(Last Updated on : 25/11/2008)
Bengal is famous for its artistic crafts, which manifest the rich tradition of craft in the state. Some of the crafts have a relatively good demand in the national and international market and therefore they have grown into full-fledged industry. This forms the backbone of the rural economy of the state. Some of the handicrafts of the region include clay craft, woodwork, terracotta, pottery, brass and copperware, embroidery, cane works etc.
of Krishnagar in Nadia district create sharply chiseled and finely shaped dolls. The dolls are mostly images of Brahmins, snake charmers, women, and blacksmith. The dolls of Krishnagar are widely acclaimed and have displayed in various museums abroad.
A traditional thrift craft of quilting practiced by craftswomen of West Bengal is the kantha stitch
. For this stitch the women use old and discarded cloth, which are put one on top of the other and stitched together with tiny running stitches to make beautiful floral designs and figures on the surface. Today kantha stitch is done on silk and cotton sarees and is popular embroidery.
The craftsmen of West Bengal have also utilized the pith of shola
, an herbaceous plant growing in the wild to make decorative items. The craftsmen use the light and lustrous inner portions of the plant to make minute and intricate decorations for the deities particularly Goddesses Durga. The craftsmen also make garlands, floral bouquets as well mukuts or hair bands which are worn by Bengali brides and grooms on the wedding day.
One of the renowned crafts of West Bengal is the terracotta craft
especially the Bankura horse. Other than this, there are several utility items, which are made from the rich alluvial clay found on the banks of the river. It is essentially a folk craft where the themes are drawn from epics and old legends. At Kumartuli in Kolkata, the craftsmen are famous for making clay idols of Goddess Durga, which reflect the artistic psyche of the people. The clay idols are not confined amongst the Bengalis of West Bengal. The craftsmen also make replicas of Goddess Durga for those Bengalis who stay abroad.
, which is also called the golden fibre, has been woven and knotted by women of Bengal since ages. Jute is used to make utility as well as decorative items. Jute products range from carpets, decorative tapestries, garden pot hangings, decorative handbags, bedspreads and many more.
is an age-old craft of West Bengal. The craftsmen deftly weave cotton to make threads, which are later woven in to the marvelous tant sarees, which are worn by Bengali women. The tant sarees have a distinct appeal and have a relatively good market not only in other parts of India but abroad as well. The tant sarees of Phulia, Shantipur and Dhaniakhali are famous and have a huge market. The Baluchari sarees, which originated in the district of Murshidabad is another variety of saree for which Bengal is famous. Baluchari sarees have seventeen colours in it with butis sprinkled all over. It is a plain-woven fabric brocaded with untwisted silk thread with distinctive designs. The pallu is decorated with diverse designs ranging from scenes from the Mahabharat and Ramayana, and historical monuments. The sarees are usually in dark shades like red, purple and chocolate. A simple Baluchari has small dots or flowers all over the saree and a flowery border in the pallu.
The craft of scroll painting
is a tradition in West Bengal and the painters are known as patidars. On a long piece of cloth, black earth mixed with cow dung is laid. When the cloth dries, a coating of lac is given to harden it and fill up the porous surface. The outlines of the figures are in black or red and the inside part is filled with vegetable dyes which retain their brilliance over a long period. The icons are bold and unstructured in style.
Durries are woven
by local Bhutias living in Darjeeling. The designs are aesthetic blend of Tibetan and Indian culture. The loom used is a simple bamboo frame and the panja is used to bear the weft thread. The designs mostly range from local folk designs from the old kantha embroideries.
The Conchshell craft
is specific to West Bengal only where the heritage of conchshell craft developed because of its close proximity to the sea. In Calcutta and Midnapore, sankharis or conchshell workers are adept at making fashion bangles, bracelets and a range of ornaments out of conchshell. Along with shell articles, mother of pearl cutlery such as spoons, forks, knives, small plates and jewelry are produced.
Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal is known for leather products
. Tangra, Tiljala, Topsia are places in Kolkata which are famous for tanneries. The tooled leather patterns and the batik work in leather are strikingly different from the general leather products produced in other states. Other than handbags, bags, suitcases, wallets, jackets, shoes, cushions and moorah (small handcrafted stool) covers are also made.
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