Thursday, November 12, 2009




Indian art and handicrafts have since time immemorial captivated the imagination of tourist globally. Every state of India boasts of an exclusively and specialty to its art form, handicraft and traditional skill depending upon its historical influences and raw material available due to climatic and geographical conditions. India is renowned for its variety of paintings, beautiful sculptures in stone, metal, terracotta and elegantly designed ethnic jewellry.

Indian handicrafts have made a name for themselves the world over. Ancient skill since the tradition established in Indian from 3000 B.C. Nature creations and imagination of man gave shape to his art forms in making of pots, jewelry, ivory combs etc. Ancient skills perfected by the craftsmen who have learnt the art from their father, as did their fathers before them. This tradition continues over the centuries safeguarding the wide and varied artistic wealth of India. The institution of the learning and passing the same skill of the next generation is so strong for example the shape of water pot and size of Gharha has not changed since 5000 years inspite of having no school / college teaching the technique of making and firing the pot.

This tradition unfolds itself in an overwhelming variety of products, combining aesthetic appeal with utilitarian value. These handicrafts are like breath of fresh air in of plastic and polymers around you. The high caliber of skill exhibited in creating the products has stood the test of time.

The present era of liberalization and free trade threatened the handicrafts made mainly by the local and ruler people. Almost all handicrafts available in a market of particular place found among the tourist. The tourists provide safeguard to the employment and livelihood to the artisans who create handicraft of a region. In the same way the Handicrafts of Jammu found a market among the tourist in and around Raghunath Bazaar of Jammu.

The bamboo products such as flower vases, fruit bowls, furniture, lamp shades, magazine, racks, paper trays etc. are made in the Kathua District.

The finest woolen blankets are manufactured in Kishtwar. The best ones comes in red and white or grey and white check designs in natural colour or dyed with vegetable and natural dyes and made on handlooms. The puttu of Kishtwar could compete the Hand made Tweed of Reid & Taylor of England if refined in its technique.

These are some villages in Samba (Ghagwal) on the NHIA which make blankets all over the year around and sell them in local religious festival & fair in various parts of the state.

The pattu of Kishtwar and other part of the state manufactured in variety of shade and thickness. The blankets are woven in Banni and Billawar, Kathua, Lati and Ramnagar of Udhampur, Bhaderwah in Doda, Poonch and Rajouri District for local requirement. All over the year round market for these blankets or loie could be noticed on the pavement of the entrance of Jammu railway station.

The art of making metal ware goes back to Indus- Saraswati civilization. The continuity of the art tradition of metal ware in Jammu region with vessels for domestic use, Jammu smiths make hookah, bowls, idols and items made of hand beaten metal sheets. The dying craft have few families in Udhampur, Samba and Basohli who practice this traditional craft.

Samba once flourishing cotton weaving and calico printing handloom Industry vanished in 1947 as the talented craftsmen of Samba fled to Pakistan. The calico printing, block of wood with floral and geometric designs carved on them smeared with vegetable dyes and then press on the cotton cloth will now part of the display in the Dogra Art Gallery, Jammu.

Masands and jajams (with difficult floral pattern) are cotton sheets printed with wooden blocks. These were used as floor covering, divans and floors in living and dining rooms. This art has similarity with the cotton block printing of Sanganer near Jaipur. The peculiar water and climate produce this printing on cotton. Samba has few pockets left where these calico printing handloom Industry still surviving without support and slowing the craft will its own death.

Carpets made in Jammu are made in some handicraft centers in Kathua, Poonch and Udhampur.

Thana Mandi, in Rajouri District is known for rare Chikri tree. Kitsch handicrafts made from the wood are in great demand among all the categories of tourists. The wood is hard, fine grain and light yellow in colour with excellent property for carving on. Apart from toys ashtrays, bowls, cups, spoons and table knives are made. The introduction of the microwave oven also increased the demand of variety of wooden spoons. The Ramnagar town in Udhampur District has one artist who make Chikri wood comb require support for his survival for the dying art.

They are inexpensive cotton floor covering or placed under mattress on beds. They are made in several parts of Jammu. These thick sheets made of cotton, now modified with the increase in cotton prices instead from the cutting of the waste clothes.

