Handicrafts are any of a wide variety of work where useful and decorative objects are made completely by hand or by using only simple tools. It is a traditional main sector of craft, and applies to a wide range of creative and design activities that are related to making things with one’s hands and skill, including work with textiles, moldable and rigid materials, paper, plant fibers etc. Collective terms for handicrafts include artisanry, handicrafting, crafting, and handicraftsmanship.

India is a virtual treasure house of the most exquisite handicrafts. Simple objects of daily life have been crafted with delicate design which gives expression to the creativity of the Indian Artisan. The history of Indian handicrafts goes back to almost 5000 years from now. There are numerous examples of handicrafts from the Indus Valley Civilization.

Types of Handicrafts

Some of the major handicrafts of India are:

  • Glassware
  • Cloth Handicrafts including Tie and Dye and Embroidery Crafts
  • Ivory Carving
  • Terracotta Craft
  • Silver Crafts
  • Clay and Pottery Work
  • Metal Crafts
  • Leather Products
  • Toy Making
  • Stoneware
  • Embroidery Craft
  • Floor Designs


  • The first reference to glass making was found in the Indian epic Mahabharata. However, material evidence does not give any indication of glass beads in the early Harappan Civilisation. The first material evidence was found in the form of beautiful glass beads from the Painted Grey Ware culture of the Ganges Valley (1000 BC). In the Vedic text called Satapatha Brahmana, the term used for glass was kanch or kaca.
  • Archaeological evidences have been found of a glass industry in Brahmapuri and Kolhapur in Maharashtra which was operational between 2 BC-2 AD and produced specialised glassware, called lenticular beads.
  • It seems that the glass industry had made a foray in optical lenses as references of spectacles have been found in the Sanskrit text Vyasayogacharita.
  • In the southern part of India, archaeological evidences have been found of glass at Maski, which is a Chalcolithic site in the Deccan. Other sites that have yielded evidences of glass are Ahar (Rajasthan), Hastinapur and Ahichachhatra (Uttar Pradesh), Eran and Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh), etc.
  • During the medieval period, the Mughals gave patronage to the art of glassware and utilised it as decoration in their monuments like the Sheesh Mahal. Other glass items that were famously manufactured for Mughals were glass hukkas, perfume boxes or ittardans and engraved glasses.
  • Currently, the glass industry has many facets but the most famous one is of glass bangles. The most exquisite ones are made in Hyderabad and are called ‘Churi ka jodas’. Apart from this, Firozabad is famous for glass chandeliers and other decorative pieces. Another centre for glass in Uttar Pradesh is the city of Saharanpur that produces ‘panchkora’ or glass toys for children.
  • Similarly, Patna (Bihar) also produces a peculiar kind of decorative glass beads called ‘Tikuli’. This craft has been almost lost in the corridors of industrialisation. However, it is still worn by the Santhal tribes of Bihar.
  • The Tikuli Art of Bihar is presently also made on glazed hardboards to revive the art form in contemporary and modern context.


The textile tradition of India is varied and rich. India has an old tradition of textiles and is traced back to the Indus valley civilization.


  • Jamdani is one of the finest muslin textiles of Bengal. The historic production of jamdani was patronized by imperial warrants of the Mughal emperors. It is one of the most time and labor-intensive forms of hand loom weaving.
  • Jamdani has its roots in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is a hand-woven, fine cotton fabric deftly embellished with intricate motifs that are expertly woven into the fabric.
  • Jamdani was traditionally done using mill cotton thread, resham silk thread, muga silk and tussar silk thread. It is a specialty weaving style, where patterns are woven into the fabric.

Ikat (Ikkat)

  • Ikat, or ikkat, is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs resist dyeing on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric.
  • In Ikat the resist is formed by binding individual yarns or bundles of yarns with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern. The yarns are then dyed. The bindings may then be altered to create a new pattern and the yarns dyed again with another colour. This process may be repeated multiple times to produce elaborate, multicolored patterns.
  • In other resist-dyeing techniques such as tie-dye and batik the resist is applied to the woven cloth, whereas in Ikat the resist is applied to the yarns before they are woven into cloth. Because the surface design is created in the yarns rather than on the finished cloth, in Ikat both fabric faces are patterned.
  • The finest double Ikat made in Patan, Gujarat is the most complicated, also known as Patan Patola. (Image Below)
  • The Ikat technique in Odisha is known as Bandha. The Odisha style of Ikat has a unique style of flowing designs.
  • The Ikat of Andhra Pradesh is known as is chitki. Telia Rumal (square shaped patterned cloth) is a very laborious double-lkat weave product. The yarn is treated with oil then tied and dyed.
Ikat (Ikkat)
Sari: CottonJamdani, Tangail, Shantipun, Dhaniakhali, Bichiltaputi, Bomkai Kotpad, Pachampalli, Venkatgiri,
Uppada, Siddipet, Narayanpet, Mangalgiri, Chetinad, Bala ram putam, Kasargod, Kuthampally, Chendamangalam Dhoti
Sari: SilkBaluchari, Muga Silk, Sualkuchi Silk, Khandua, Berhampuri, Bomkai Silk, Benaras Brocade, Tanchoi,
Benatasi Butidar, Jangla, BenarasiCutwork, Pochampalli, Dharmavarm, Kanchipuram, Ami Silk, Molkalmuru, Pailhani, Patan Patola, Champa Silk, Ashawali Silk, Salem Silk (Dhoti), Uppada Jamdani.
Sari: Cotton silkChanderi, Maheswari, Kota Doria, Ikal, Gadwal, Covai Kora Cotton.
Dress material: CottonOdisha Ikats, Pochatnpalli Ikals.
Dress material: SilkTanchoi, Benarasi Cutwork, Odisha Ikats, Pochampalli tkals, Tasar Fabric, Muga Fabric, Mekhela’Chadar
Bed sheetOdisha Ikals, Pochampalli Ikats.
Scarf/ Shawal/ ChadarKani Shawl (Hartdspun/Millspun), Kinnori Shawl, Kullu Shawl, Tangaliya Shawl, Kutch Shawl , Wangkhei Phee.

