Crafts of India

The crafts of India are diverse, rich in history and religion. The aesthetics of each state in India reflect the influence of different empires. Throughout centuries, crafts have been embedded as a culture and tradition within rural communities. They are a constant source of inspiration for contemporary designers and the subject for global exhibitions representing India. Although, now, traditional crafts remain at a standstill in a rapidly developing nation. Rajasthan, recognized by its Royal heritage is also a prominent and well-established craft industry. Craft remains a tradition in Rajasthan, preserved over centuries by the stronghold of the Royal Rajput family. Within the craft industry are smaller occupations. These include, fabric colouration and embellishment, decorative painting and puppetry. Craft workers see this not as an occupation, but rather a mark of respect to their heritage. In the process of fabric colouration, woven fabrics are treated by methods such as tie-dyeing, resist dyeing and direct application. The dupatta worn by women show the popularity of dyeing. In 2008, traditional Jodhpur garments inspired designer Raghavendra Rathore’s collection, Rathore Jodhpur. Fabric dyeing belongs to the Chippa caste of Rajasthan. Fabrics are embellished with mirror embroidery, symbolic to Rajasthan and wooden beading once dyed. The trend of mirror embroidery is also visible on dupattas in Punjab, known as the phulkari. Decorative patterns adorn all surfaces in Rajasthan. Interiors of homes are painted with floral motifs; similar bindi (dotted) designs are seen on garments. The clipped camel is unique to Rajasthan. In this, patterns are imprinted on the hide of the camel, taken place during the Pushkar and Nagaur festivals by the Rabari caste. Puppetry and theatre has remained a popular form of entertainment in Rajasthan. Recently, its popularity has reduced with increased interest in film and television amongst rural communities. The nat bhat caste produces these mar

onette style puppets. Facial expressions are painted on a mango wood head and the body is covered in decorative, Rajasthani clothing. The strings loosely bind the arms and torso together to give flexibility for movement. These puppets usually perform in legends and mythology conveying a moral message. The Rajasthani craft industry is iconic to the identity of India with many of its styles reaching the international market. Tie-dyeing is an example of how international fashion aesthetics have rooted from simple crafts methods of Rajasthan. Gujarat is renowned for its textile production methods. Bordering Rajasthan, the two states share similarities in culture and identity. The ancient Indus Valley Civilization inhabited the entire region, including Rajasthan and Punjab during Medieval India. They embarked on this textile industry in Gujarat. Within textile production, each caste is assigned to an occupation of its own. These are, weaving, dyeing and printing. For example the Salvi caste is assigned to weaving. Garment producers bring these elements together to form the identity of Gujarati textiles. Direct application is a method also symbolic to Gujarati garments. Paint and other applicants are used to form patterns on fabric for dupattas, ghagras (long skirt) and turbans. Block printing is a widely used form of direct application. In Bandhani, a unique Gujarati craft, fabric is tied at different sections before dyeing to create patterns. This foundation of forming patterns through dyeing has emerged from the rural communities of this state. Along with the complete image of a Gujarati woman are large bangles made of ivory and plastic, these are symbols of a married woman. Conch shell and shellac bangles are the most common. Conch shell bangles are plain white with a light shade of a brighter colour where as shellac bangles are shaped as a shell, painted and decorated with glitter. These have in recent years become an accessory in both domestic and international markets.