiced in the houses of Calicut and Cherthala mostly. While, the art of coconut shell carving can be seen in other coastal regions as well, Kerala handicrafts are unique boasting of brass embellishments.

Tanjore Painting

A world popular handicraft from Tamil Nadu, Tanjore Painting is named after the town Tanjore and at times called Thanjavur. The artform, traditionally painted on wooden planks, has been adapted onto fabrics like cotton and silk textiles. Some of the richest, and best silk fabrics are used to make Tanjore painting sarees. Paintings have rich and vivid colours and motifs are drawn with inspiration from mythological characters an historical influence. The paintings are made using powders of lime and tamarind seeds and then painting motifs are embellished with gold foil and semi-precious gemstones.

Southern India, people wear traditional Tanjore style painted sarees in festivals, and brides choose this as the wedding attire. A home adorned with Tanjore painting gives it a royal look.

Blue Pottery

Blue Pottery, a handicraft brought from the Turkish and Persian artists in the Mughal period, is one of the most famous Indian handicrafts. In demand from all over the world, blue pottery artifacts are a popular gift in corporate and a must buy for tourists in Jaipur. Championed by painter and artist Kripal Singh Shekhawat, the art of blue pottery has become an industry providing livelihood to lot of craftsmen in Jaipur. Traditional blue pottery artifacts were only made in forms of urns and vases, but now one can buy blue pottery tea sets, cups and saucers, plates, jugs, flower pots and many more things. The original blue colour is derived from cobalt oxide and sometimes has green color as well derived from copper oxide. The blue pottery handicrafts are adorned with different patterns such as flowers, vine creepers and paisleys.

Bandhani

Bandhani or popularly known as Bandhej, is a tie-and-dye method of dyeing fabrics. Practiced in Rajasthan and Gujarat, the artform is popular all over the world for its unique pattern. Bandhani art is made from tying the fabric in tight knots with threads and then dyeing the fabric in bright and vivid colors such as pink, red, blue, yellow and green. Bandhani fabric can be used to make odhnis, sarees and turbans. A different style of bandhani called leheriya, which is worn by women on festive occasions. Bandhej patterns depend on the types of knots like Ekdali (single knot), Dunga shahi (mountain pattern), kodi (teardrop pattern), etc. A Ghatchola lehenga is worn by brides and women during weddings and special occasions. To give the bandhej fabric a royal look, dyed bandhani is embellished with embroidery, mirrorwork, and gota-patti.

Kolhapuri Chappals

Kolhapuri chappals named after the region Kolhapur, Maharashtra are one of the most popular handicrafts of the region. Handmade from leather, these chappals were traditionally named after the small villages they were manufactured in. After the royal family of ‘Saudagars’ discovered the art, they made innovations in the traditional form and gave it a royal appeal. The T-strap footwear was named Kohlapuris to keep the actual origin of the craft a secret. With changing fashion, the Kohlapuri chappals come in various new designs and patterns and embellishments such as sequins, pearls, stones. Once weighing almost 2 kilos, the modern kolhapuris are very light and a must have for young college girls. The unisex footwear can also be worn by men and the designer ones can be used not only as a casual wear but on festivals and occasions as well.

Maheshwari Sarees

Maheshwari Sarees is the traditional handicraft of Madhya Pradesh. Originated from Maheshwar in the 18th century, the legends say that Queen Ahilyabai Holkar had ordered the craftsmen from Malwa and Surat to design a special 9-yard saree thus starting the tradition of Maheshwari weaving and Maheshwari sarees. Maheshwari sarees with their zari borders and simple ethnic motifs have been used a special gift for relatives and guests for years. Traditionally, only silk fabric was used, but not cotton fabric is also heavily used. Woven with cotton and pure silk, the sarees have interesting designs including stripes, checks and floral borders. Apart from traditional dresses, Maheshwari pattern is also now in demand by the fashion industry who make different styles of attires including, dupatta, dresses, salwar kameez and a lot more.  Championed by the Rehwa people, the art of making Maheshwari sarees is being revived and becoming a popular artifact of the region.

Ethical Indian Jewellery & Ornaments

The different jewellery styles found in Indian states are unique to their own culture and region. The lac bangles from Rajasthan are made from an insect resin. The malleable material absorbs heat and colour and transformed into beautiful bangles of various colours. The bangles are then embellished with stones to give them a royal and festive look. Similarly, the Rajasthani Meenakari Jewellery is one of the most exquisite style of Indian ethnic handmade jewellery. The Meenakari work has inspired many fashion designers to design wedding attire for brides adorned with Meenakari and Kundan jewellery. The coloured enamel is used to create intricate designs and patterns on necklaces, earrings, bangles and rings.