Surface Decoration of Textiles

It includes printing, painting, tie and dye, and embroidery.

Textile Printing

Printing techniques of fabrics include the popular direct printing where carved blocks of wood are used to print bleached cotton or silk; resist printing which makes use of a paste of various materials to print sections of the cloth that are not dyed; and printing of fabrics by using mordants.

Tie and Dye

  • Tie and dye is one of the most widely practiced and traditional methods of textile surface decoration in India.
  • The art of Bandhani or Bandhej, a highly skilled process involves dyeing a fabric tied tightly with a thread at several points, thus producing a variety of patterns depending on the manner in which the cloth is tied.
  • The fabric is tied in intricate patterns with the help of nails, beads or grain. This acts as prevention against seepage of color into the tied areas during dying
  • It goes by different names in different regions:
    • Bandhini (Leheriya Pattern): Rajasthan
    • Bandhej: Gujarat
    • Chungidi: Tamil Nadu
  • A special kind of tie and dye that leads to ripples or wave like patterns in the fabric is called Laharia. This is usually made in Jaipur and Jodhpur.
  • Another kind of tie and dye is called ‘Ikat’, which is also known as the ‘resist dyeing’ method. In this method the resist dying on yarn is repeatedly applied before the cloth is woven. The major centres for this work are Telangana, Odisha, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Other processes from the ancient period that are still being used are Kalamkari, which utilise the art of hand painting on fabrics using vegetable dyes of the deep colours. It is commonly practiced in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Another beautiful technique of fabric decoration is called Batik Art, in which one end of the fabric is permeated with molten wax and then dyed in cold wax to produced batik saris and dupattas that are multicoloured. Batik art is famous in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. The origin of Batik Art is from Indonesia.
Tie and Dye


  • Kalamkari or qalamkari is a type of hand-painted or blockprinted cotton textile, produced in parts of India and Iran.
  • Its name is derived from the words qalam (pen) and kari (craftmanship), meaning drawing with a pen.
  • There are two distinctive styles of kalamkari art in India – the Srikalahasti style and the Machilipatnam style. Both the centres are in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Srikalahasti style of kalamkari, wherein the “kalam” or pen is used for free hand drawing of the subject and filling in the colors, is entirely hand worked.

