Art and Crafts of West Bengal
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- January 27, 2022
West Bengal serves as home to many talented artisans in India. The unique rustic and mystic charm of Bengal crafts is admired by art-lovers the world over. From embroidery to sculpture and sketching to metal crafts, the state has a unique specialization in many forms of craft. The age-old traditional crafts of West Bengal have been so well molded according to the present day demands that it seems that these artisans, apart from their traditional skills, have an expertise in the art of survival as well. Even if you have little understanding of arts and crafts, you will certainly be captivated by the unique handicrafts of West Bengal. Let us know more about them.
Kantha is a very beautiful form of embroidery that originated in West Bengal. It is basically the art of outlining decorative images with running stitch, on clothes, with colorful threads. It is used on saris, dhotis, kurtas, ethnic-wear for men and women, bed-linen, cushion covers, quilts and other such items. A craze amongst foreign tourists, Kantha stitch is best used on cotton and silk.
The terracotta craft of West Bengal is famous throughout the world, for its pastoral and rustic charm. The clay-modeled items that form a part of this craft, made with natural colors, are a viewer’s delight. They were a craze in Bengal during the reign of Malla rulers, in the 16th-17th century. The temple of Vishnupur stands as marvelous example of the terracotta craft of Bengal.
Scroll Painting is done on thick fabrics, with the help of natural colors. Popularly called Pat Chitra in Bengal, they vary in length and height. However an average scroll painting is about 15 ft long. It is divided into a number of compartments, with each compartment carrying an episode of the story being narrated through Pat Chitra.
Conch Shell Crafts
Conch shell craft is one of the most unique and most beautiful forms of handicrafts practiced in West Bengal. It is actually the art of engraving decorative motifs on the natural shells obtained from the ocean. Conchshell crafts are beautiful and delicate, apart from being considered to be extremely auspicious in the Hindu mythology.
Dokra Metal Craft
It is one of the most popular forms of art practiced in Bengal, named after the people who practiced it. It is actually the art of creating statues, jewelries, idols and many other decorative pieces, with the help of clay, wax and molten metal. The best part about Dokra metal crafts is that they are completely original and no replica of any item can ever be made.
One of the oldest crafts of Bengal is pottery. It is practiced in the state with beautiful variations, in exquisite styles. Different kinds of pots, like Mangal Ghat, Lakshmi Ghat, Manasha Ghata and Tulsimancha, are designed here. All of them have their own significance and distinctive style. Apart from being practiced for individual purposes, it is also designed and sold on a commercial scale.
Bankura horses made from terracotta and considered to be auspicious in West Bengal. They are found adorning one or the other corner, in almost all the Bengali households. They are also used in traditional Bengali rituals, as they are considered to represent the holy horses in Sun God’s chariot. When in the state, make sure to buy a sample of this craft, as a souvenir.
Putul, as the Bengali dolls are popularly called, are a craze in the European market. Shaped out of clay, painted in vibrant colors and baked in a kiln, they represent the rural Bengal. Out of several varieties of clay dolls in Bengal, the real-life dolls of Krishna Nagar, depicting various social scenes like Collector’s court, tea garden, pandit sabha and Charak festival, are the most popular.
Sholapith is a milky-white sponge-wood, used for crafting beautiful decorative pieces. It is also known as ‘herbal ivory’, as it seems to look like the milky-white items made from ivory. Sholapith is popularly used to craft head-wears of bridal couples, garlands, decorative fans, animals, birds, dolls, Images of gods and Goddesses, elephant-howdahs, peacock-boats, palanquins, flowers various kinds of crowns and backdrop of Durga Pooja stages.