Arts and Craft Madhya Pradesh
Bamboo work- Chances are when you visit MP you are bound to find ‘the houses
with the bamboo doors’. Bamboo thickets are a common sight in the state and the
tribals are experts at putting it to use. Crafting bamboo articles for daily as
well as decorative use is a popular pastime of the Gond, Baiga, Korku and Basor
or Basod communities. You can buy anything from agricultural implements, fishing
traps, hunting tools to baskets at local weekly markets. Apart from Chhattisgarh
and Bastar, the main bamboo producing centres are Shahdol, Balaghat, Mandla and
Carpet Weaving-Though MP never took centre stage in the fraught history of
India, it could not remain entirely untouched by the happenings around it. Along
with the Rajputs, Marathas and the British, the mighty Mughals too left their
stamp on this vast state. Carpet-weaving which came to India from Persia, was a
craft very dear to the Mughals. Thanks to their encouragement and patronage,
Gwalior developed into a carpet-weaving centre. The weavers here are undisputed
masters of not only weaving but dyeing too. Alas, as elsewhere in India,
coloring is now done more with synthetic colours instead of eco-friendly natural
dyes. Woollen carpets in vibrant colours with both floral and geometric designs
are a good buy.
Dhurries- The floor coverings of Madhya Pradesh consist mainly of dhurries
(flat-woven carpets) in a rich variety of designs. A dhurrie, essentially a
thick cotton woven fabric, is made near Sironj. The technique of making these
dhurries is quite primitive, but the colours and patterns more than make up for
what they lack in finish. The weaving of these flat carpets is the domain of
women in the rural homes of Sironj, Jhabua, Raigarh and Jabalpur. Especially in
demand are the cotton and woollen punja dhurries, hand-woven in various colours,
with patterns based on kiln designs, geometric traditional motifs and animal and
Metalwork- You’ll hear the ironsmith’s hammer going clang-clang in every little
hamlet of India, but what makes the metalwork of Madhya Pradesh unique is the
creativity and spontaneity that the tribals breathe into it. The Gadhavs of
Bastar, in their simplicity and isolation from the world of progress and modern
civilization, bring forth their own unique view of life, nature and the gods
through age-old processes of metalwork.
The Gond, Muria, Bhatra and Dhruva tribals traditionally offer iron horses,
swings, trishuls (trident, the symbol of the Hindu god Shiva) to gods on
fulfillment of their wishes. Exquisitely carved diyas are gifted to brides to
take to their husband’s home.These artefacts, known loosely as dhokra work, are
predominantly hollow-cast and are produced by the lost-wax process, which has
long been known to these pre-Aryan communities. It is by the free and rapid way
in which they construct a model, unlike the fastidious waxwork of their
counterparts to the south, that the tribal metalworkers are able to achieve
their exciting castings.
The blacksmiths from southern Madhya Pradesh forge and hammer iron into a most
delightful range of oil lamps, tools and statues that depict animals, birds and
men. Using only a few tools and a simple furnace of a handful of coals, the
smiths twist and bend the hot iron into expressive shapes. Such work now adorns
many city homes and most foreigners love to carry a few pieces back to their
Ornaments & Jewellery- All forms of adornment are dear to the hearts of tribals.
The adivasis of MP are no exception. The intricate and artistic twisting of
thread was itself considered an embellishment to round or octahedronal metal
beads used in tribal communities. They often weave cotton thread into a broad
band as a textured or patterned base, then loop in buttons, beads or metallic
droplets intermittently. The people of this state also delight in silver
ornaments. However, articles of particular value are only displayed on weddings
and, to a lesser extent, when visiting fairs and festivals. Ornaments made of
beads, cowries and feathers are also part of tribal costumes. The major centres
for folk ornaments are Tikamgarh, Jhabua and Sheopur-Kalan. The rural and tribal
women folk of Malwa, Nimar and Bastar regions are exceptionally fond of
ornaments, and both men and women wear them.
Drawings on walls of caves and rock shelters served a twofold purpose:
decorating homes and appeasing deities. While the adivasis (tribals) of yore
traced simple, very basic forms to ward off evil spirits and disease, more
sophisticated art survives in the Buddhist rock-carved monasteries of the middle
of the first millennium AD, such as Ajanta in Maharashtra and Bagh in MP. The
Rathwa Bhils of MP and eastern Gujarat commonly install a deity in the form of a
ritual wall painting within the home. Outside the sacred enclosure other
paintings depict incidents from daily life, usually featuring horses.
The Bhils and Bhilala tribes of Madhya Pradesh paint myths related to creation
called Pithora paintings. Horses, elephants, tigers, birds, Gods, men and
objects of daily life are painted in bright multicolored hues. Another form of
art, widely practiced in MP is the mandana. Auspicious diagrams are drawn on the
floor with rice paste, coloured powder, flower petals or grains of rice, often
with symbolic motifs set within floral and geometric patterns. These are meant
to attract cosmic powers for the well being of the household in which it is
done. Mughal miniature paintings also figure as a footnote in MP because the
Persians of the court of Malwa were enthusiastic patrons.