Applique Work

  • Applique work is a decorative work in which fabric is embellished with pieces of cloth, glass pieces, metals, wood or metal wires stitched on to it. This craft is practiced in many regions of India, but centres in Odisha, Punjab, Gujarat and Rajasthan are famous.
  • In Odisha applique work is an inseparable part of the temple tradition, and its main centre of production is in and around Pipli, a small mtown near Bhubhaneshwar. Traditionally, the applique work of Odisha is used as canopies during the annual Rath Festival at Puri to protect the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra (Lord Jagannath’s brother and sister, respectively).
  • Applique work of Kathiawar region in Gujarat is known as katab.
  • The aaplique quilts made in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan are known as ralli. Rajasthan also has an applique gota and kinari (gold and silver stripes) work
  • In Punjab applique work is combined with embroidery. Small different pieces of clothes are embroidered and then stitched onto larger cloth base.
Applique Work
Tie and Dye/Cloth PaintingProduced mainly inDetails
Paagadu Bandhu Tie and DyeAndhra PradeshIt is also known by an Indonesian name Ikat. In this tie- dye process, the fabric is woven first, resist bindings are then applied to the fabric which is then dyed.
Tehlia Rumal (Resist dyed Textiles)Andhra PradeshIt literally means ‘Oily handkerchief’ where alizarin dyes are used to make the cloth oily.
Ajrakh PrintingGujaratIt is a block-printed textile that is resist-dyed using natural dyes, including indigo and madder. It is done mainly by Khatris Community in Kutch region.
Mata Ni Pachedi (Ritual Cloth Painting)GujaratIt literally means ‘behind the mother goddess’. Red is the main colour used here.
Thigma – Tie Resist DyeingJammu and KashmirNatural ingredients are used to colour the woollen cloth such as soot is used for grey and apple bars and onion peels for brown.
Jadu Patua PaintingJharkhandPatua means scroll on which the paintings are painted by Jadu Community.
Pichhwai PaintingsRajasthanPortrait painting mainly themed around lord Krishna on a cloth or paper.
Dabu printingRajasthanIt is an ancient mud resist hand block printing technique and is very unique.
Muthangi (Pearl Studded attire)Tamil NaduThis type of dress is mainly made for the idols.
Sungadi (Tie Resist Dyeing)Tamil NaduSungudi is the traditional tie and dye technique.
Dhalapathar Parda and FabricsOdishaBy Rangani Community of Odisha.
Kani Shawl (GI)Jammu and KashmirIt is made of delicate Pashmina wool collected from the underbelly of wild Tibetan and Ladakh mountain goats.
Kotpad Handloom Fabric (GI)OdishaIts designs are taken from the geometrical pattern of duck, hand fan, flower, palanquin, fish, animal, etc.
Tangaliya ShawlGujaratIt is a dotted hand woven textile.
Traditional Regional SareesProduced mainly inDetails
PochampalliAndhra PradeshSilk and cotton saree with intricate motifs and geometric ikat style of dyeing. Air India airlines crew wears this saree.
PatolaPatan, GujaratRich handloom sarees
BaluchariMurshidabad, West BengalDepicts ancient stories on its border and pallu. Silk threads are extensively used.
Tanchoi BrocadesVaranasiA kind of banarasi saree where weaving technique involves a single or double warp and two to five colors on the weft on Silk fabric.
ChanderiMadhya PradeshSilk, Zari and Cotton woven together to make a fabric that is lighter than a feather. It is a see through saree.
IlkalKarnatakaUse of kasuti embroidery with chariot and elephant as common motifs.
TantWest BengalCrisp cotton, printed saree.
NauvariMaharashtraA single nine yard sari also known as Kasta saree.
BomkaiOdishaSilk and cotton saree with ikat, embroidery and intricate thread work.
KonradTamil NaduFabric usually has either stripes or checks and a wide border along with motifs of animals and natural elements. It is also called a temple saree.
KosaChhattisgarhA silk saree
PaithaniMaharashtraSilk saree embroidered with gold colour thread and use of parrot as motif.
KalamkariAndhra PradeshUse of pen for painting designs.
KasavuKeralaSaree characterized by thick golden border.
DabuChittorgarh, RajasthanDabu is an ancient mud resist hand block printing technique used on cotton fabric.
JamawarJammu and KashmirBase used is generally wool with a little addition of cotton. The brocaded parts are woven in Silk or Pashmina. Intricate weaving of a Jamawar involves months of hard work.
Uppada Jamdani Saree (GI)Andhra PradeshFinest silk along with pure zari are used as raw materials. Jamdani Sari is a Persian terminology, in which Jam means flower and Dani means Vase.
JamdaniWest BengalFinest muslin with opaque patterns woven on a transparent background.
Venkatagiri Saree (GI)Andhra PradeshThe saree is ornamented with zari in pallow and border. Jacquards are used to weave extra weft designs. Generally, soft and pastel colours are used in the sari.
Kotpad Saree (GI)OdishaUse of natural maddar in dyeing of cotton yarn is the USP of Kotpad products. The design is mainly inspired by the surroundings like duck, hand fan, flower, palanquin, fish, animal, etc.

Embriodery of India

Embriodery of India


  • Phulkari is an embroidery technique from the Punjab region.
  • Literally, it means flower work, which was at one time used as the word for embroidery, but in time the word “Phulkari” became restricted to embroidered shawls and head scarfs.


  • Zardozi embroidery is beautiful metal embroidery, which once used to embellish the attire of the Kings and the royals in India.
  • It was also used to adorn walls of the royal tents, scabbards, wall hangings and the paraphernalia of regal elephants and horses.
  • Zardozi embroidery work involves making elaborate designs, using gold and silver threads. Further adding to the magnificence of the work are the studded pearls and precious stones. Today, craftsmen make use of a combination of copper wire, with a golden or silver polish, and a silk thread.
  • Zardozi embroidery work is mainly a specialty of Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Delhi, Agra, Kashmir, Mumbai, Ajmer and Chennai.


  • The embroidery of Kutch is very picturesque and has the quality of jewellery.
  • The best known is aribharat, which is named after ari, a hook, plied from the top but fed by silk thread from below with the material spread out on a frame.

Banjara Embroidery

  • The embroidery of the Lambada gypsy tribes of Andhra Pradesh, banjara is a mix of applique with mirrors and beadwork.
  • Bright red, yellow, black and white coloured cloth is laid in bands and joined with a white crisscross stitch.


  • The Chikan work of Lucknow involves delicate and subtle embroidery done in white thread on varieties of cloth.
  • It owes its origin to Nur Jehan. Intricate and complex, this work is similar to what is commonly known as shadow work.
  • Simplicity, regularity and evenness of stitches, combined with very fine thread-knots are the highlights of Chikan work.


  • Kashmir is known for and phirans namdahs (woollen(woollen kurtas) rugs) with big floral embroidery in cheerful colours .
  • Crewel embroidery is the same as chain stitch and is usually done with an awl (a small pointed tool for making holes) and is worked from underneath the fabric rather than above.

