Content Table Shortcut
Art in Rajasthan finds expression in diverse handicrafts which have irresistible appeal because of their simplicity, beauty, and utility. Utilizing the materials available locally Rajasthan’s craftsmen seek to meet the needs of the people, and in so doing, they give expression to their aesthetic urges and inherited skill.
Its rich heritage has played an important role in the economy of the state. The glittering jewelry and excellent handicrafts of Rajasthan have attracted the people abroad and earned rich dividends. The weaving of muslin, the making of rugs and carpets, dyeing and printing of cotton textile, pottery making, ivory carving, brass, and enamel work are some of the leading crafts of Rajasthan.
The history of handicrafts in Rajasthan can be traced from the remote days when man-made stone tools. Excavations, at Kalibanga, reveal that Rajasthan had been an important center of the ceramic industry whereas excavations at Rangmahal revealed the use of woven fabrics of both coarse and fine quality. The other excavations have also crown lights on the handicrafts such as painted and glazed pottery, bead industry, bangles, and tools, etc.
The clay modeling art has its antiquity to the days of the Indus Valley culture at Kalibanga. The use of Lahanga can be traced back to the Kushan period. Similarly, the use of odhani as an upper garment on the head can well be attested by a number of post-Gupta in the 5th-6th century A.D.
The traditional handicrafts of Rajasthan began to feel the impact of Muslim art and culture. The design of nose pin and other ornaments as painted in the Bhagwat Dashan Kanda in the picture gallery of Jaipur was the result of frequent mixing of the Rajput and Mughal people. Handicraft is those items that are made by human hands and are superbly beautiful, artistic and attractive. Rajasthani handicrafts are age-old, starting from Jaisalmer and going down to Udaipur every king patronized art, culture, and literature throughout his state and rewarded the artists, artisans, and men of literature. Blankets of Jaisalmer, Ivory items, marble statues, blue pottery, ornaments and jewelry of Jaipur, Sanganer and bagroo prints, shoes and ladies shoes, badlas and chunaries of Jodhpur, pad printing and gota work of Nathdwara, moonga and Doria sarees of Kota, pandas made of khus and toys of Sawai Madhapur, the art on gold in Partapgarh.
Did you Know?
Jaipur pottery is known for its excellence throughout the world.
Textile and Embroidery
The cloth is the basic requirement of human beings. People began to cover their bodies first with the tree leaves then with skins of the animals and finally with the clothes. Since then designs and materials used to give an attractive look. The special class of weavers called Chipas are in the textile trade and contributing to its promotion. The traditional method of printing has been retained but the improved method has also been adopted.
Rajasthani prints are in much demand because of its attractive design and simplicity. Jaipur, Sanganer, Bagroo, Jodhpur, and Udipur are the most important centers where textile printing is of a superb degree. The prints are lasting and have glowing colors with artistic designs.
It is a minute needlecraft wherein interesting and artistic designs are made on the cloth with a subtle combination of color. Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, and Kota embroidery work is of superb quality. The embroidery designs expressed even in the folk dresses are indeed fascinating. The interesting designs on the odhani of Rajasthan greatly attract the customers, Not only mirrors but beads, shells and metallic pieces are used in their production. The popular motifs like mango, lotus, peacock, elephant, and camel are used on the fabrics. Floral, fauna designs and natural scenery are embroidered upon the cloth and they produce a marvelous design to look at.
This sarees of Kota with their beautiful zari border, the pagree and pech of Jaipur and Udaipur, tie and dye sarees of Jodhpur, Jaipur, Sikar, Jhunjhunu and Sanganer, blick-printing of clothes in Barmer, Sanganer, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Chittor. Woolen clothes of Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur are very famous. Rajasthan produces approximately 50% of the total wool produced in India and hence it is a great wool center of India. There are mills for processing and cleaning in Churu, Bikaner, And Ladnun.
Gems and Jewellery
Rajasthan is famous center of gems and jewelry. In Jaipur alone more than 32’000 workers are engaged in the work of gems-cutting, gem-polishing and gem slicing. They cut and polish gems in such a manner, that it bring out their brilliance, shine, and luster of gem precious stone worth crores of rupees are sent from here to all parts of the world. Lapidary is an art of cutting of precious and semi-precious stones in an artistic way to give them a shining design and angular shape.
The drillings of gems is done with the help of bows. Gems are cut in various shapes. Garnets are cut in round shape. Rose shape is also famous.
In Jaipur, there is a gem testing laboratory, equipped with the most modern scientific instruments. There is a training school for gem-cutting. Jaipur also deal in rubies, pearls, emeralds, corals, sapphires, hessonite, cat’s eye or lahsunia and tourmaline. It is a very good source of earning foreign exchange and attracting tourists.
