Crafts of Karnataka



Karnataka is a state where the craftsmen bring out wonders through their deft manoeuvers. The vast range of the State's arts and crafts that now embellish royal homes of the past, elite bungalows, and even ordinary hutments, bear testimony to the skill, aesthetic sensibilities, and decorative abilities of the craftsperson. Many craft traditions in Karnataka have been handed down from father to son and this continuity has helped to support a vast variety of handicrafts with their high degrees of perfection.

The State's craftsmen received much patronage from the royalty in the past. Today, the government has set up many agencies and design centers to encourage craft families to continue making handicrafts and also help them to market their ware. This has helped keep many craft traditions alive so that their practitioners can cater not only to the local population but also to the many tourists who visit Karnataka.


Karnataka has come to occupy pride of place in the field of woodcarving. The State's relatively good forest cover provides enough raw material for its craftsmen who continue to employ age-old techniques to carve, inlay, veneer, paint, and lacquer articles in wood. Their skill is manifest in the ancient temples where wood has been used extensively, as also in the intricate fixtures they make for present-day needs in architecture and furniture making.

The lintels and doors of some old homes in the hilly region and the temple cars in villages and towns are literally overflowing with hundreds of intricately carved images of gods and goddesses. Rosewood articles are a favorite with the well-to-do buyers and no tourist leaves the state without carrying at least a beautifully carved rosewood elephant.

Ivory Carving

Ivory carving was yet another popular craft. In recent years, however, because of the ban imposed on the ivory trade, the craft has received a setback. But you can still find articles carved very intricately without floral tracery surrounding the figures. The figures are mostly of gods with Krishna being featured in several aspects. Some of Mysore's masterpieces in ivory are now preserved in the Heritage Museum in Russia and in the South Kensington Museum, London.

Handicrafts Trade
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