History of Bamboo and Cane crafts
Although there is no precise chronicle to record the origin of bamboo and cane craft in India, many historical records of the 2nd Century mentions the craft. Due to the predominant tribal settlement in major parts of ancient India, the craft flourished as a sheer means to cater to home utility items and in some cases weapons for self-defense. The concentration of bamboo is the highest in northeastern India with as many as 38 different species of bamboos recorded in Assam alone. Naturally the bamboo and cane craft flourished the most in this region.
Types of Bamboos and Canes used in crafts
The Indian artisans are dexterous in creating bamboo crafts and arrays of bamboo items are famous in India as well as in abroad. Basically the artisans create variations in their creations. The craftsmen create different items with the help of different bamboos and canes that are locally known as 'sundi', 'barjali', 'harua', 'golla' etc. are required for making furniture and baskets. It is observed that generally three species of canes are exploited in commercial quantities, namely Jati (Calamus tenuis), Tita (Calamus leptesadix) and Lejai (Calamus floribundus). Some less important qualities like Sundi (Calamus garuba) and Raidang (Calamus flagellum) are also extracted for creating superb designs.
Forms of Bamboo and Cane crafts
Generally the products of bamboo are of two types, namely articles required for day-to-day use and of medium quality that are more suited to local requirements. The other type is articles of finer quality, both decorative and functional to meet the requirements and tastes of more sophisticated markets. Items like baskets, Chalani, Crossbows, Kula, Khorahi , Dukula or Tukuri, Dala Dukula or Tali , Doon or Kathi, Bamboo Mats etc. are home utility items. Some of the Indian states are famous for creating beautiful bamboo items like mugs for rice beer, hukkas, musical instruments, floor mats, fishing devices and handles that comprise decorative or fine crafts. In this respect, the name of Assam, Tripura and West Bengal can be mentioned.
Types of Bamboo crafts
This traditional craft has received great success in making winnowing baskets, special Pitaras, oval boxes, oblong caskets, and flower baskets. Assam, a state with abundant raw materials produces a large variety of beautiful cane and bamboo products. Some of the well known crafts are Baskets, Chalani, dolls, toys etc. which are made in different sizes and fine designs. One of the most interesting and colourful item of bamboo is leaf-headgear for tea garden workers and farmers. Umbrella handles made of bamboo are a specialty of the North-East. A number of designs like leaves, plants and creepers are etched on them. A variety of furniture items are made to suit the modern homes. Apart from all these, bamboo mats are extensively used for construction of temporary walls and sheds, big pandals, roofing of country boats, dwelling houses etc.
Types of Cane crafts
Cane is also a famous craft in India. Cane is used to make trays, baskets, bowls, and many utilitarian objects. The core central portion of the cane stick and the strips are used to create beautiful fancy articles. The states of West Bengal, Bihar and Tamil Nadu are renowned for exclusive cane crafts. Walajapet in Vellore District is famous for cane articles. Moreover, stylish furniture is created by canes that are apt for fashionable houses. Mutra Cane is derived from Cooch in Bihar is a popular variety of cane used to made different decorative and utility items.
Bamboo and cane crafts have been getting more admiration from all over India and the government is taking initiatives to promote this type of ancient and tribal craft to capture the international market. The bamboo and cane crafts have been the backbone of the rural economy of the country. The craft has consistently evolved since ages and continues to grow in terms of utility and aesthetics.