The jewelers of Rajasthan knew of more than hundred varieties of precious and semi-precious stones. The nine types of stone popularly called as Navratna are Panna, Manak, Hira, Pukhraj, Moti, Moonga, Lahsunia, Neelam, and Gumedak. Among the precious gems used by Jaipur jewelers were Neelam from Kashmir and diamonds from Panna And Golkunda. Jaipur artists prefer pure metal though it can also be successfully done on 22 and even 18-carat gold.
Enamel originated from Persia, which entered Banaras and later entered in Jaipur. Enamel work is done on gold, silver ornaments and that is the reason, that enamelers settled here to carry on this art of minute work under the patronage of the kings, princes, jaguars, queens, and Seths. Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Ajmer are important centers where enamel work is done on gold and silver ornaments artistically but enamel work done in Jaipur has got its own distinct style and specialty Jaipur artists prefer pure metal though it can also be successfully done on 22 and even 18-carat gold.
Good quality Kundan Work of Jaipur is also of a great dame throughout the world. These type of ornaments are made of gold with precious stones set in gold and thereafter enameling is done.
Nathdwara and Partapgarh are also noted center’s where enameling is done on other metals and even on glass. Kitchi enameling in Jaipur is done on brass utensils, plates, statues, idols, and toys. Hishammuddin ustad of Bikaner and Kudarat Singh of Jaipur are famous for their enameling workmanship.
Mitigation Jewellery has also come up recently and Jaipur has become famous markets attract foreigners because of their great carving for such items.
Rajasthani Jewellery are Bindi, Birla, Tikka, Pipalptra, And Rakhadi on the head; Karan pool, Phooljhumka in the ears; kanthsari, Hansalim Mandali, Jairo, and halo in the neck; Vinta Hatpuri, Ponchi, Cheri, Norri, Kannan, Bajuband, and Kada in the hand; Kandor on the waist Gorpholri, Pajeb, Langar, Tanka, Anwala, Makya, Lacharu, and Hironmari (karulya) on the legs.
Rajasthan is known for the engraving and carving of iron, steel brass, and copper. Embossing of brass, gold, and silver-plated work was prepared with a high degree of skill in the nineteenth century. The three decorative shield depicting Ramayan and Mahabharat scenes and also anecdotes related to the Asvamedha sacrifice restored to by Chakravarti ruler are superb examples of this technique. This type of work was done in 19th century and continued to be practiced till today. This Minakari work on metal flourished at Jaipur and Alwar.
Pottery is the oldest handicraft in India. It comes to be practiced the from proto-historic-times, to which period are ascribed the pottery discovered from Kalibanga area as a result of excavations.
The Rajasthani Potter displays great skill in giving form and design to pots and supplies to people infinite variety of useful pottery. At alwar in Rajasthan the pottery is made of such a thin layer of clay-that is called kagazi. Jaipur produces glazed pottery of floral designs in blue and white. Painted pottery is produced in Kota. The gold lacquered pottery is produced in Bikaner. The designs are done on white-chalk like surface in this pottery. These are not articles of daily use but only decorative objects. Bikaner pottery is sometimes coated with many layers of differently colored lac and colors can be seen through the patterns. Glazed pottery of Jaipur and gold lacquered pottery of Bikaner go back in point of antiquity to the late 18th century. Jaipur pattern is known is blue-pottery and is glazed pottery of floral design in blue and white China clay. The very blue is significant as the blue color is used invariably in all the designs. The large-sized pots and other items decorate the big halls,drawing rooms, hotels and regal places.
Jaipur’s marble carving is the art of animating or infusing life into stone. The various image of deities in the temples of not only Rajasthan but all other states of India speak eloquently of this art. The famous statue at Varanasi, hundreds of idols in the Laxmi Narain temple at Delhi, the beautifully carved image of Gotameshwar at Mysore bear testimony to the excellence of Rajasthani art. Beautiful palaces, temples and forts, standing in every nook and corner of Rajasthan reveal the skill and artistic workmanship of the people of Rajasthan. Even today, there is a street of marble that varies in Jaipur. It is called Silawaton Ka Mohalla.
Jaipur Marble sculptures have a reputation for their finish. The material for these are procured from the Makrana quarries which yield white marble and from Baislana where black marble is available. Image of deities for temples and homes and ornamental figures for brackets carved by Jaipur craftsman are in demand all over the country. Jaipur is the only place where not only marble statues of artistic nature are made but also idols, toys and other artistic creations and figures of deities are chiseled so superbly that they appear naturally living. Other center’s like Pali, Sirohi, Nagur, Udaipur where marble items are made and also having a flourishing trade.
