CRAFTS OF INDIA

Just to name the innumerable crafts of India will turn into a voluminous treatise. Woodwork ranges from the majestically carved furniture of Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur and walnut woodwork of Kashmir, to the minute detailing of Karnataka's fragrant sandalwood artefacts. Rosewood and coconut shells are popular in the South and bamboo in the North-East.

Metal-work shines bright in inlaid and moulded brass, bronze and silver, and triumphs in 'bidriware' where the pattern gleams through the darkened surface, or the lace-light filigree Orissa is famed for, or takes a duller'avatar' in the annular Bengali 'dhokras' and etiolated figurines of Bastar. 'Tarakashi' and 'Koftagiri' involve wires or fillets of a precious metal damascened on to baser foundations. This is also the method for the celebrated Tanjore plates. The 'lost wax' procedure underlies both 'dhokras' and southern Indian moulded-metal images.

Imported from Persia and perfected by Indians, carpet-making is here to stay. Carpet- weavers deserve special mention not only for the Persian pile-weaving that characterizes Srinagar and Jaipur, but also for the felted and hooked rugs of Kashmir, embellished with chain-stitching and the simple braided or woven cotton 'durries' used in every home.

The papier-mache traditions of Kashmir and Bengal terracotta are adapted for everyday use as well as 'pure art'. Delhi, Khurja and Jaipur throw up the distinctive glazed blue pottery, Alwar the fragile 'Kagzi' wares, while Kangra is noted for black pottery as well as a centuries- old tradition in miniatures. Unbaked clay models of deities are crucial to major festivals such as Dussehra, and both clay and wooden toys are common in India. Puppet-making traditions deserve special mention.


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