Bamboo and Cane Crafts of West Bengal include potpourri of items. A unique and beautiful manifestation of the magnificent artistry of West Bengal is 'sitalpati' which are mats made out of Mutra cane. Great skill and artistry are required to join and interlace thin strips of Mutra cane to prepare these mats. These are also known as "cool mats" owing to their property of imparting coolness. These mats are fine and glossy, having a remarkable smoothness. The process of preparing these mats includes dying the strips of cane with striking colours to form beautiful patterns. The craftsmen of North Bengal make attractive motifs of different shapes including diamonds, checks, zigzags, twills and many more on the 'sitalpati', which are delicately woven on flat strips of cane. These renowned cane mats of West Bengal are also designed with motifs of animals, humans or leaves arranged in beautiful sequences and styles, mostly with magenta colour.
Basketry is another extensively practiced and well admired craft of West Bengal. Cane baskets are made of a special kind of cane found in North Bengal. These particular canes are long lasting and the baskets made out of them are used for carrying loads of stones, bricks and grains. Winnowing baskets, made up of bamboo are also exquisite creations. Special variety of these baskets is made for marriage purposes with auspicious paintings on them. Additionally, flower baskets, oblong caskets and oval boxes also deserve a special mention in this artistry.
A kind of unique wall panels for Indian village huts are also crafted by the local craftsmen in West Bengal. These panels are formed by the thick and the hollow variety of cane. Apart from this, cane containers also enlist themselves among the specialties of Bamboo and Cane Crafts of West Bengal. These containers are firstly smoked to bring about a brown shade and then traditional poker work is conferred on them. The artisans of West Bengal also create articles that are used as home decors. A huge variety of exclusively designed furniture that catches the fancy of rural as well as urban people is crafted with bamboo and cane. Besides this, elite handicrafts that are displayed in the exhibitions are also examples of elegant and stylish crafts of bamboo and cane. A famous musical instrument, flute, is also crafted from bamboo.
Bamboo Resources in West Bengal
West Bengal has abundant bamboo resources having a variety of species. Common species include the "genthe", "gonda" and "goda" in thick and heavy varieties and "talta", "beseni" and "muli" in thin, light and hollow varieties of bamboo. Each variety of bamboo has different characteristics and finds its utility in different kinds of artifacts. With adequate water supply, bamboo plants grow very easily without any care or favourable environmental conditions.
Bamboo and Cane Crafts of West Bengal are great contributors in the economic growth of the state if exploited in the right manner. The State Government is making considerable efforts to develop and promote this industry. The National Bamboo Mission (NBM) program is an effective initiative taken in this regard. This NBM funded program aims at encouraging bamboo plantation and production and increasing employment opportunities in this field.
Bamboo and Cane Crafts of West Bengal are highly acclaimed due to its designs and intricate weaving techniques. The artisans of this state have received great admirations from the entire country through exhibitions and trading of their creations. But, in spite of having immense potential in bamboo and cane artistry, West Bengal is still lagging behind in the international market. Lack of infrastructure including distribution channel, packaging and marketing support is the main cause behind this. Presently the handicraft department of West Bengal is concentrating on upgrading these crafts and achieving a firm grip in the international market.