Gota Work

  • The gold embroidery of Jaipur, known as gota-work, is an intricate form of applique with patterns of amazing richness, worked out in minute detail in fine gold thread.
  • Lengths of wide, golden ribbons are similarly stitched on the edges of the fabric to create an effect of gold zari work.
  • The gota method is commonly used for women’s formal costumes.


  • Kantha is a kind of patchwork embroi- dery, typical of Bihar and West Bengal, in which the ground consists of remnants of white cotton saris, while the threads used for the embroidery are picked from old materials.
  • Floral, animal and bird motifs embroidered on bothcotton and silk are extremely popular.


  • It is a form of raised zari metallic thread embroidery of Rajasthan created by sewing flat stitches on cotton padding.
  • The technique is commonly used for bridal and formal costumes as well as for velvet coverings, tent hangings, curtains and the coverings of animal carts and temple chariots.


  • Kashidakari, more popularly known as Kashmiri embroidery, evolved under the patronage of Persian and Mughal rulers.
  • Inspired by the scenic locales of Kashmir, Kashidakari draws heavily from the flora of the state. A unique feature of Kashidakari is the Kashmiri tea pot and is known for its simple chain stitches.


  • This is typical of the Dharwar region of Karnataka.
  • Kasuti is delicate single thread embroidery done on handloom saris. It is done in two styles called gavanti and murgi and has a wide range of motifs consisting of temples, peacocks, elephants, flowering trees and geometric forms spread across the sari.

Kathi (Rabari Art)

  • This rural art of Gujarat is attributed to the nomadic Rabari tribes of the Kutch region.
  • The work is distinguished by a very unusual technique in which chain stitch embroidery is combined with applique work and enhanced by small mirror-like insertions.
  • The embroidered motifs are generally camels, royal fans, elephants, scorpions and women bearing water.

Patti Ka Kaam

  • It is the exquisite embroidery work of Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh.


  • These are colourful embroidered cloth-hangings typical of Nathdwara in Rajasthan.


  • It is a combination of weaving and embroidery and was once a high status symbol in Manipur.

Toda Embroidery

  • The Toda embroidery has its origins in Tamil Nadu.
  • The Nilgiri Hills, inhabited by the Todu community have their own style called pugur, means flower.
  • This embroidery, like Kantha, is practiced by women.
Name of EmbroideryProduced mainly inDetails
ChikankariLucknow, Uttar PradeshCreated by block printing patterns on the fabric at first and then the embroider stitches along the pattern, and the finished piece is later washed to remove traces of the prints.
KanthaWest Bengal and OdishaThe thread used for Kantha is generally drawn from the border threads of the used cloth and involves different motifs.
PhulkariPunjabEmbroidery of flower motifs with contrast of bright colours on light colored fabric. The stitches are embroidered on the reverse of the cloth.
BaghPunjabIt is similar to phulkari but has embroidery work throughout the whole surface of the fabric.
ZardoziUttar PradeshUses combination of gold, silver or copper wire with silver or golden polish and silk threads.
KashidakariJammu and KashmirSimple chain stitches involving floral patterns. Human and animal figures are generally absent.
AariGujaratCreated in fine, concentric rings of chain stitch using a long hooked needle called the crewel and involve floral motifs.
Mirror workRajasthan and GujaratUse of small pieces of mirrors of various shapes and sizes, stitched in between colourful embroidery.
DharaniyaGujaratEmbroidered wall hangings used at the homes.
HeerGujaratBold geometric patterns worked in silk.
GotaRajasthanSmall pieces of gold zari ribbon are applied onto the fabric with the edges sewn down to create elaborate patterns.
AkshidaBiharSimilar to Bagh.
KasutiKarnatakaKasuti is done with a single thread and involves counting of each thread on the cloth. The patterns are stitched without knots, so that both sides of the cloth look alike.
RabariGujaratEmbroidered animal decorations by the Rabari tribe of Gujarat.
ShamilamiManipurIt mixes weaving and embroidery.
Phool Patti ka KaamAligarh, Uttar PradeshUse of flower petals and leaves as motifs in the embroidery.
TodaToda tribes of Tamil NaduSimilar to Kantha work.
BanniGujaratIt is by the Lohana Community. Use of silk floss for embroidery of geometrical motifs including use of glass works.
BanjaraLambada tribes of Andhra and Banjara tribes of MP.Mix of applique with mirrors and beadwork.
MukeshUttar PradeshInvolves twisting thin metallic threads to create patterns all over the fabric.
KarchobiRajasthanRaised zari metallic thread embroidery created by sewing flat stitches on cotton padding.
PipliPipli village, OdishaBased on patchwork where brightly coloured and patterned fabric pieces are sewn together on a plain background.
Khatwa Applique work (GI)BiharThis applique and patchwork is generally found in wall hangings, shamianas, saris, dupattas, cushion covers, etc.
Lambani (GI)KarnatakaIt is a unique needle craft done by women.
Sozni (or suzani) (GI)Jammu and KashmirThis type of embroidery is also called Dorukha. The motifs are created in satin stitch and worked equally on both sides but different in colours.
Sujni (GI)BiharThe base fabric used is generally red or white. Outlines of the main motif are highlighted with thick chain stitch.
GaraGujaratThis intricate work was introduced by Parsis who brought this technique from China. Gara involves drawing design on a paper at first and then tracing the design on the saree.
KimkhabVaranasi (Uttar Pradesh)It is a type of heavy brocade woven with silk and gold threads. The gold thread is called kalabattu.
Dongaria Scarf – KapragondaOdishaWomen of the Dongaria Kondh tribe embroider a scarf called kapragonda which they wear over a white sari with a red border.
Name of the WeavingProduced mainly inDetails
Pata WeavingBastar, ChhattisgarhSari of this kind is mainly used by tribal women.
Mashru WeavingGujaratThis is a handwoven mix of Silk and Cotton textiles.
Bohra Cap weavingGujarat and Madhya PradeshIt is made using an aluminium vessel as a base, the crochet is begun at the centre and proceeds in a spiral form, from the core to the outer edge. Here both geometric and floral patterns are created.
Patku WeavingGujaratPatku is a tie-dyed textile, woven on a pit loom.
Crochet WorkAndhra PradeshIt is a process of creating fabric by interlocking loops of yarn, thread, or strands of other materials using a crochet hook.
Pattu WeavingRajasthanIt is mainly done on woollen textile. Threads of Pattu is made of either camel or sheep wool.
Wangkhei Phee
(traditional weaving) (GI)
ManipurVery fine white cotton is used for this. The fabric is transparent with designs and patterns on it.
Shaphee Lanphee weaving (GI)ManipurThis traditional textile fabric is woven as a shawl. Meitei women are usually involved in making this type of shawl.
Durrie (Floor mat) WeavingBelongs to (State)
Musallah RugAndhra Pradesh
Namda Felted RugsGujarat
Kaleen : Knotted CarpetsJammu and Kashmir
Khabdan : Pile CarpetsJammu and Kashmir
Navalgund DurrieKarnataka
Panja DhurriePunjab, Rajasthan
Jamakalam (Bhavani Durrie)Tamil Nadu