Papier Mache- In Madhya Pradesh, the main centre for papier mache is Ujjain, but
it is also practised in Gwalior, Bhopal and Ratlam. The Nagvanshi community,
which makes mud toys and dolls, is also engaged in the making of papier mache
articles. The traditional expression of this craft was the creation of ornate
articles like vases, figurines and icons. Today, craftspersons in Bhopal and
Gwalior make statues, birds, animals and decorative panels. In Ujjain, the craft
of papier mache brings to life different kinds of splendidly crafted birds with
the artisans using natural colours to create exact replicas of living birds.
Presently, the craftspersons are also experimenting with ways of creating
decorative pottery and furniture in papier mache.
Pottery-The terracotta pottery of Madhya Pradesh is simply remarkable,
especially that art of clay ceramic practiced by the tribals of Bastar.
Traditional statues of elephants, serpents, birds and horses from Bastar are
incomparable in their simplicity and are offered to the local deity as an
offering in lieu of sacrifice. The Bhils of Jhabua and adjacent Chhota Udaipur
in Gujarat also trust in animal offerings made from clay. Their potters mould
distinctive clay horses, camels, elephants, tigers and bullocks that are then
offered to a village deity or to a revered animal itself such as the tiger. Set
down in the sacred grove that always lies in a secluded spot near the
settlement, the terracotta animals are clustered together in a jumble of new and
old, all eventually disintegrating and returning to the earth in their turn.
Sarguja, Raipur and Raigarh have a charming tradition of decorative roof top
tiles, made partly by hand moldings and partly on the wheel. These tiles, shaped
like half tubes, have perched on top of them figures of elephants, monkeys,
bears, reptiles, gods and goddesses and are considered a status symbol among the
Stone-Carving-India's stone carving tradition is perhaps one of the richest in
the world. The famous rock cut temples of Vidisha, the sculptured stone temples
of Khajuraho, the monuments of Orchha and Gwalior, all stand testimony to the
excellence and originality of the stone carvers of Madhya Pradesh. Each region
has a distinct style. Gwalior specializes in jali (lattice) work, Jabalpur and
Tikamgarh in decorative items such as statues of animals and human figures and
Bastar in icons of tribal gods and goddesses and memorial pillars.
Textile Weaving- Ancient texts speak of Madhya Pradesh as a famous centre of
weaving between 7th century and 2nd century BC. Among the finest textures of
northern India are the Maheshwari and Chanderi saris. Weavers settled in
Maheshwar from Surat, Burhanpur and Banaras, at the insistence of Rani Ahilyabai
Holkar of Indore, who supported the growth of handloom weaving. The Maheshwari
sari is gossamer thin - a delicate blend of silk and cotton yarn - made in tiny
checks or stripes with a coloured border.The Chanderi, widely woven in Guna, is
also extremely fine but has a more intricately woven border (with motifs) than
the Maheshwari. The weavers in both Chanderi and Maheshwar are Muslims, while
Hindus take on the trading. As with most handlooms and handicrafts of India,
weaving these saris is mostly a family affair.
Tussar silk woven by the Devangan community of Madhya Pradesh is known by its
Sanskrit name kosa. Raigarh and Champa are important centres for tussar silk
saris and fabrics.
Textile Printing- Due to its strategic location as a central state that shares
its border with many others, Madhya Pradesh has absorbed influences from most
textile traditions of India. The tie-and-dye (bandhani) and block-printing
traditions of Rajasthan and Gujarat are followed in Mandsaur, Indore and Ujjain.
The Malwa and Nimar regions are renowned for their hand block-printed cotton
while the textiles of Bagh, located in the Dhar district, are world-renowned.
Batik, a resist process in which the fabric is painted with molten wax and then
dyed in cold dyes, is done on a large scale in Indore and Bherongarh.
Multi-coloured batik saris, dupattas and bed sheets are popular for their
contrasting color schemes.
Woodcarving-The art of woodcarving has flourished long in Madhya Pradesh, and
the beautifully embellished wooden ceilings, doors and lintels with finely
carved designs are silent testimonials to its glory. The wood carvers of Madhya
Pradesh, with great sensitivity and skill transform different varieties of wood
such as shisham, teak, dhudi, sal and kikar (a prickly tree that keeps its
leaves all through the year and has yellow flowers and also called babul or
subabul) into works of art.
The craftspersons of Bastar and Chattisgarh, Malwa, Nimar and Bundelkhand,
Sheopur-Kalan, and Rewa also make pipes, masks, doors, window frames and
sculptures. The state also offers a variety of painted and lacquered woodcraft
items such as toys, boxes, bedposts, cradle posts and flower vases. The major
centres of this art are Gwalior, Sheopur-Kalan (Morena), Rewa and Budhni