HANDICRAFTS

Madhya Pradesh being one of the largest states produces numerous handicrafts. Metal work here is famous along with many other crafts. Madhya Pradesh is a craft lover’s delight. The varied forms of art and crafts of Madhya Pradesh even contribute to the rich culture of the state. Apart from adding a unique charm, handicrafts of this state of central India reflect the painstaking craftsmanship of the place. Chanderi and Maheshwari silk saris are some of the noteworthy crafts of the state. Coarse raw silk called kosa and tussar are also very popular. Cotton bedspreads and cushion covers, chanderi and maheshwari stoles and yards of dress material cater to western tastes. Bastar, Bilaspur, Bhopal, Bundelkhand, Gondwana, Indore, Khajuraho, Malwa, Mandla, Gwalior, Jhabua, Raigarh, Shahdol and Ujjain are some of the prominent centers of the state’s art and crafts. The tribal belt creates stylized figures of people, animals and birds in metal alloys called Dokra and wonderful curios in bell metal. Bead and metal jewellery worn by the tribes is another hot favourite with city dwellers.

Madhya Pradesh has not only rich deposits of green woods, abundant wildlife and monumental heritage but too has a created a niche for itself though the art and crafts of the region. The credit of course goes to the people and their age old traditions that have been besieged upon them by their ancestors. Amidst the ebullient festivity prevails the contrast variety of handicrafts that add charisma and uniqueness to Madhya Pradesh. Be it the silk of the region or the bamboo work, be it folk paintings or stone artifacts, terra cotta or Zari work, the intricate cravings of the métier will evoke the desire to ascertain more about the land and its people.



The metal and Iron craft stands sui generis from all the other areas of the country. The skill required in producing them, is so very embedded in the hands and the minds of the artisans that they seem to add life in these artifacts. Metal craft which is also known as Dhokra work are hollow cast and and are produced by lost-wax process. The Gond, Muria, Bhatra and Dhruva tribals are articulate in the production of these and only a few tools are required to make beautiful castings. Some of the produce includes crafted oil lamps, rice measure bowls and animal figurines. The Iron craft is predominantly an antediluvian practice that was passes on from one generation to the other. There are some tribes like the Gond, Muria, Bhatra, Dhruva that offer crafted diyas, on the marriage of their daughter. They also produce tribal statues that have gained immense momentum among the masses as a decoration for their houses.



Wood carving is one of the main industry of the tribes of Madhya Pradesh. Various objects of daily use, hut dwellings etc are finely carved. Tobacco containers with tortoise and the sun-moon motifs and designs, Combs depicted with animal motifs, intensely carved wooden spears and utensils, carved boxes, panels, furniture and funerary pillars carved with figures are some of the products. The wood carvers of Madhya Pradesh, with great sensitivity and skill transform different varieties of wood such as shisham, teak, dhudi, sal and kikar into works of art. Besides the famous wooden memorials, the craftsmen of Malwa, Nimar and Bundelkhand, Sheopur-Kalan, and Rewa also make pipes, masks, doors, window frames and sculptures. Madhya Pradesh also offers a variety of painted and lacquered woodcraft items such as toys, boxes, bedposts, cradleposts and flower vases. The major centres of this art are Gwalior, Sheopur-Kalan (Morena), Rewa and Budhni (Raisen). With the abundance of Bamboo in the state, Bamboo craft is another interesting craft that finds its place in the handicraft market of Madhya Pradesh. Tribal craftsmen produce many interesting bamboo articles used for daily purpose as well as decorative purpose.


Madhya Pradesh is acclaimed for its weaving. The Chanderi and Maheshwari saris are spun dominantly by the Muslims. Elaborate amount of silk and cotton is used and intricate work is done on them. Kosa silk (Tussar silk) is also a famous product and Raigarh and Champa are important centers for this art. Being in juxtaposition to many other states, Madhya Pradesh has absorbed various art forms and developed it on its own land. Hand Block painting is one of the important art forms. The Malwa and Nimar regions are renowned for their hand block-printed cotton textiles. Natural colours of vegetables and natural dyes are used to colour them. Batik (fabric is painted with wax and dyed in cold dyes) is practiced extensively in Indore and Bherongarh. Tie and dye too is an important form of the Indore and Ujjain regions. Textile weaving is one of the main crafts of Madhya Pradesh. Sarees in subtle shades are woven in places like Chanderi, a village near Gwalior and Maheshwar. These sarees include a wide variety of checks with traditional gold borders. Madhya Pradesh’s craftsmen are equally adept at producing tassar silk handloom fabrics.


The stone crafts of Madhya Pradesh have shown their creative excellence through intricate architectural masterpieces. These are perfectly chiseled and are decorated with inlay work. Stone carving on sandstone carry the rich cultural heritage of royal fascination and the variety that had been explored by the artisans. Stone was amongst the first material used by prehistoric man to create tools. Though items made from stone gave way to, items made from metal, stone continued to be one of the preferred material for making sculptures. Madhya Pradesh has a rich tradition of stone craft. Gwalior is known for jali (lattice) work. Animal and human figures are created in Jabalpur and Tikamgarh. The tribal region of Bastar is well known for sculptures of tribal gods and memorial pillars. The tribal population of Madhya Pradesh are a huge fan of the ornaments and jewellery. A lot of beads, metalic droplets, cotton threads and specially feathers and cowries are used to make the traditional ornaments of the Adivasis (tribal). Silver ornaments also occupy a considerable place. Tikamgarh, Jhabua and Sheopur-Kalan are the hubs for this art. These ornaments are as popular among the men as they are with the women. Malwa, Nimar and Bastar are regions where these ornaments are devoured by the women folk. Bhopal is the place where the great examples of stone craft have been seen. Sonia and Kalimohal areas of Bhopal, and Gokulpura in Agra are the places to where the instances of excellent artistry of stone craft are to be found. Most people of the areas, mainly the artisans of these areas, earn their livelihood by creating outstanding artifacts with stones.


The art of stone carving is perhaps the best in the world. Stone carvers had colonised this land since pre historic ages. Passes on from generations as a family lore each region has their own peculiar style. The monuments and the temples standing in the region are evident of this fact. While Gwalior specialises in Jalli (Lattice) work, Jabalpur and Tikamgarh are renowned for statues of animals and human figures. If you look at a potter while performing this art, it will seem as if a musician is writing poetry with his fingers. Known as Terracotta the articles produced range form a variety of colours and the most common designs are of animal figures and life size images of human forms. The artists of this region normally design beautiful gold and silver jewellery studded with precious as well as semi- precious stones and also pearls. These are always coated with enamel work making them more beautiful. Some of the special type of bangles they made, which are of lac and glass, is worn by all the communities. The anklets, which they used, are clove shaped beads. These are usually made of silver. The artisan used to make chokers, bead chains, earrings, and hair ornaments in the traditional designs. All these ornaments have a golden luster as well. Some of the other important ornaments for married women are Mangalsutra and Hansuli.