Ivory Crafting

  • The practice of ivory carving has been prevalent in India since the Vedic period where it was referred to as ‘danta’ probably as a signifier to the elephant’s tusk which was the source of ivory.
  • Recent excavations have shown that during the Harappan period, ivory and objects made of ivory like ivory dice etc. were exported from India to Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and parts of Persian Gulf.
  • Ivory Craft is spread almost throughout India with each region having its own specialty. The ivory carvers of Jaipur, Bengal and Delhi are known for their engraved models of ‘ambari hathi’ or processional elephant, bullock carts, sandals, caskets, and palanquins.
  • Other specialist areas are:
    • Odisha: The Odisha style of offering ivory inlaid furniture to the Jagannath temple at Puri.
    • Jodhpur: Bangles made of ivory.
    • Jaipur: Famous for its jali work used in homes and small art objects.
    • Kerala: Famous for its excellence in painting on ivory.
Ivory Crafting

Wooden Work

Wood Carving

  • It is the artistic practice of shaping and decorating wooden objects into diverse utilitarian and decorative handicrafts items.
  • The most common varieties of wood used for this craft are teak, sal, oak, ebony, mango, sheesham, etc.
  • Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh) is world famous for its wood carving and is known as “Shisham Wood Village” or “Wood City” of India.
  • Other important centers of wood carving in India are Manipur, Bhopal, Nagpur, Chennai, Madurai, Mysore, etc. Kashmir is famous for walnut wood carving.
Wood Carving

Wood Inlay/Marquetry

  • Wood Inlay/Marquetry is the process of decorating the surface of wood by setting in pieces of material such as ivory (traditionally), bone, plastic, shell or wood of different colors.
  • Products with inlay include doors, jewelry boxes, plates, boxes, bowls, cigarette cases, and figures of animals, especially elephants. This craft form was brought to India from Persia in the 18th century.
  • Mysore is home to heritage structures beautifully adorned using wood carvings with inlay work. Royal Indian processions, landscapes, pictures of Gods and Goddesses, scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana are depicted using shade effects in this craft.
  • The craft is concentrated in Mysore and Bengaluru in Karnataka. Other places where this craft is practiced are Bijnor (Punjab), Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh).
Wood Inlay/Marquetry

Wood (Turning and Lacquerware)

