May 25, 2024

Exploring the Arts and Crafts of Himachal Pradesh

4 min read

Himachal Pradesh’s rich cultural heritage is reflected in the variety of crafts it produces. From embroidered shawls to Thangkas, Himachal’s handicrafts have found an international market.

The state is famous for rugs made of beaten wool and woven goat hair. You can find people making Namdas while keeping an eye on their cattle, in practically every farm field of Himachal.

Leather Craft

The dazzling beauty of Himachal Pradesh has also inspired the people to create amazing art and crafts. While some of these craft items are created as a part of local festivals, the others have become a permanent feature of Himachali culture. The craftsmen of Himachal are skilled and able to work with a wide range of materials to produce the most creative pieces. These include shawls, accessories, woolen garments and leather embroidery.

Woodwork is another significant craft of Himachal Pradesh and the people here are quite adept at it. They use wood from pine, birch, walnut, wild black mulberry and horse chestnut to weave trays, baskets, sculpture, toys and other household products. Besides these, the craftsmen are also proficient in metalwork and wood carving. These art forms are largely used for religious purposes and can be seen in temples and other such buildings.

Some of the most important metal wares produced in Himachal Pradesh are bell metal, brass, iron and tin. They are used to make a variety of statues, lamps and incense burners. Moreover, the metal jewellery of Himachal is highly appreciated and in high demand around the globe. The museums of Shimla, Chamba and Dharamshala also display a great variety of ancient metalwork that reflects both Tibetan and Rajput influence.

Metal Craft

The metal craft of Himachal Pradesh is a unique art form which utilizes brass, copper, iron and tin for trending household utensils. Himachal artisans also use the metal to make exquisite statuettes, lamps, incense burners, low settees of silver or brass, vessels and ornate musical instruments mostly used in temples. One of the most interesting aspects of Himachal’s metal craft is its Mohras which are metallic patches portraying a god. These can be found in Himachal’s Kullu and Chamba region and are centered around Lord Shiva.

The Himachali people are skilled in basketry and woodwork, both of which are popular handicrafts. The Himachali rumal is a traditional cap worn by the men of Shimla, Kinnaur and other high-altitude areas of the state. It is usually accessorized with a brooch, peacock feathers or marigold flowers. It is often worn with a dhaatu, a head scarf of the Himachali people. The dhaatu can also be embroidered with beautiful designs, some of which are Tibetan in style and others have Rajasthani influences.

Baskets and trays are woven by the Himachali people out of raw materials like pine, birch, mulberry and horse chestnut trees. Woodwork is also a Himachali skill which involves making boxes, utensils, trays, sticks and toys. In addition to these, the Himachali people are also involved in constructing wooden doors for houses.

Wooden Craft

The Himachalis are adept at weaving and wood carving. This is because of the extreme winters in Himachal Pradesh that necessitate woolen garments. Woven from ‘Byangi’ wool, the popular shawls of Himachal are crafted with both simple and intricate patterns and designs. Women are also fond of pottery and carpentry. Besides, the silver jewellery of Kangra, unglazed earthenware of Himachal, and traditional idols are some other renowned handicraft items.

Embroidery is another popular cottage industry of Himachal Pradesh. Traditionally, the women pass their afternoons doing embroidery with needle and thread. The Chamba rumal is an interesting Himachali art that depicts mythological characters on silk and muslin. These embroidered shawls are worn by Himachali women during weddings.

Bamboo basket crafting is a unique Himachali folk craft. The carved designs are Rajasthani in style and Mughal influences. They make baskets, trays and utensils in different shapes. They are also adept in making bamboo brooms and sticks.

The Himachali hat displays their most recognised craft. The embroidered motifs and the finely spun yarns are the hallmark of this traditional piece of clothing. The Himachal shawls are also an impressive form of embroidery. They are woven using the wool of Giangi sheep and come in a variety of colors and designs. Moreover, Himachal rugs are made from beaten wool. These rugs are available in various sizes and can be bought from Himachal’s emporia and shops.

Paintings

Himachal Pradesh is famous for its carpets, leather goods, shawls, metalware and paintings. Pashmina shawls are highly in demand in the country and abroad as well. The state is also known for its colourful Himachali caps and bamboo products like boxes, sofas and racks. The state’s artisans also produce exquisite Thangka paintings. These are brightly coloured cloth paintings, mainly used as ritual works during certain Buddhist festivals and attract a lot of international tourists.

A variety of rugs, carpets and blankets are also made here. These are woven with wool from the reared sheep and goats to produce conventional blankets as well as gudmas (soft fleece shawls). One can also purchase thobis and kharchas, which are traditional floor coverings. The production of numdhas, which are felt embroidered woolen blankets has also been on the rise.

Other handicrafts include basketry and woodwork. The artisans use a Rajasthani style with Mughal influences for their intricate wood carvings. Besides baskets and trays, they manufacture utensils and other items like low benches, spinning wheels, smoking pipes, cradles and wooden jewellery boxes. The carved designs are influenced by the local Himachali and Tibetan styles as well as the Mughal art of Jaipur. Metal craft also includes a variety of temple objects and idols. These fulfil the ritualistic needs of the people and are usually used in various temples of Himachal.

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