The famous Madhya Pradesh arts and crafts are much known for their magnificent aesthetic and utilitarian value. Today, the craft traditions of the Madhyapradesh state have flourished into full-fledged industries in themselves.Bamboo work,Carpet Weaving, Dhurries, Dolls & Toys, Metalwork,Papier Mache,Textile Printingare are some of the other arts form of Madhya Pradesh, that have made their special place and demand in the international market.

Regional Arts and Crafts

Attractions In Madhya Pradesh
India - Madhya Pradesh - Arts and Craft Madhya Pradesh

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 Seoni.

  • 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 human figures.

  • 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 country.

  • 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.

  • Paintings-Art of painting in India goes back to prehistoric times. Evidence of this is rampant in the astounding cave paintings found in Madhya Pradesh.

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 rural people.

  • 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 (Raisen).

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