The Fabric of India

Crafts that make a nation

By Google Arts & Culture

From intricate silver work in the east to colorful textile art in the west, the many stories of Indian craft are woven into the country’s heritage...

…and the skills behind these crafts have been passed down from generation to generation.

Among all the nomadic tribes of India, the Lambanis are known to have the most elaborate outfits, thanks to their vibrant embroidery.

Indian crafts map

This hand-stitched craft of Lambani embroidery is often taught to young Lambani girls by their mothers.

Lambani Embroidery: Embroidery as a commmunity practice (2018)Dastkari Haat Samiti

In the Angami Naga tribe, the tradition of creating cane and bamboo basketry was also passed down through generations and traditionally, every Naga man was a bamboo craftsman.

Indian crafts map

This basketry craft was never made for the market and instead, became an intrinsic part of everyday life. 

Angami Basket: Basket as backpack (2018-03)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Many crafts are built into the everyday life of Indian people.

Indian crafts map

Traditional woven beds, known as charpoys, can be found in homes all across India and the design has been interpreted in different ways by craftspeople over the years.

Charpai Making in Haryana: Master craftsmen at work (2019)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The home also plays an important part in the creation of Indian crafts.

Indian crafts map

The textile-based art of Mata Ni Pachedi, first created by the Vagharis nomads 300 years ago, is often made in the home of the artist... 

Mata ni Pachedi: Mata ni Pachedi artist Jagdish Chitara at work (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

...then washed in the local river…

Mata ni Pachedi: Washing off excess dye (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

...and left to dry nearby.

Mata ni Pachedi: Drying the cloth (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

In the state of Assam, local silks are also traditionally spun and woven in the home.

Indian crafts map

Many of these traditions have the women of the house to thank, as they are the ones who often made these beautiful textiles in their homes.

Sualkuchi Weaving: Silk weaving of Assam (2018-03)Dastkari Haat Samiti

What makes all of these crafts so special are the communities that create them.

Following in the footsteps of their ancestors and learning their skills, crafts such as Bagh printing have been kept alive.

Indian crafts map

Bagh printing is a specialized method of wooden hand-block printing, originally practiced across the Indus Valley many centuries ago.

Bagh Weaving and Printing: Block designs (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The intricate craft of silver filigree metalwork has also been around for centuries and is believed to have been introduced by the Mughals when they established their rule in India in the 16th century CE.

Indian crafts map

This craft requires skilled handwork and the elaborate designs have been passed down from the Mughal Empire.

Silver Filigree: Shining the silver (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

From the home to the workshop, the skills and techniques behind these crafts have evolved with generations.

These crafts were not only made in India but they are an integral part of India’s handmade heritage.

Indian crafts map

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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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