With variation in material and work leads to the variety of embroidery done in the various parts of the Jammu province .The shawls embroidered in the” Sozniway” in Kathua, Poonch, Rajouri district .Crewel embroidery is done in Poonch, Rajouri and Udhampur district. Staple or ari work carried out in Kathua, Poonch, and Rajouri district. This specific handicraft survived with the demand from the higher strata of the society in “designer’s showroom” only.

The ingenious art of Chamba Rummala are disappearing from the craft items of Basohli due to coming of machine embroidery.

These shoes manufactured for rough and tough use are made in the various villages on the nomad’s migration routes. Their Machedi and Banni in Basohli are some of these places where shoes are made for Gujjars and Bakerwal.

The traditional Dogra rural designs are reproduced like Nose Ring with extra large with a large precious stone embedded, bangles, the chhaunk phool or a metal cap, silver anklets and Talismans or Taveez are among few favorites of the hill folks. They prefer jewelry made of pure or alloyed silver.

The true exotic chunky jewelry now preferred in the metropolitan cities worn by the women of nomadic Gujjar and Bakerwal tribes. It is invariably of silver or white metal. Kathua is the main centers of manufacture of this type of jewelry with many jewelers of Basohli also make this type of jewelry.

Gujjar Bakerwal jewelry is also manufactured and sold at Bhaderwah, Doda, Kishtwar and Samba. The heavy and chunky jewelry items of these tribes are displayed in the Dogra Art Gallery, Jammu.

The Chikri or Kitsch toys, rolling pin, table lamps , bowls and vases are painted with brown colour and then coated with the protective layer of transparent film of lacquer. The wood done in Thana Mandi, in Rajouri, Kanha Chak of Jammu city, Bernali of Kathua districts are centers this type of handicraft.

The leather work is done in Vijaypur and Khour in the Jammu district among the best in the region.

The palm leaf products as house hold articles like mats, baskets, hand fans and other articles made in the Sungwali, Nagari, Airway Good and Kore-Pune villages of Kathua district. These products get good market in the local religions festivals of the Jammu region. These products also get space in the drawing rooms of the metro city elite class people.

The few families of Saryara in Basohli have skill to carve figures in stone survived which from centuries doing the work of stone carving figures for the Boalies in the Jammu region.

After Kashmir and Kullu pashmina shawls, the shawls of Basohli are important of handicraft in the Jammu region. The finely woven shawls of pashmina made the weaver of Basohli are ethnic Kashmir who has fled to the Jammu, Punjab and Himachal in the late 19th century due to the lack of demand of shawls in Europe.

There is huge quantity of silk produced in the Ramnagar belt of the Udhampur district. Since 19th century the merchants from Beneras ( U.P) and Mysore(Karnataka ) to buy the cocoon of silk. There are few products made in the Jammu region like tasseled or ornament to bind their hair and men weave fine cords of silk for their pyjamas.

Various kinds of baskets and trays are made in Bhaderwah and Doda cities for local consumption.

The ancient terracotta of Manda of Indus Valley Civilization which continued upto the 6th century A.D. with Greek influences could not survive the ravages of time.

The native craft of Punjab Phulkari is a colour sheet of cloth every millimeter of it covered with geometric and floral embroidery. The glaring and glossy look of the thread used is unfinished rough dyed silken floss.

The women wear shawls made of the Phulkari. The local craftsmen, migrated to various region of Jammu province still carry out the work for personal consumption in Kathua, Poonch, and Rajouri and Udhampur district.

The perfumes sold in Jammu near Jama Masjid, Talab Khatikan and Raghunath Bazaar are made most in the perfume town of Kannanj in Central India. The Jasmine and rose perfume are made in Jammu shopped at one of the corner shop in the city chowk.

Early Basohli painting tradition began in 17th century A.D. are known for their vibrant colour Hume faces and tree are stylized rather in their realistic form. They lack depth and prescriptive as in the nature paintings of Mughal phase.

The various schools flourished in the erstwhile estate of Jammu region like Jammu, Poonch, Ramnagar, Jasrota etc. with the support of the artists from the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh. The efforts made of Shri Parvez Diwan for the re-birth of the Basohli School of Painting is worth praising still require some efforts from the court / NGO to come forward to save the dying art of the painting.

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