The state of Rajasthan is known for its rulers, their royal history, brave battles they fought, their magnificent forts, exquisite cuisine and what not. There’s so much I wish to write about Rajasthan. So, here I am, coming up with my list of some of the most elegant handicrafts in Rajasthan that I’m sure you’d love to have. Here you go–
1. Block Printing Handicrafts in Rajasthan
This style of handicrafts in Rajasthan includes teak/sheesham wood blocks with carefully hand-carved details. Dipped in color, these blocks are used to stamp cotton fabrics. Some villages in Rajasthan are home to people whose only job is to keep this traditional art alive and thriving. The chippas caste of the Bagru village who has been doing this for three centuries now, is one such example.
The color dyes used in the past were based on plant and other natural substances. Now that the times have changed so much, industrial textile dyes are preferred for the same. However, there are still some areas where you might find natural dye based crafts.
The cloth under printing is usually quite long in length and requires the printer to stamp multiple times, and each with perfect positioning as well. This labor intensive style of art demands patience and expertise. The outcome, as we all know, is a lovely piece of art.
2. Pichwai Painting
Pichwai is on over four centuries old style of painting that originated at the town of Nathdwara in Rajasthan. This traditional style of painting, like a few others, is inspired from the life of Lord Krishna. Centuries ago, the art was used only for decorating Shrinathji (a form of Lord krishna) temple in Nathdwara.
The painting is usually done on large pieces of cloth and hold a cultural, as well as, religious value. Pichwai paintings are used as backdrop to idols in temples and similar places of worship. Common themes are tales of Lord Krishna, traditional Indian festivals and celebrations, etc.
Pichwai painters might need weeks (or even months) to create a piece of art; pleasing enough to adorn the charm of Indian temples. The painting style emerged as a textile craft, but we can find the same on paper as well, not very often though. Like most of the Indian painting styles, Pichwai is also dying. I really wish it comes to life again and thrive in temples where it truly belongs.
3. Kathputli (Rajasthani Puppets)
It would be a sin to talk about Handicrafts in Rajasthan, and not mention Kathputli. I don’t think there’s even a single person who wouldn’t like to see a puppet show. The art of Kathputli is believed to be at least a thousand years old! The puppets are all handmade and accessorized with charming outfits.
History tells us that Bhati community was the first to practice Kathputli puppetry at that time. Ever since then, folklores and legends have been passed down through hundreds of generation in form of these Kathputli shows and dances. The art holds a social importance as well because Kathputli is one of the prominent forms of moral education for the young. Village children learn various aspects and issues of society like friendships, marriages, hardships, poverty, compassion and sympathy through these shows.
4. Meenakari Handicrafts in Rajasthan
‘Meena’ is derived from the persian word for Heaven, referring to the color of heaven, and ‘kari’ refers to work. Meenakari originated as metal coloring and ornamenting for jewelry, but now extends to paintings and textiles as well. Usual ingredients of this gorgeous form of art are gold, enamel and some precious stones. There’s also Kundakari, which is another form of Rajasthani handicraft jewelry.
Meenakari art could be seen in forts in Rajasthan, so the art form holds a historical value as well. Rajasthan and Gujarat absorbed the Persian art of Meenakari centuries ago, but it has now become an integral part of Indian traditional wear. Russian, Chinese and Middle Eastern culture have signs of this exquisite art form.
5. Blue Pottery of Jaipur
Historians and artisans believe that Blue Pottery of Jaipur is the only form of no-clay pottery. The ceramic is actually made out of a paste based on borax, Multani Mitti, powdered glass and a few other essential constituents. As the name suggests, the Persian Blue color dye is dominant. However, more and more variants of this cool color were introduced for dying the ceramic.
Many believe that the form has a middle eastern origin. But, the craft was invented in China, so it’s actually an Asian form of hand-crafted pottery. The art of Blue Pottery captured attention of royal families centuries ago, and became a part of their elegant lifestyle. As the time progressed, Blue Pottery lost its dominance around twentieth century. Fortunately, artisans and art enthusiasts brought this beautiful art back to mainstream trends.
6. Bone Handicrafts in Rajasthan
It is a handicraft form based on careful carving of animal bones (mainly camels) to create beautiful art-pieces and figures. The art form was introduced as a substitute of ivory carving which is now illegal in many parts of the world, including India.
Jodhpur in Rajasthan is the home of this handicraft industry. Artists usually work with camel bones because of their easy availability. But even there, the art of carving bones is obviously not limited to camel bones only. Apart from the people who work in this industry, some artists learn bone carving for crafting prototypes of their metal-based designs.
Camel bone carving technique is also sometimes used to carve figures of Indian deities. This is quite controversial as something associated with deaths is used. Keeping all of it aside, I’m sure the art pieces would make good souvenirs that remind you of Rajasthan every time you look at them.
7. Koftgiri (Weapon Artistry)
Koftgiti is an ancient art form of creating intricate designs on weapons kept by royal families. Obviously the art form now is not mainstream anymore, but holds a cultural and historical value for sure. Koftgiri was a Rajasthani handicraft art developed as a specialized form of metal carving and ornamenting that not only enhanced look and feel of the weapons, but also improved grip for use in training and real battles.
Centuries ago, there were families of Koftgiri artists who dedicated their lives to serve the royal families. They specialized in this unique art form and passed down the knowledge and talent for generations. Needless to say, they held a position of respect in the society and were often heftily rewarded for their masterpieces. Some of which are kept safe till date in numerous museum spread across the state. You might find ancient pieces for souvenirs in Udaipur.
also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Assam
also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Gujarat