rajasthan art and craftIn ARTS & CRAFT Rajasthan is among the richest states in the country. May be it was a result of a war like life style of people of Rajasthan which sharpened the creative senses, artistic skills and inspired them to create the best and richest of arts. Rajasthan has created and preserved rich craft heritage which includes fabulous fabrics in lovely prints, precious and semi-precious stones, Kundan Meenakari Jewellery, embroidered leather work, other hand crafted items of wood, ivory, lac, glass, brass, silver and gold. Each period of history saw it's own contribution to the thriving art scene. History of Rajasthan reveals that the Kings and nobles were patrons of Art and Craft and they encouraged the craftsmen in activities ranging from wood and marble carving to weaving, pottery and painting. People of this region had a strong desire to decorate their surroundings. The great palaces were decorated with as much attention as the walls of mud. When Rajputs came to dominate the region they were constantly involved into fights. With the new ruler coming,there used to be a change in the art and culture of that area. This led to a change in the paintings and led to a great variety in the end. The Rajputs have been the patrons of the art. Their contact with the Mughals led to a strong influence of art on their lives. The Rajput rulers encouraged the artisans by setting up schools for the propagation of their crafts. Each Rajput principally had his own unique craft and to this day, every little town and village has it's share of lanes where the craftsmen can be found practicing a craft handed down by the ancestors.
 
 
Some of the popular crafts :
 
 
Carpets And Durries
The hand knotted woolen carpets of Tonk, Bikaner and Jaipur, are generally based on Persian styles.The traditional cotton durries of Jaipur, Jodhpur are, mostly in pastel shades with geometrical motifs design.These can brighten any dullest floor. Woolen Namda of Tonk (non woven) are equally popular.  
 
 
Jewellery:
Rajasthan is rich in jewellery, each area having it's own unique style. Some of the traditional design are rakhri, bala, bajuband, gajra, gokhru, jod, etc. tribal women wear heavy, simply crafted silver jewellery . Men also wear ornaments in the form of chockers and earrings.
During Mughal Empire, Rajasthan became a major centre for production of fine kind of jewellery. It was a true blend of the Mughal with the Rajasthani craftsman ship. The Mughals brought sophisticated design and new technical know-how of the Persians origin with them.

 
 
Meenakari :
The Meenakari is known as, the setting of precious stones into gold and the enameling of gold. This intricate art was brought in Jaipur by Raja Mansingh of Amer by inviting some skilled workers from Lahore. The art grown over the years. Jaipur Meenakari is famous for it's delicacy and colourfulness. Alwar, Pratapgarh and Nathdwara are other centers, which produce fine quality enamel work.

 
 
Kundan :
A speciality of Rajasthan, is work of Kundan, the jewellery in which kundan is applied, mostly made from a core of lac, a natural resin. The pieces which make up the finished object are first shaped by specialised craftsmen (and solder together if the shape is complicated). Holes are cut for the stones, any engraving or chasing is carried out, and the pieces are enameled. When the stones are to be set, lac is inserted in the back, and is then visible in the front through the holes. Highly refined gold, the kundan, is then used to cover the lac and the stone is pushed into the kundan. More Kundan is applied around the edges to strengthen the setting and give it a neat appearance. This was the only form of setting for stones in gold until claw settings were introduced under the influence of western jewellery in the nineteenth century. More than one craftsman was often involved in the making of a single piece of jewellery. The chiterias made the design, the ghaarias the engraving, the meenakar was the enameller and the sunar was the goldsmith. These craftsmen received patronage from the nobles and the kings, and therefore, they Do not have to compromise their art for the sake of popular taste. They could take as long as they liked over a piece of jewellery.
 
 
The Masculine Jewellery

Turban jewellery :
Turbans are heavily encrusted with jewels and fastened with a gem set kalangi or aigrette.
The ornament worn in front of the turban is called a sarpech. It was often extended into a golden bank set with emeralds, rubbies, diamonds. Pearls were greatly loved by the Maharajas and they often wore double or triple strings of pearls with pendant of precious stones round their necks. Men also wore earrings, jeweled sashes around their waists and several rings on every finger. It was a status symbol and a portable display of wealth, and consequently, power. The common man of Rajasthan has traditionally worn jewellery too, though what he wears is made from more modest metals like silver, and gems are substituted by coloured glass.Earrings, armlets and anklets of silver are still commonly seen adorning the rural Rajasthani male. Males also wear necklaces, earrings and lucky charms which are considered to ward off evil.

 
  The Feminine Jewellery
Feminine jewellery is more complex than masculine jewellery. Ladies generally wear a number of jewellery right from head to Foot.These are :

Karan fhool
Nose ring (nuth)
Hair pins
Jhumka
Chuda
Borla
Bangles and rings
Bujband
Payal (jhanjhar) for foot
Hathphool around arms and fingers
Kardhani around west
Rings on the toes
necklace and Champakali around the neck
   

and so on, any number to be worn at the same time. So it is not surprising that the ladies of Rajasthan were be decked from head to toe in jewellery, so much so that it sometimes is an mystery as to how they could carry the weight of all the jewellery worn.
 