Kashmiri Carpets

We all know how mesmerising Kashmir is, but its beauty is not only limited to its lakes and mountains rather it is reflected in its handmade carpets or handmade rugs too. These Cashmere rugs are very similar to Turkish carpets and Persian carpets These rugs popularly known as Dhurries have made their way online. Now Kashmiri carpets or dhurries can be sold in various textures and colours like woollen carpet, silk carpet, jute carpet. Kashmiri silk carpet is most famous among all. Living room carpet, bedroom carpet, wall carpet, bathroom carpet, office carpet, stair carpet are few popular carpets available online. The Kashmir rugs/carpets are majorly inspired from within Kashmir Kashmiri woollen carpet and are the most predominant online sales of handmade knotted rugs. The best carpets online come with an authentication certificate.

Phulkari

Folks around the world talking about a dramatic change in the fashion industry and people are fascinated by the change in trend on a daily basis. But when it comes to cultural and traditional dresses we also see a massive change. Punjabi phulkari has an influence on the fashion industry not only in India but all over the world. Phulkari dupatta has made space for itself in the fashion industry, that’s does mean phulkari is not limited to dupatta, phulkari suit and phulkari salwar is also among many folks. Phulkari suit design is mostly inspired by flora and geometry. Phulkari is available in various shades like red phulkari, yellow phulkari, multicolor phulkari dupatta.

Phulkari has made its way into home décor too. Phulkari cushion covers are the new thing in the home décor. Phulkari dupattas, phulkari suits, and phulkari salwar are available online. Phulkari dupattas are completely handmade. Phulkari craftsmen believe that machines spoil the authenticity of the craft.

Himachali Topi

Himachali Topi is one of the few handicrafts that being used by the local people proudly. Most of the Himachali people wear it with pride and honor. Generally differentiated by regions like Sirmouri cap, Kullu cap, Manali cap, Bushari cap, Oman cap, Uttarakhand cap, Shimla cap, Malana cap. Traditionally the Himachali topi is being accompanied by the Pahadi dress. One of the most demanded Himachali Topi is Kinnauri Topi with flowers. Himachali Topi is available online, but very handful of sites sell Himachali Topi or Kinnauri cap online. This handicraft is on the verge of extinction. The government has taken few steps to revive it. Himachali Topi is indeed India’s most cool cap to be worn with any attire.

Attar

What an amazing feeling it is to walk into a space that smells wonderful!  Scents and fragrances make unforgettable first impressions and vivid memories. Attar can be the most organic and elegant way to mark your presence in the room. Attar is extracted from flowers and other sources like musk. Most prominent attar are rose attar, jasmine attar, musk attar. The Kasturi Musk is the considered most expensive musk. You can buy attar online but its authenticity remains a problem. The most famous brand for attar is Ajmal attar. Oudh is another exclusive range of attar. Anyone can buy oudh online. Attar has fragrances is not only limited to the human body now, attar for office, attar for home even attar for a car is available. Kannuaj attar is the most famous among all. Kannuaj is the perfume capital of India. One of the best quality of attar is available in Chandani Chowk, Delhi. Attar and Oudh here are directly sourced from Kannuj.

Khurja Pottery

A small town in Uttar Pardesh, Khurja is considered to be a haven for potters. It is believed that this art came to India with Afghan King Taimur Lung. Khurja pottery is generally dealt with exotic floral paintings. Khurja pottery is not limited to just vases and pots. Khurja Pottery has entered households through ceramics Khurja Cups, ceramic Khurja Bowls.

Khurja crockery is not a new thing in the market, but it is gaining popularity these days due to the keen interest of many designers. Khurja craftsmen have now included colorus like pale orange and dark red to match market demand. Many designers are trying to give this ancient art a modern touch. Khurja pottery online craze. Many households want Khurja articles as their household décor. The potters of Khurja guard their secrets very strongly. They never reveal their trade secrets to outsiders.

Dhokra

Dhokra is named after an ironsmith tribe ‘Kamar’, native to the state of West Bengal, excelling in this primitive craft form. Restricted now to the western districts of the state, namely – Bankura, Midnapore, Purulia, and Burdwan, this traditional metal smith community has now spread as far as Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and even Andhra Pradesh. The lost wax method of Dhokra casting is even more fascinating than it sounds.

