Here’s how artisans from some uncharted art and craft villages in India are doing their bit in catching global recognition for their handcrafted legacies.
Art, most certainly, can be found anywhere and everywhere. It doesn’t limit itself to a canvas or care about getting aged. Probably that’s the reason why settlements, no matter how small or from which part of the world, have always tried to keep artforms from dying. Many little, lesser-known art and craft villages in India are striving hard to keep the centuries-old heritage artforms alive in this forever changing world. Here’s a closer look at a few of such villages and their treasured offerings.
6 art and craft villages in India and their legacies
Terracotta pottery in Bishnupur, West Bengal
Bishnupur isn’t new to the ones who have a keen eye for Indian handcrafted traditions. The unassuming little village in West Bengal is known for not one but two heritage crafts — terracotta (baked ceramic pottery) as well as the handwoven silk Baluchari sari. Back in the day, a lack of stones had led to the growth of terracotta craft in the region, which later became the reason of Bishnupur gaining popularity. A number of terracotta temples dot the entirety of the village, while Bankura (terracotta) horses and Baluchari saris created after long and meticulous labour by the artisans, reflect why it deserves the spotlight it is finally receiving.
Ikat print in Pochampally, Telengana
Pochampally, a 50-km drive from Hyderabad in Telangana, is soon to be named as one of the best tourism villages by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Reason? Its exceptional ikat (known as tie-and-dye) weaves and textures. Home to some of the country’s most ancient handloom centres, Pochampally is thronged by local and international tourists alike to see the weavers at work on their handlooms, creating fabric with complex geometric designs and myriad colours.
Pattachitra in Raghurajpur, Odisha
The little artist village of Raghurajpur is the keeper of an assemblage of heritage artworks including stone-engraving, wood-carving, mask-making, and of course, Pattachitra (aka Tussar painting) done on cloth, palm leaf, and pieces of paper. Some 120-odd homes arranged in neat rows double up as art studios, where vibrant murals, scrolls, trinkets, and hand-painted décor items take your breath away the moment you step in. The unique Pattachitra artform of Raghurajpur has been passed on from one generation to the next in the families here!
Lacquered wooden toys in Channapatna, Karnataka
Karnataka’s Channapatna is said to have gotten its iconic craft from Persia some 200 years ago, when Tipu Sultan, the then ruler of the region, got impressed with a lacquered-wood toy gifted to him. Home to over 5,000 artisans, the toy town gained global recognition for the first time when the Channapatna toys received the reputed GI tag in 2006. Today, these shiny, bright-coloured toys can be found across many parts of the world with some even adorning the shelves of The White House!
Ornate tables in Choglamsar, Ladakh
Next time you visit Ladakh, excuse yourself from gaping at the mammoth mountains and vast deserted moonscapes, to make some time for visiting Choglamsar. The quaint trans-Himalayan village is home to skilled carvers who meticulously create choktses — ornate wooden tables handcrafted to perfection in Ladakhi style. Deeply ingrained with the centuries-old nomadic lifestyle, these low foldable tables finely embossed with designs ranging from snow lions, dragons, to conch shells and lotus motifs, are an inseparable part of the households and monasteries here.
Blackstone pottery in Longpi, Manipur
Sharing the namesake of the village in Manipur its potters hail from, the Longpi Ham or the Blackstone craft is different from any other type of pottery found across India. Over 200 potters from Thankul Naga tribe in the Longpi village use a mixture of black serpentine stone and weathered rock, and shape the clay using their bare hands and different moulds. No potter’s wheel is used in the process! After getting baked on fire, these earthenware are polished with local pasania pachyphylla leaves, which are said to have medicinal properties.