  • Wood turning involves the use of lathe on which a rapidly rotating piece of wood is shaped with a chisel to create cylinders spheres or cones.
  • The beauty of this craft lies in painting the smooth wooden shapes. Usually, the turned piece is coated with colored lacquer.
  • Today, lacquer ware production has diversified in response to changing markets. It now includes jewelry, decorative pieces, household utility articles andeducational articles such as skipping rope handles, chess sets, pen holders, paper weights and rubber stamp holders.
  • Etikoppaka in Andhra Pradesh is the hometown of lacquer ware. Chennapatna toys are another famous lacquer and have received the Gl tag.
Wood (Turning and Lacquerware)
Wood CraftsFromDetails
Nirmal Painting (made on wood)TelanganaThe evolution of this art form started from Kakatiya dynasty. It is a precise painting on a wooden surface and finally touched with gold and then varnished.
Kashtakari wood carvingGoaAlong with household products, woodcarving is also visible in churches, temples, houses, etc.
Santalum (Sandalwood carving)KarnatakaIt is mainly used to manufacture idols and products related to religious purposes.
Khatamband Woodcraft (GI)Jammu and
The wood pieces are joined with the help of three different types of joints which forms the basic technique of Khatamband. This used designs originated from the geometrical tessellating patterns of Islamic tradition.
Sikki Grass CraftBiharIt is used to make ornaments, boxes and the containers to store rice, grains and lentils, etc.
Shital Patti Grass matAssamShital means cool and patti means mats. Green patidai or long-stemmed knotless mohtra reeds are used as raw materials to make the mats.
Khunda – Bamboo stavesPunjabIt is used as an essential part of Bhangra dance. These iron tipped staves serve the purpose of a walking aid and weapon.
Kawad Mobile shrinesRajasthanThe portable shrine has multiple folding doors, each of which is painted with representations of epics and myths of Hindu Mythology.
Choktse – TablesSikkimIt is a type of Tibetan small wooden foldable and portable table, carved with customary Buddhist signs such as lotus, mandala and fish.
Likhai (Wood Carving)UttarakhandThe border of the wooden doors are adorned with Tibetan motif like 3-flower, arch and dragons. Sometimes it has 14 rows of curving like swans, parrots, lotus, creepers, etc.
Sankheda Furniture (GI)GujaratIt is made of 100 percent seasoned teakwood. Abstract designs and floral paintings are drawn on wooden furniture with bright shades of gold, silver, maroon, green, vermilion and brown.
Walnut Wood Carving (GI)Jammu and
This traditional carving technique is characterized by high relief and undercut style of carving to elaborate designs. The best quality walnut wood is obtained from Shopian and Anantnag.
Pethapur Printing Blocks (GI)GujaratThis craft is preserved by artisans from Prajapati and Gajjar families. These blocks are used for printing on garments by manufacturers.
Toys (Name)Produced inDetails
Channapatna Toys (GI)KarnatakaTraditionally made from ivory-wood.
Kondapalli Bommalu Toys (GI)Andhra PradeshIt is made using a soft wood. The wooden piece is heated to make it moisture-free. Subsequently, different parts of the toy are carved separately and are then glued together. Example – Ambari Hathi
Kinhal or Kinnal Toys (GI)KarnatakaThis unique wooden craft flourished under the royal patronage of Vijayanagara Empire.

Clay and Pottery Work

  • Pottery has been called the ‘lyric of handicrafts’ because of its irresistible and universal appeal.
  • Clay craft is probably the earliest of man’s creations. Clay pottery is an ancient art form in India dating back to well over 10,000 years. The clay objects found at the excavation sites of the Indus Valley Civilisation point to the high quality of skill and technology of the Indian potter. Jhuker Pottery was related with the people of the Harappan towns like Amri and Chanhudaro situated in Sind.
Clay and Pottery Work
Clay and PotteryOriginFeatures
Khurja PotteryKhurja (UP.)Colorful and sturdy, used to make household items.
Black PotteryAzamgarhSpecial dark tint
Glazed TilesChunar and ChinhatSpecial techniques of glazing
Blue PotteryJaipurMade of Multani Mitti
Kagzi PotteryAlwarDelicate pottery, thin and slightly brittle.
Pokhran PotteryPokhranUsed for household items
Dalgate PotteryJammu & KashmirSpecial glaze used
Karigari PotteryTamil NaduSpecial Centres in South Arcot
SuraiWest BengalCommon Jugware
GopichandanSaurashtraArt objects made of clay

Metal Crafts

There are various types of metal castings that can be achieved in iron, copper, bell metal, etc. Creating ornamentation on metal using techniques like engraving, embossing and damascening makes these crafts unique. Embossing work or repousse is done by raising the design in relief. Engraving is done on a metal by cutting or scratching lines on it. The famous works are:

  • Marodi: Marodi work of Rajasthan uses metal to create etchings on the base metal and filling the gaps with resin.
  • Badla Pots: These are zinc pots from the Marwar region in Rajasthan. The badlas are usually round, semi-circular or rectangular, are sometimes fitted with ice chambers and taps.
  • Nakashi: Moradabad has become famous for khudai or metal engraving work done in nakashi style. They produce a fine and delicate work called barik kam.
  • Koftagiri: Koftagiri or damasceningis another technique of inlaying a light metal on a dark one. It is mostly practised in Alwar and Jaipur to make popular articles are swords, daggers and shields.
  • Meenakari: Meenakari is the enamel work on gold. Delhi and Jaipur are famous for it. Maharaja Man Singh I introduced the beautiful meenakari work in Rajasthan.
  • Tarkashi: The charming technique of laying fine brass or copper wire into carefully chiseled grooves in a metal or wooden surface is called Tarkashi.
  • Bidri Work (Bidriware): The bidri work in which silver inlay work is done against dark metal backgrounds is practised in Bidar in Karnataka.
  • Mohra: A metal craft unique to Himachal is the mohra. Mohras or metal plaques representing a deity are common in Kullu and Chamba.
Metal Crafts