The primary raw material – brass is collected from scrap and old brass utensils. Three types of soil – Black soil, fine soil from the riverbed, and ant-hill soil are used. Black soil which forms the ‘Dhokna’ or cast of the model is collected from the fields.Dhokra is considered on the most prominent tribal jewellery. Dhokra pendent are most the renowed one. While the most Dhokra handicrafts from West Bengal, Chattisgarh is not very much behind. In many weddings Dhokra bangles and Dhokra ear-rings are used. Dhokra is now being recognized globally due to many online businesses. Dhokra artifacts and jewellery is available on plethora of sites.

Madhubani Painting

Madhubani, which by one account means Forest of Honey, (‘Madhu’-honey, ‘Ban’-forest or woods) is a region in Mithila and a distinct identity and language that is believed to go back over 2500 years. These paintings were traditionally created by the women of the Brahman, Dusadh, and Kayastha communities in Mithila region. The art form originated in Madhubani village of the capital city of Ancient Mithila, known as Janakpur and has remained confined to a compact geographical area, with the skills passed on through generations and centuries. Even the content and the style of this art form have largely remained the same. It is for these reasons that Madhubani painting has been accorded the coveted GI (Geographical Indication) status.

Madubani painting is generally related to areas of Bihar and Nepal. Traditional Madhubani paintings were done on the walls but modern Madubani paintings are done canvas, bedsheets, cushions, and crockery too. Radha Krishna Madubani Painting and Peacock Madhubani painting are the most prevalent one among the masses. Some of paintings fetch a huge margin in the international markets. Madubani paintings have a huge fan following in west particularly in North America and Europe.

Naga Shawls

Nagaland is a small North-Eastern state under Indian Union. Nagaland has a rich flora fauna.This flora nad fauna is maintained 16 tribes who inhabit the state. These 16 tribes are Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Kachari, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Kuki, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sumi, Yimchunger, and Zeme-Liangmai (Zeliang). Each tribe is unique in character with its own distinct customs, language and traditional attires. 

Each tribe has its own kind of shawl that differentiates it from the rest. Very few online businesses offer Naga shawls online. Angami Shawl, Ao Naga Shawl, Lotha Naga Shawl, Sumi Naga Shawl, Chakhesang Shawl are few popular Naga shawls.

Bamboo Handicrafts

Extensive use of wood over the ages for furniture and other products has challenged the environment more than ever before. The population of trees and forests is ever receding. This increasing need for wood has been beautifully supplemented by cane and bamboo. These eco-friendly products are light in weight and have their own style and elegance. These products have a high life with minimum maintenance and are at par with wood, if not better. Strips of bamboo and various types of canes are extensively used to manufacture different utility and decorative items. Mats, lamp shades, trays, baskets are weaved and knitted by the skilled hands of the artisans. Cane and bamboo can also be converted into strong and unique furniture, which are very popular now. Jewellery, bags and handbags are the other popular items of this craft. Assam’s and Tripura’s Bamboo handicraft is most famous among all. Most famous Bamboo handicraft products are pen stand, bottles and my personal favourite is Bamboo beer mug. Bamboo handicrafts are gaining popularity because people are becoming more health conscious and bamboo can be an apt substitute for plastic.

Metal Crafts

The art of metal work has been practiced in India since ancient times. The skill in mining, smelting & working of metals was developed thousands of years ago. This craft is an integral part of Indian culture. Indian metal craft is very famous and considered the best in the world. The traditional methods of sand casting & lost wax methods are employed in this field. The craftsman moulds sheets of brass into wonderful objects of art.

The metal artist makes use of many materials and tools to engrave, emboss, or carve out unique designs and figures. Metal handicraft is generally inspired lives of the village around. Like ladies doing yoga, tortoise, tribal musician. On of the most admired Metal Craft is White Metal Craft. Brass decorative item are used all over India. Mostly these items are used during the festive season. In Mordabad, Uttar Pardesh existing brass ware industry is since 19th century. In 1980's various other metal wares like brass; iron, aluminium etc. were also introduced to the art industry of Moradabad. New technologies like Electroplating, lacquering, powder coating etc. also found its way to the industry.

While, India is abounded with innumerable unique arts and crafts styles practiced in the by-lanes of most villages, the industry, in itself is a somber business. Close-knit communities are often reluctant to share their trade – secrets with anyone else apart from their own family members, whilst the younger generation does not see their efforts being rewarded in the commercial market due to absence of reach, network or simply infrastructure. Multiple middlemen often make off with the profits, leaving only paltry amounts in the hands of the craftsmen. Thus, connecting directly to the artists and onboarding them to the bustling, online market of consumers is a sure shot way to get them their due rewards of labor.

So next time when you buy a handmade painting or a terracotta vase to adorn your home, think of the stories from the decades gone, think of the exquisite care gone in its making and think how lucky you are to own a unique piece of art!