state of paradoxes
Rajasthan is renowned the world over for
its hand-printed textiles, jewellery,
painting, furniture, leatherwork, pottery and metal craft. The use of exuberant colours and ornate, designs are
some unique features of the artwork of the state. Extensive areas of
Rajasthan are monotone, beige –brown desert but the dramatic spectacle and
visual variety that pervade it make it one of the most vibrantly colourful of
Indian states. These paradoxes are seen again and again- a recurring motif
reflected in its decorative arts and crafts.
Though time and again, it has been ravaged
by invaders from all across the world, Rajasthan still houses the most opulent
and rich treasures. Its history is a long saga of blood feuds and violent
battles, but the forbidding stone battlements of its forts shield mirrored
rooms and marble carvings of delicacy and grace.
The high-balconies that sometimes were a
deterrent to the freedom of women were also marvels of exquisite ornamentation.
The jewelled belts and anklets that adorned them were not just ornaments but
also rich symbols of love and pride. Needless to say, as an intimate part of
everyday life, Rajasthani art and
culture has withstood the vicissitudes of industrialism and tourism. Rajasthan and its crafts are a source of
endless fascination-whether one approaches them for purely visual, aesthetic
pleasure or pauses to savour the underlying history, culture and symbolism.
and crafts through the centuries
all Rajasthani crafts however, have originated locally. Rajasthan was on the
ancient trade route, which exposed its people to different cultures and
traditions. Traces of these can be still seen in the various art forms. Sculptures that date back to 10th century
have been found along with cave
paintings, terracotta works in Baroli
and Hadoti regions are live
testimonials of Rajasthan’s allegory of love.
History reveals that kings and their
kinsmen were patrons of arts and crafts and they encouraged their craftsmen in
activities ranging from wood and marble carving to weaving, pottery and
The constant battles amongst the Rajputs
and other invaders were not only a time for change for the people but also art
and culture. When a kingdom fell and a new ruler took over, it was time for
change paintings depicting the new ruler’s victory, scenes from the battle and
processions of the victorious march were faithfully reproduced on the walls and
handmade paper. Rajputs, who
sacrificed wealth, power, territory and life itself, to withstand the Mughals were also impressed by their art
and aesthetics, taking styles, symbols and techniques, often stealing artisans
and incorporating them into their own eclectic, rich tradition.
Clothes-their colour, design and cut-may
tell people which village and caste someone comes from, but it is the jewellery
in which people’s wealth is invested. In most Rajasthani villages, it is
silver. Huge and heavy chunks of it are worn around ankles, waist, neck and
wrists, dangling in rings from ears, nose and hair, in chains of buttons down
the kurta or choli fronts. The beautiful, ornate designs of Adivasi jewellery
have now become fashionable among the urban elite and can be bought everywhere.
The aristocracy and the well-to-do did not wear silver. Kundan and enamel
jewellery inlaid with precious stones was a speciality of Rajasthan,
particularly of Jaipur. Rajasthan has
abundant deposits of semi precious and precious stones that are much in demand
Ivory: The ivory
bangles that most Rajasthani women wear are considered auspicious. Ivory is
also inlaid and shaped into intricate items of great beauty. Miniature
paintings were also painted on ivory.
Lac and Glass: Lac
bangles are made in bright colours and sometimes inlaid with glass. Other
decorative and functional items are also available.
Sandalwood and Wood: Carved wood is presented in a wide range of objects and is simple
Stone statues on religious themes can be
seen all over the state. In fact in some cities, there are still entire lanes
where the stone carvers can be seen giving final touches to statues or even
pillars. Other crafts like blue pottery, hand block printing, tie and dye,
terracotta sculptures, painting on camel hide, embroidery, cloth painting,
carpets, durries, inlay work on brass and wood are to be found all over