(Last Updated on : 06/01/2011)
Arts and Crafts in Ladakh are essentially produced by the local people and serve their economic needs. Various groups of artists, each acclaimed for a particular produce are found all over Ladakh
. A society of metal works hail from the village of Chiling, and they are said to have descended from Nepali artists who came to Ladakh in the middle of 17th century. These artisans had come to Ladakh to build a colossal idol of Lord Buddha at Shey and since then the tradition has been maintained by the descendants. These artists produce beautiful religious articles using copper, silver and brass. Apart from this, they also make other articles like chang pots, hookkah-bases, teacup stands, ladles and bowls.
A number of influences can be seen in the art and crafts of Ladakh. There is for instance the influence of Kashmir in the carpets and shawls, decorative metal-ware, brocades and other kinds of silk from China and fine shawls etc. These influences are combined with indigenous need to produce beautiful and useful works of art. For instance, the `Pattu,` a rough war woollen material, is used for clothing. The Pattu is made form wool which has been locally produced and semi-professional weavers weave this on portable looms. In the line of woollens, Ladakh is well known for the Pashmina. It is produced from the soft winter under-coat of the Pashmina goat. There are some private co-operatives of local women who get together to produce these Pashmina shawls
of a finer and better variety. Knitting is also well-practised by the Ladakhi women. The carpets produce in Ladakh are done according to the Tibetan technique. In this, crewel-work embroidery work is done and designs are created on cushion covers with stylized flower patterns. These are then enclosed in Tibetan-style geometrical borders forming a most attractive hybrid of images.
Different types of articles of metal and wood are also created by the local artisans. Wood carving forms a very important part of the art and craft of Ladakh. The low carved and painted tables, `chogtse,` which are an essential part of the furnishing of every Ladakhi home, are authentically Ladakhi. Metal objects have their own expression of creativity of the Ladakhis and the blacksmiths called Gara, form a distinct community in Ladakh. Apart from creating utilitarian items like ploughshares and other agricultural implements and cooking pots, the Garas create decorative items like tea- and `chang-pots.` The finer decorative work, in copper or brass embellished with silver, applied to prayer-wheels and other objects used in worship, as well as the impressive household utensils are created by the goldsmith community, Sergar. The artisans of this community also create exclusive and elaborate jewelleries worn by the Ladakhi women.
Religious art and crafts are also produced by the Ladakhis. The statues at some of the Gompas are examples of such works. The artists also produce silver chortens in the Gompas for installation in domestic shrines and temples.
The arts and crafts in Ladakh thus have a lot to offer the tourists.