Bronze Crafts

  • In ancient India, metals were used for spears and arrows more than they were used for art. Yet, metal casting has been useful for craftsmanship for more than 5000 years. One of the oldest art form is of bronze work as evinced by the bronze statue of a Dancing Girl from Mohenjo-daro, which has been dated around 3500-3000 BC.
  • We know that the earliest non-ferrous metals used by man were copper and tin and these two were mixed to form Bronze. The earliest literary evidence about different methods of casting bronze can be found in the Matsya Purana. Later texts, Rasaratnakara, also mentioned about metal purity and distillation of zinc.
  • Amongst the bronze craft producing areas, Uttar Pradesh takes precedence as it has major centres like Etawah, Sitapur, Varanasi and Moradabad. They produce decorative items like flower pots, images of Gods and Goddesses. They are also famous for producing ritualistic objects like tamrapatra, kanchantal and panchpatra.
  • Another major centre is Tamil Nadu, which focuses on producing beautiful ancient statues resembling the art forms from Pallava, Chola, Pandyan and Nayaka period.
  • Presently, important centres of Brass work across India are:
Gaja TandavaShiva dancing in the Tandava position.Kerala
Rare Jain imagery and iconsReflects the need of ancient Jain pilgrim centres in Karnataka.Karnataka
Dokra CastingUsed for ornaments made of brass.Odisha and West Bengal
Pahaldar LampsCopper and brass lamps in different styles and shapes.Jaipur and parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Pembarthi craftExquisite sheet metal (brass) art to adorn chariots and temples.Telangana
Name of the Metal CraftProduced mainly inDetails
Bidri Craft (GI)KarnatakaBlackened alloy of zinc and copper is inlaid in thin sheets of silver to make items like hookahs, vases, earrings, showpiece items, etc. which also have a good export market.
Aranmula Kannadi (Metal Mirror) (GI)KeralaBeing a rare piece of craft, it is a handmade metal-alloy mirror, made in Aranmula, a small town in Kerala. The alloy is polished for several days to get mirror’s reflective surface. The composition of alloy is a trade secret of the families involved.
Netturpetti jewellery boxesKeralaIt is an antique handicraft made normally using rosewood and brass curios. It has intricate patterns which are inspired by the temple architecture and traditional art forms of Kerala.
Chandi Tarkashi (Silver Filigree)OdishaAlloy of 90 percent or more pure silver is used. Techniques such as granulation, snow glazing and casting are used innovatively to make ornaments.
Swamimalai Bronze Icons (GI)Tamil NaduSwamimalai is a traditional site where this craft is practiced since Chola Period. Idols of bronze and “panchaloha” (copper, brass, lead silver and gold) are made for religious purposes.

Leather Products

  • The art is known to have existed from 300 BCE.
  • India’s largest leather products are in the footwear line. The traditional ones are more original, individualistic and colourful and largely embroidered or done up in brocade or decorated textile.
  • The extremely comfortable and fashionable Kolhapuri chappals are made in Maharashtra.
  • One of the most popular leather articles of Rajasthan is the Mojadi or Jutti – an attractive footwear item. Here the leather is embroidered, punched, studded and stitched in various eye-catching designs. The best-known centres of traditional footwear are Jaipur and Jodhpur. Kupi, a bottle made of camel hide to keep oil or ‘attar’ (perfume), is a speciality of Bikaner.
  • In the Manoti art of Bikaner, articles like lamps and lampshades are made out of camel hides, which are then coloured and decorated with floral designs and figures and plated with thin gold leaves.
Leather Products
Various Regional FootwearsMainly produced inDetails
Konglan Stitched BootsWest BengalMade in the northern part of West Bengal. These boots have thick leather sole, and high layered sides made from either leather or thick cloth.
Paabu Stitched bootsJammu and KashmirTraditional colourful knee length boots from Ladakh region.
Kolhapuri chappal (GI)Karnataka and MaharashtraHandcrafted pure leather ethnic footwear mainly produced in Kolhapur region of Maharashtra and some parts of Karnataka.
Katki chappalOdishaEthnic Leather footwear.
Tilla jutti (Traditional footwear)PunjabInspired from Indian Rajputana, it is traditionally made up of leather and with extensive embroidery using gold and silver thread.
Mojari (Leather footwear)RajasthanTraditionally, it is made by artisans mostly using tanned leather.
Multani KhussaRajasthan and PunjabIt is made using vegetable tanned leather and is embroidered with brass nails, mirrors, ceramic beads, etc.


