2018

Woodcrafts of Nagina

Dastkari Haat Samiti

A blend of excellence and innovation

Mughal wood carving, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Nagina’s wood work is famous at the local, national and global levels. One of the reasons for Nagina to emerge as the wood craft centre of India is the easy availability of different varieties of wood around the town of Nagina. 
Wood workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Woodcraft started with the need to provide society with items of daily need; but people who work with their hands, usually like to decorate or embellish what they are fashioning with a touch of creativity. 
Wood Carving, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Craftsmen use different kinds of wood depending on the availability and cost, and in special cases the requirement of the design. The most commonly used types of wood are aabnooz (ebony), sheesham (Indian Rosewood), haldu (Yellow Teak), Loquat and sal wood. 
Wood Carving, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Sheesham is one of the most inexpensive timbers available. Carved combs, pen stands, hair bun sticks and key chains are mainly made of sheesham.

Another reason why sheehsam is preferred is its relative softness which makes it easier for an artist to carve.

Abnooz is one of the hardest and costlier of woods. An interesting feature about abnoooz is its black colour as it contains a fairly high content of iron, which also makes it very hard.

Wood Carving: Filing a box with bone inlay work, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Besides woodcarving, Nagina is also famous for metal inlay work. In earlier times Nagina’s craftsmen use to carve decorative design on the metal section of guns. This practice ended with the advent of new laws and industrial production, making the weapon out of reach for most. With the change in demand they shifted to carving on ebony wood. Today with the intervention of Indian design schools in the crafts sector, there is an exchange of ideas and skills, which has led to the creation of many contemporary products like toys, games and lifestyle accessories.
Mughal wood carving, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Signature wood works of Nagina
The product range of Nagina wood crafts range from both humble routine items like the charpoy, a rope bed with wooden legs, to highly embellished items like large screens, lamps and jewellery boxes. 
Wood Carving, Asha Ram's workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Nagina is famous for its beautifully carved combs with intricate symmetrical patterns.

Wood Carving, Asha Ram's Workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Wooden combs with fine carving and varied designs come from multiple cultural and environmental influences.

Wood Carving, Asha Ram's workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A pair of carved combs called Raja and Rani kangi, king’s and queen’s combs, are hallmarks of Nagina’s identity. Elaborate designing is a striking feature.

Wood Carving, Asha Ram's workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A comb with teeth on either side is called Rani kangi.

Wood Carving, Asha Ram's workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A comb with teeth on one side is called Raja kangi.

Wood Carving: House of a master craftsman, Asha Ram's Workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Baldevi uses a rani kangi to dress her hair, making her feel no less than royalty.

Wood Carving, Omwati, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Smoothly carved wooden sticks are designed to keep a coil of hair in place and play the role of a simple yet elegant fashion accessory.

Mughal wood carving, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A collection of handcrafted wooden hair accessories made by women in Nagina.

Wood Carving, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A jewellery box with fine jaali work, made using a combination of two kinds of wood.

Wood workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A ship’s wheel made in a small town of Nagina, shows how a simple part of machine is also created so artfully that the object eventually becomes an art in itself.

Wood Carving, Asha Ram's Workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Craft Innovation
Modern designs made with old traditional techniques is the recent cultural addition which helps an artist in both, keeping the craft alive and in business.
Brass inlay, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Wooden coasters are some of the contemporary designs styled for urban homes as they are seldom needed by their rural customers. Indian crafts people have learnt to produce for different cultural contexts.

Wood workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Mohammed Uvesh sits outside his workshop holding a uniquely designed wooden bowl.

Wood workshop, Mohammed Uvesh, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The maker explained that it was originally meant to hold a ball of wool in place while a woman knitted. The elegance of its design has made it a popular export product.

Wood Carving, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

This beautiful wooden frame is a combination of a miniature painting of Rajasthan and the intricate lattice work of Nagina.

Wood Carving, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

This beautiful wooden frame is a combination of a miniature painting of Rajasthan and the intricate lattice work of Nagina.

Wood Carving: At the village, Asha Ram's workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A wooden ludo game is made of different coloured pieces of Indian rose wood, demonstrating the advantages of the tonal qualities of wood which the crafts person has used innovatively.

Wood Carving, Asha Ram's Workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A fifteen inches long convertible wooden cube shows that modern designs and versatility are now making such goods more appealing to the urban customers.

Wood Carving, Asha Ram's Workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Indian design institutes like National Institute of Fashion Technology send their young minds to work with artist to learn the tradition and authenticity of the craft, while help the artist in creating more contemporary designs.

Wood carving, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Read more about Nagina's woodcrafts industry here:

- Nagina woodcarvers
- High quality products
- Portrait of a master craftsman

Dastkari Haat Samiti
Credits: Story

Text: Rashmi Sacher
Photography: Subinoy Das
Artisans: Mohammed Matloob and his team of apprentices, Yog Raj and his team of wood carvers
Ground Facilitator: Rashmi Sacher
Documentary Video: Subinoy Das
Curation: Ruchira Verma

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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