(Last Updated on : 19/11/2012)
The deeply entrenched tradition of Indian craft echoes the true colour of India whilst impressing generation after generation amidst their varied forms and styles. For people around the world, India is synonymous to exotic arts and handicraft traditions. A wide range of traditional Indian handicraft reflects the richness of Indian ethnic art and culture. The designs and finishes represent the excellent artistic skills of the craftsmen. Traditional Indian art is inspired by a variety of functions, which can be meaningfully understood only through a comprehensive study of the social, cultural and religious contexts of Indian arts and handicrafts.
Origin of Indian Crafts
Indian craft thrives to be the amalgamation of socio-political via religious influences that mapped India with the onward march of time and space. The spirit of indigenous India allied with the western advancement lie at the core of Indian craft zone. The intriguing history and the fascinating past presently counts for the origin of Indian crafts.
The incalculable artistic and ethnic assortment that has been linked with India and has been symbolised as Oriental Craft by Eurocentric nations have enabled a fusion of motifs, techniques and crafts to increase on this land. The tradition of Indian craft has whirled around religious values, cultural influx, confined needs of the commoners, as well as the special needs of the clientele and royalty, along with an eye for overseas and home trade. Indian craft is the juxtaposed enigma of arts and science: the art requiring talent and technique, and science relying on the knowledge within.
History of Indian Crafts
The history of Indian crafts owes to one of the established civilizations of the globe while dating back to almost 5000 years from present. The primal references of Indian crafts were found in the remnants of Indus Valley Civilization
(3000 B.C.-1700 B.C.). Beginning its journey in the age old days, the craft tradition in India has witnessed enough evolution. Prehistorically Indian handicrafts were basically made for day after day use, the yearning for aesthetic application soon saw development of flooding designs and motifs. An inherent commodity for world trade, crafts thrived to be the paramount pillar for trade mechanism. Indian textiles, permanent dyes had their far flung supremacy in ancient India; silk was exported from India to Europe in the 6th century A.D. Mughal era witnessed the patronage of brilliant artisans and craftsmen endowed with magical bliss and as a result Mughal carpets, ivory bones horns cravings, papier mache. Akbar
, Shah Jahan
invited the skilled artisans from all over the globe. With them breezed in their native art forms and Indian handicrafts sojourned to its pinnacle of perfection. The disintegration of the Mughal Empire
even led to the rapid down fall in the craft industry as the later lost its powerhouse of patronage. Later, with the East India Company engaging in trade with India, and finally dumping India with the products of two way trade, Indian crafts were ousted, and decreased in volume. Indian markets were strategically flooded with machine made goods from Europe, and the quality of the former unable to strife with the later, suffered! Later Swadeshi movement
under Gandhiji`s able leadership adhered to the dawn of reawakening for the plight of Indian craftsmen.
Development of Indian Crafts
The epoch of Industrial Revolution marked a deep stretched structural change in the far flung roads of futuristic Indian craft land. Pre industry days witnessed the craftsmen concentrating in the urban regions, forming guilds, enjoying individual pangs of supremacy. Later, as a result of the industrial revolution, the concept of division of labour was introduced which led to the specialization and mass production by large scale industries limited the crafts to market segments. The advantageous side of this revolution being the horizontal line between demand and supply curve of the homeland crafts. However, Indian craft started and developed within the familiar family network and with urbanisation abolishing the concept of joint family crafts even faced the similar fate.
Forms of Indian Crafts
Each state of India has its own tradition and legacy of handicrafts. Whether the fragile beauty of the Phulkari
art of the North India or the dizzying artistry of the silver filigree work, famous in the eastern India, whether the colossal impact of the stone craft of South India or the artistry of the bidriware of the western India- all demonstrates the elegance and brilliance of Indian craft. From pottery, metal craft, woodcraft, stone works, gems and jewellery, textiles, leatherwork to mesmerizing paintings and awe- inspiring sculptures and statues - India has perfected almost all the arts and handicrafts known to humanity. The types of Indian crafts are varied each standing as the logo of the rich Indian heritage. It is amidst the myriad tradition of Indian craft, the varied traits and the true character of India can be ideated. Be it the sheer brilliance of the brocades of Varanasi
or the warmth of the Kullu shawls of Himachal Pradesh
; be it the elegance of the namdhas of Kashmir
or the artistry of the meenakari
works, the charm and originality of each Indian craft reverberates the heritage of India, unaltered by time.
V.S. Naipaul, writer of Indo-Trinidadian heritage, observes that third world countries need to have a culture of their own, a homogeneous bond of identity, strikingly different from the Eurocentric colonisers thrust upon identity pushing aside the half made societies. Indian crafts dive deep to cater such individualistic upswings. Indian craft amidst their elegance, brilliance and originality thus symbolizes the very essence of Indian-ness whilst reflecting its rich heritage in its past and present, the Oriental Exorcism of the east.