  • Following the tropical and geographical situation of India, it is realised that stone masonry and crafting is one of the most popular art in India.
  • In the ancient period, to create exquisite monuments, the artisans needed skills in carving and sculpting. The best examples of stonework can be seen in South Indian towns. The artisans used a range of stones to create their masterpieces like the soft-brittle sandstone to patchy red stone to hard granite.
  • The task was to create lifelike structures that resemble natural postures exhibited by people. The evidence of the sculptures and the architectural façade can be seen from the monuments dated to the Mauryan Period. The best examples would be the rock-cut caves of Ajanta and Ellora, the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho, Buddhist carvings of Sanchi and Bharhut. In the hilly areas, a good example can be seen from the monolithic carving of the rock cut temples at Masrur in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, carved in early 8th century AD.
  • This trend changed considerably in the Mughal period that moved from stone to the marble stonework. They focused on inlay work with colourful stones on marble known as Pietra Dura Work. They also built a lot of monuments using sandstone. Some of the grandest monuments are Taj Mahal and Itmadud- Daulah’s tomb, made of white marble. One of the main centres of procuring marble is Rajasthan, which produces the renowned ‘Sang-e-Marmar’ or the white Makrana marble. Another major place is Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, which makes articles out of dark brown stone called Sang-e-Rathak.
Pietra Dura Work

Floor Designs

  • Floor designs have a universal appeal. This diverse art form cuts across regional boundaries and are seen in many States. They are often made during religious or auspicious family occasions.
  • Generally, the designs are made freehand, beginning at the centre with a dot and then expanding in concentric patterns of geometrical shapes of circles, squares, triangles, straight lines and curves. It is a natural way of drawing, beginning at the centre, growing larger with repetition of pattern.
  • Natural materials and colours which do not stain the floor and can be easily erased are generally used. Therefore, they are not meant to be permanent. For white colour, dry white chalk or lime powder (limestone/chuna), powdered marble or a mixture of rice powder and lime is used.
  • The Chowk Purna of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh and the Aipan designs of Himachal Pradesh adopt squares, circles and triangles as the basic motif. The word chowk (square) is derived from the word chowki (seat) of Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and prosperity). They are made during auspicious festivals and occasions.
  • The Mandana of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh literally means mandan (decoration). The patterns again vary from squares, hexagons, triangles and circles. For preparing a mandana, the ground is cleaned with cowdung and on several occasions finished with crimson red which is obtained from reti (red earth). The Mandanas of Madhya Pradesh use a variety of shapes and designs according to the occasion.
  • Santhias are made in Gujarat to decorate the entrance of houses on important occasions. Rangoli of Maharashtra uses elegant shapes and motifs like lotus, swastik, etc.
  • The Kolam designs of South India are drawn to link an array of dots which vary in number, combination and form. The thin lines are drawn with powdered rice or the white powder of crushed stone on a wet ground. Kolam designs are outlined with red geru. It is also called Hase in Karnataka, Muggulu in Andhra Pradesh and Golam in Kerala.
  • Cosmological bodies are also drawn, especially the Sun and the Moon. Mandapa Kolams are the large floor designs drawn exclusively for marriage ceremonies. Made with wet rice paste, these kolams add sanctity to the marriage hall. In many households, space for worship in homes is sanctified every morning with a Graha Kolam.
  • The Jhonti of Odisha and the Aripana designs of West Bengal and Assam are highly stylised. Conch shells, fish, serpents, flowers, etc. are commonly used as motifs. The designs are drawn on the floor with chalk powder and filled with coloured powder or rice paste coloured with alta (sindoor) for red and turmeric for yellow. It is customary to place a flower before each Aripana design.

Other Famous Handicrafts in India

Name of the HandicraftStateDetails
Papier Mache (GI)Jammu and Kashmir and BiharThis craft is made of paper pulp coarsely meshed and mixed with copper sulphate and rice flour and then moulded into the desired shape.
Gambira MasksWest BengalThe theme of the mask is the musk of Goddess Kali.
Chhau Mask (GI)West BengalChhau mask is mainly used in Chhau dance. Mask consists of various mythological characters like Mahishasur-Mardini, Rama-Sita, etc
Thongjao PotteryManipurIt is a terracotta pottery which includes pitchers, cooking vessels, plates, pot rings, lids, bowls and pots, made mostly by women.
Sanjhi Paper stencilsRajasthanSanjhi paper cutting is an ancient craft of paper stenciling. These stencils were used to make rangoli patterns on walls and floors known as ‘Sanjhi’.
Bitti Chitra (wall painting)RajasthanIt is a mud wall painting. People decorate walls with bitti chitra through which they try to secure house from evil spirits.
Suthai (Stucco Work)Tamil NaduIt is practiced mainly by the craftsmen from Pilamar caste in Kakampudur.
Rambaans Natural Fiber CraftUttarakhandRambaans is a variety of the sisal plant. The fiber is bunched, rolled and braided into toys, ropes, tables, mats, bags, hats, etc.
Molela Clay Ceramics (GI)RajasthanIt is a type of terracotta tiles and murals. It literally means “baked earth”.
Thewa Art Work (GI)RajasthanIt was the invention of Nathuni Sonewalla. It was used in making objects like comb, hairband, coat button, photo frame and jewellery items.
Ganjifa Cards (GI)Karnataka (Mysore)It is a card game which came from Persia. It was very popular during the Mughal Period.

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