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Art And Crafts Of India

India is a land abundant in raw materials that have lent themselves to the creative hands of the Indian craftsmen. From expensive materials like ivory, gems and marble; to cheaper ones like clay, cane and bamboo and wood, Indian handicrafts have an amazingly captivating beauty. Another thrilling factor is the numerous processes that these materials go through before they take final shape. Processes like the 'chikan' work and 'phulkari and bagh' work on cloth; certain types of polishing and metal casting or even the filigree work on metals is unique to Indian art.

Indian art has been influenced by many factors, mainly religious, political and social. India is a land of immense diversity. Various traditions, rituals, geographic and climatic conditions, lifestyles and cultures have given birth to numerous styles and designs. It has gradually evolved with the evolution of the civilization.

Early Period

Examples of the 3rd millennium BC from the Indus Valley, found among the remains of the burnt-brick buildings of Mohenjo-Daro, include alabaster and marble figures, terra-cotta figurines of nude goddesses, terra-cotta and faience representations of animals, a copper model of a cart, and numerous square seals of ivory and of faience showing animals and pictographs etc.

The various forms of art & crafts included :


Painting as an art form has flourished in India from very early periods as is evident from literary sources and also from the remnants that have been discovered.

Indian Paintings can be broadly classified as the murals & miniatures. Murals are huge works executed on the walls of solid structures. Classic examples are the paintings in Ajanta & Kailasantaha temple.


The temples constructed over the centuries boast of the sculptures, exhibiting the Indian artisans' talent. The numerous sculptures on temple walls are all hewn out of hard rock & last to date. Rock-cut architecture was perfected by the Buddhists, and was followed by several Hindu rulers. The Pallavas excelled in this art in the South of India. 


Kolam designs have been tradionally handed down to the younger generation by the elders. Today, several organizations and magazines conduct Kolam exhibitions & contests to revive the interest in traditional habits & customs. There are enthusiasts who create fresh new designs, but kolams are basically redrawn by the public following the designs taught by elders or printed in books & magazines.


The manufacture & use of various forms of fine textile varieties can be traced back to the Indus Valley period.  Due to the short life of the textiles, the only evidences are the paintings, sculptures & inscriptions if any.  The images in the paintings & sculptures are seen draped in fine transparent muslin.  In fact, in most paintings the fineness of the cloth is stressed by highlighting only the hem and folds of the dress.  There are clear evidences of the variety of textiles and embroidery in the Ajanta murals  & miniature paintings, temple murals.  The art of weaving and dyeing cotton had been well developed, but silk weaving came later.  The art was practised from 1st century and by the 4th & 5th century, woven silk formed a major portion of exports.  


The spark of creativity was there since the beginning of civilization in India . The immortality of the handicrafts and arts of India maybe attributed to their ability to captivate the beholder. An inspiring range of products are available from timeless creations, which include crafts in wood, papier mache, wood, metal, glass and a variety of other materials.

Indian Dance

using the body as a medium of communication, the expression of dance is perhaps the most intricate and developed, yet easily understood art form. The fascination for Indian dance all over the world is indicative of the deep-felt need to use the human body to express and celebrate the great universal truths. Indian dance does just that in a heightened, reverential form. Also, since dance is physical and visual, it illuminates India 's culture in a direct manner, playing on the sensibilities of the onlooker. Thus, those who are attracted to India will find the idiom of dance the best introduction to India 's rich ethos and traditions.

Indian dance is divided into nritta - the rhythmic elements, nritya - the combination of rhythm with expression and natya - the dramatic element. Nritya is usually expressed through the eyes, hands and facial movements. Nritya combined with nritta makes up the usual dance programmes. To appreciate natya or dance drama, one has to understand and appreciate Indian legends. Most Indian dances take their themes from India 's rich mythology and folk legends. Hindu gods and goddesses like Vishnu and Lakshmi, Rama and Sita, Krishna and Radha are all depicted in classical Indian dances. Each dance form also draws inspiration from stories depicting the life, ethics and beliefs of the Indian people.

Carpet Weaving

The most productive region for carpet weaving in India is Kashmir . It is believed that this craft was not indigenous in India but was introduced by travelers or Haj pilgrims who were fascinated by the beautiful carpet traditions of Central Asia and Persia and wanted to bring these art forms back to India . The design of a carpet is governed by a module, the talim , which indicates the number governed by a module, the  talim ,  which   indicates  the number of knots per square inch and the colour scheme along the weft line of wool or silk, while the wrap is always in cotton.

Cane and bamboo

Cane and bamboo crafts of India are popular across the globe for their functional and aesthetic appeal. Especially in the northeastern states this is an important source of livelihood for the people.

Craftsmen produce a variety of utilitarian items using natural material like cane and bamboo. Not only these materials, readily available, they are also easy to work with and hardly require the use of specialized tools or equipment.

In India crafts associated with cane and bamboo, have generally been carried out by different tribal societies within the country. The tribals, since ancient times, have been using cane and bamboo to give expression to their art and to earn a living.

Cane and bamboo is generally used in the production of items pertaining to furniture and making of baskets and mats.


India has a rich tradition of stone craft. Guilds of masons and stone carvers have existed here since the 7th century B.C. Different types of stones like, marble, soapstone, sand stone are used by craftsmen in India . Stone craft in India is not only restricted to ornate carvings on temples or sculptures of deities, but it is also used in making items like carved panels, tiles, paper weights, pen stands, models of historical buildings, sculptures of animals and humans etc. The basic design is traced on the stone and it is given a crude shape. The final carving is then carried out and the items are polished.

Shell craft

Shells cut in different ways make good paperweights and decorative pieces.
Small shells are used in the production of intricately designed chandeliers, hangers and curtains. Utilitarian items such as key chains, fork and spoons, table lamps, ashtrays, jewelry, buttons, pen stands, small boxes are also made from shells. Shell craft also includes engraving, painting and sculpting of seashells. Decorative shells or shells which are rare and tastefully decorated by nature are also sold as items of decoration.


Embroidery, the art of working raised designs in treads of cotton silk gold or silver upon the surface of the woven cloth with the help of needle has been known in India from very early times Gujarat and Rajasthan boost of a range of mind blogging Kantha of Bengal Zardosi of Delhi kausti of Karnataka phulkari of Punjab the gold thread embroidery and the gota work of Rajasthan the zari work of Hyderabad the mirror work of Gujarat and metal wire embroidery are some of the brilliant specimens of Indian embroidery.
India being a county with such a great diversity the art here is developed differently in each part of the country. As a result, Indian arts include a wide variety of forms and styles.

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