Crafts of Madhya Pradesh

 

 

Other Handicrafts

Gwalior is much more than a carpet-weaving center. It is, in fact, a veritable Mecca of crafts. In the shadow of the imposing old fort, craftsmen hew and chisel marvelously delicate stone jails (perforated screens). And in the narrow, teeming lanes and by lanes of the old city work the craftsmen, who still savor memories of a glorious but not too distant past when their crafts were renowned even far beyond the borders of India.

The craftsmen at Gwalior produce striking papier-mâché articles, colored lacquerware, glass beads, wood, shell and white metal jewelry, terracotta figures and containers, rag dolls, and toys. Gwalior's Batto Bai dolls, named after a craftswoman, measure some four to five feet in height. Made of bamboo, paper and rags, these dolls are extremely popular.

However, these crafts are not the monopoly of Gwalior alone. Colored lacquerware, for instance, is also produced at a number of other centers such as Ratlam, Rewa, Sheopur and Bhopal. Rag dolls are crafted at Khandwa, Indore and Burhanpur. Striking papier-mâché articles are made at Indore, Ujjain and a few more centers. In addition to crafts that are common to a number of specialized centers, there are others that are the monopoly of a particular area and there are still others where craftsmen lend to their work a highly distinctive touch.

Bell metal casting in the lost wax process has long been practiced in places such as Datia and Sagar. Tribal deities, votive lamps, some items of tribal jewelry are amongst the bell metal articles that are produced through the lost wax process.

Perhaps the greatest number of craftsmen and workers in Madhya Pradesh are engaged in crafting the most beautiful of bamboo ware. Leather toys, generally of wild animals, are also a specialty of Madhya Pradesh. At Bhedaghat, craftsmen fashion decorative items from the soft marble rocks found in the area. And in places such as Indore, Bhopal, Ujjain, and Alirajpur, craftsmen work patiently on woodcarvings. There are carved boxes, panels, furniture and figures in various sizes.

Tribal designs and motifs are the interesting features shared by a large number of crafts in Madhya Pradesh-from fabrics to papier-mâché, wood, bamboo and bell metal articles. But perhaps the greatest appeal of the crafts of Madhya Pradesh lies in their strength of tradition and the beauty, sometimes subtle, sometimes stunning, that permeates each craft and inspires the craftsmen to refine their skills


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