Though Mysore and Trivandrum are famous for workmanship in ivory carving. Bharatpur, Jaipur, and Udaipur are important centers for ivory carving in Rajasthan. Carved images of mythological interest, scenes from contemporary life, combs chess sets and toys are produced in ivory in Rajasthan. Hand-fan with the ground of mats form strips of ivory wares introduced in Moghul times and was at its zenith in Maharaja Ram Singh’s period brought to Rajasthan by Delhi workmen. Ivory bangles and bracelets in Rajasthan are symbol of Suhag and are put on by Rajpur families. Earnings, Chains, idols, flower bases, toys, chess, floral designed presentable pieces are other items which attract foreigners and have a good market. In other items which are in huge demand are lampstands, throne, animals, birds, gift utensils, shields, cups etc. are other items which are in large demand.
Throughout India, the tradition of wood carving is an old one. Ornately carved wooden doors can still be seen in shekhawati and Bikaner. The outstanding example are the floral designs on the projected niche, and balconies of houses, In some of the old palaces in Rajasthan, carved figures are use in the brackets. Brass inlay and wooden doors are also very intricately worked. This type of work has begun in Rajasthan in the 18th century to till today. Carving on wood, puppets and toys are traditional pieces of art, and are always in demand. Udaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Shekhawati region, Bikaner are famous for these artistic pieces and varied items.
Carpets and Mats
Rajasthani carpets are known for their fast color, design and quality of craftmanship. Jaipur, Ajmer and Bikaner jail were at one time centers of carpets industry in Rajasthan. Though carpet are still being produced on the jails at Jsipur & Bikaner carpets on the other hand, are famous for Vienna pattern and wool of superior quality. In Bikaner and Marwar area, wool is worked not only into pile carpers of Persian design, but also into durries and shatranjis. There are some private factories in Jaipur which are producing good variety carpets. Other products like durries, khes, shatranjies are being manufactured in Jodhpur, Bikaner, Udaipur, Jaipur, And Ganganagar etc.
Tie and Dye Work
Rajasthan is known for its tie and dye work. Thought this type of work is being done in Jaipur now, the important centre’s are in Bikaner and marwar region. This work was first started in marwar region during Maldeo’s time but it got encouragement and impetus during the progressive regime of Sardar Singh ji. In Bikaner this handicraft was at its best in Maharaja Ganga Singh ji’s time. Bikaner is known for dyeing work represented through lahariya and mothada patterns. Sanganer and Bagru have a number of chhipas. The process of manufacturing these prints is identical. Only Sanganer has mor glowing colors and their dyes are more lasting. In Rajasthan, the odhani or veil or chuniri means literally a fabric of dotted pattern. This pattern is usually produced by the tie and dye method, bandhani in Rajasthan.
Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur have been known for beautiful lacquered work which is demonstrated not only in lac bangles and bracelets but also in toys and objects like a portable shrine hindola and Issar and Gangaur figures. Udaipur has a long traditional in this craft and produces such items as tables, teapots, lamps, and decorative items in lovely designs and soft shades.
Leather is a fairly utilitarian material used by all the sects of people. Rajasthan cobblers have traditionally shod feet of all kinds, and make mojadies with floral patterns notes for their delicacy. Rajas and Nawabs used wear such Mojadis. The best known centre’s of traditional footwear are Jaipur and Jodhpur. While Jaipur mojadies are soft and delicately embroidered in subtle colors, the patterns of the jodhpuri slippers are robust, in bolder hues which come together in strong contrasts. Leather workers in these two cities have now turned their skills to more modern designs and a range of leather articles from garments to handbags are produced by them.
Bikaner is known for its camel hide bottles, the translucent camel kin lamps and shades. Only one family of Usta is surviving to keep this art alive in Bikaner.
Barmer are produces shoes. The pagrakhi a form of shoe has been very popular. Embroidery on shoes, money bags, belts and leather jackets is the speciality.
Shellac and Glass Craft
Shellac is said to be auspicious in Rajasthan and women wear bangles made of shellac. All over the state, bracelets of shellac are equally popular. Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Pali and Udaipur districts are main places where shellac churies, bracelets, toys, idols, hindolas are prepared. This craft is on decline because of spread of education and wider social communication and therefore ladies have come down to glass churies and bangles but it is still one of the important handicrafts of the state.
Banswara is home of bamboos. Beautiful baskets, chains, tables and the things are made of bamboo. Ajmer and Jaipur are famous for it.
Badlas or water bottles of Jodhpur are also in great demand. They are made of zinc. Rope-making, fan-making from khas, soap making, tar-gut etc. are other cottage industries in Rajasthan.
Conclusively, we can say that Rajasthan state has a long range of handicrafts. It exports handicrafts in huge quantities and earns good foreign exchange. There is a great scope for their development and the Government of Rajasthan is taking vigorous steps to popularize handicrafts.