  Ivory:
Ivory is often used to make jewellery, especially bangles, which are considered an essential part of bridal jewellery. The bangles are often over laid with gold. They are often dyed in various colors, though the most popular one is red. Ivory is also inlaid and shaped into intricate items of great beauty. Miniature paintings were also executed on the ivory.
 
  Lac and Glass : Lac is mainly used bangles and decorative items. Lac bangles are made in bright colours. These bangles and decorative items are inlaid with glass and coloured stone.
 
  Leather Wear
The world fame jootis are made from leather having artistically emroidered uppers. These are incredibly comfortable and sturdy. Jaipur, Jodhpur, Barmer and Jaisalmer are traditionally known for these footwear. Leather is also an essential raw material for making musical instruments such as the tabla, dhol, kamaycha. These instruments are used by Rajasthani folk musicians. Bikaner is known for its painted lamp shades, shields and vases made from camel hide . Designer hand-bags, purses, belts, hats, stools and collapsible chairs with graphic embroideries made from leather at Tilonia village near Ajmer is also example of good craft manship.
 
 
Paintings :
From palaces to huts, paintings can be found everywhere in many colours and forms. Rajasthani paintings can broadly be classified into Wall, Cloth and Miniature Paintings.
 
 
Wall Painting :
Palaces, Havelies, even huts are commonly having Walls and ceilings covered with colourful paintings in Rajasthan. Some of the finest paintings can be seen in havelis of the Shekhawati region and the ancient towns of Bundi and Kota. And some of the most humorous on the walls of houses tucked away in the lanes of Jaisalmer.

 
 
Cloth Paintings :
They include the phad and the pichwai (cloth hanging used behind the deity in Vaishnava temples such as the temple of Shrinathji at Nathdwara). Done in bright colours with bold outlines, these paintings have strong religious traditions.
 
 
Miniature Paintings :
Different schools of this fascinating art have flourished here since the 16th century, each with its own distinctive style. The Kishangarh school is best known for its Bani Thani paintings. A totally different style with highly exaggerated features - long necks, large almond-shaped eyes, long fingers and the use of subdued colours.The verdant greenery of the Kota-Bundi region is reflected in the paintings of that region. The rulers of Amer-Jaipur were the closest to the Mughals and a strong Mughal influence crept into their paintings.  
 
 
Pottery:
Rajasthan's terracotta tradition is dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization. Since then it continues in all parts of the state. A villege Molela near Udaipur is fame for its terracotta aticles. Clay is extensively used for making pots, dolls and other objects. These are painted with various type of images like folk divinities and are sold in village fairs during festive times such as Gangaur, Teej and Diwali. Jaipur is the home of glazed blue-pottery. Vases, flower pots, bowls, water pots and other objects are produced in traditional geometrical and floral motifs, as well as hand-painted details of Rajasthani legends.  
 
 
Puppets:
Puppet is an ancient and popular form of folk entertainment. No village fair, no religious festival and no social gathering in Rajasthan can be complete without the kathputlis (puppets). With their sparkling eyes and brightly coloured dresses, the kathputlis , gives unforgettable experience.  
 
 
Sandal Wood And Wood Work:
Carved wooden chests and boxes with brass inlay and lacquer work, together with sandalwood statues and objects, are the some of the most popular hand crafted items. There is also a wide range of grand furniture, reminiscent of the royal era. Tilonia (near Ajmer) furniture also stands out for its fine embroidery work done on leather. As also carved furniture from Barmer region.
 
 
Stone Craft : Rajasthan produces the country's finest marble, sandstone, quartz and slate.
The extraordinary craftsman ship of Rajasthani stone workers is visible in the numerous temples, palaces and havelies. For the connoisseur, there are life-like and life-size statues, the intricately carved pillars and jalis (latticed grilles). The finest examples of jali work can be seen in the various havelis (mansions) of Jaisalmer. Precisely carved statues, busts, pillars, furniture items and other objects in white marble stone in Makrana are unforgot tenable.

 
 
Textile:
Rajasthani textiles come in a fascinating range of dyed and block-printed fabric which are further embroidered. Each region has its own special colour scheme, design and technique. Hand-block printed textiles of the townships of Sanganer and Bagru near Jaipur have won the hearts of millions at home and abroad. Jaipur's quilts are a hot favourite with most tourists. Tie-and-dye textiles, called bandhej or bandhani are an important Rajasthani craft. Different methods are used to tie the fabric into small points and produce various patterns like lehariya, mothda, ekdali and shikari. The best bandhej comes from Sikar and Jodhpur, while Jaipur, Barmer, Pali, Udaipur and Nathdwara are the other centres.Zari and gota are lavishly used in bridal and formal costumes. One can pick up saris or even cushion covers with this elaborate mettalic thread embroidery.
 
 
 
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