India’s vast repertoire of hand crafted décor and design finds its origins in folklore, mythology, epics and native customs, and every region’s arts and crafts are an intrinsic reflection of our ethnic diversity and fascinating culture. “While Warli art can be used as a canvas painting or directly painted in a wall to create an interesting visual, wooden inlay work can be used in many ways like tables, chest of drawers, wardrobes etc. Metal craft like Bidri and Dhokra can be introduced through artefacts to dress up any space” says Minnie Bhatt, Founder and Design Director, Minnie Bhatt Design.
For the month where we celebrate everything that is Indian, we at Beautifulhomes.com decided to tour the country through its design along with shoppable links (since travel as a reality doesn’t exist at the moment) for you. Explore the world of regional Indian design whatever may be your décor style. “For minimalistic décor lovers black and white is the way to go. I have seen a lot of monochrome Gond and Warli, and have added chalkboards to Saharanpur frames to make them more contemporary,” says Sharon D’Souza, blogger and product designer who is an ardent supporter of all things traditional and handmade.
Given the pandemic and it repercussions on small businesses there is no better time for you to support local artisans and be vocal in your effort to buy indigenous products. “Handicrafts stand in our homes as a testimony to time, emotions, memories, creativity and of our ability to preserve something that we deem precious” says Meena Murthy Kakkar, Design Head and Partner, Envisage. Below is a quick region wise guide on some native Indian arts and crafts for you to explore:
Cheriyal Masks And Paintings, Telangana
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have a rich heritage of handicrafts and handlooms including Kondapalli toys and Kalamkari fabrics. My personal favourite from this region are the colourful scroll paintings and masks from the village of Cheriyal, about 100 km from Hyderabad. Inspired by folklore and ballads, the paintings depict scenes from mythology usually in colours like blue, green, yellow, black and white. The background is a bright red and when framed these Nakashi paintings make a compelling décor statement in the entryway, living room or even the bedroom. In case you are not sure about going in for something as big as a painting, opt for the vibrant Cheriyal masks that make for some captivating wall décor. Made from materials like tamarind seed paste and saw dust, these masks are eco-friendly too.
Pochampally Handloom Fabrics, Telengana
Fabrics from Pochampally are characterised by their unique geometrical patterns that are woven in bright shades. Perfect for cushion covers, table runners and even curtains. Handloom weaves in cool pastel hues are great for that minimal style.
Channapatna Toys And Kinnal Dolls, Karnataka
The toy town of Channapatna, about 60 km from Bangalore is a haven for handicraft lovers. The craft today is effectively used to make several statement home décor pieces like coasters, stationery holders, kitchen towel holders etc made from lacquered wood. Replete with motifs like elephants, owls and fish, these objects add an element of playfulness and pop of colour to any space.
Kinnal Dolls: This is a dying art form from the North of Karnataka and is a traditional wood craft used to make religious idols, decorative stools, cradles etc. Hand painted, these dolls are captivating to say the least and can be a conversation starter.
Bidri Work, Karnataka
An intricate metal craft from Bidar, Bidriware is made using an alloy of copper and zinc inlaid with thin sheets of pure silver. It was an erstwhile symbol of royalty and wealth. Trays, bowls and other artefacts made using this craft are perfect if you are a fan of understated elegance.
Treasures Of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
When in the land of culturally rich Tamil Nadu, do not miss out on the handcrafted bronzeware from Thanjavur and Swamimalai that is made from the exclusive lost wax process. The region is also famous for Thanjavur paintings that are known for their iconic compositions, inlay work and gold foil covering. “The colour palette of traditional Indian art is so vivid that it automatically brings out the beauty in the decor and creates a wonderful ambience,” says Vandana Sarawgi, CEO & Head of Design, SR Artefacts.
Gifts From God’s Own Country
While Kathakali masks and brassware including urlis and lamps from Kerala have a quintessential charm, hand woven fabrics from the state are equally appealing. If you are looking to dress your kitchen and dining space with some fine cotton tableware, kitchen napkins, aprons and towels, Kara Weaves is your place to go. Inspired by the indispensable “Thorthu” which is the ubiquitous towel in all Kerala households, Kara weaves has pioneered the creation of contemporary, chic home textiles that are elegant and classy. “All our products are handwoven on ancient wooden looms and we partner with local cooperatives in different parts of the state to supply us the fabric” says Indu Menon, co-founder, Kara Weaves. Exquisite textures that are highly absorbent and cool pastel shades makes these indigenous textiles a clear winner.
Warli Art, Maharashtra
An extremely popular tribal art form, Warli art has a rustic charm of its own. Using basic shapes like the square, circle and triangle, the paintings are centred around the forces of nature and depict village life. Perfect for garden, balcony and even exterior walls, it can also be used to accentuate planters, vases and other artefacts.
Rajasthan’s Myriad Offerings
Whether textiles, pottery, marble work or art, Rajasthan has a plethora of traditional crafts that can add colour and life to your home. The state has a rich legacy of block printing done on fabrics like cotton and khadi. These are ideal for upholsteries and furnishings and can lend a seamless Indian essence to your decor. Throw in some handmade blue pottery artefacts from Jaipur and you have the perfect look. “A very popular architectural marvel of Rajasthan is the wooden jharokhas that can lend a stunning make-over to any mundane wall,” says Hemil Parikh, Founder and Principal Designer, Elysium Abodes LLP.
If you are a fan of Indian art then look no further than the Pichwai paintings of Nathdwara, which is a traditional style of painting typically done on cloth with Lord Krishna and his tales being the central theme.
Gujarat’s Culturally Rich Heritage
Few embroidery styles are more attractive than the charismatic needle work of Kutch which is the signature artistic tradition of the region’s tribal community. Colourful threads, pieces of mirrors and glass interwoven in sixteen different types of stitches speaks volume of a copious artistic heritage. Kutch embroidered wall hangings, panels, “thorans”, cushion covers etc. are perfect to give your home a bohemian feel. To complement this look, add in copper bells handcrafted by the Luhars in Nirona or even Pithora paintings that depict folk art culture for that rustic charm.
Bihar’s Famous Madhubani Art
An art form that traces its origin to Mithila in Bihar, Madhubani is an art form that is refined, beautiful and extremely vibrant. The painting is characterised by geometrical patterned borders, intricate lines and depict festivals and rituals. An assortment of Madhubani frames in different sizes is a wonderful idea for that empty wall in your living room.
Madhya Pradesh’s Ode To Nature: Gond Art
The Gond tribe creates this famed art form often referred to as "on line work" on the walls of their homes which today is sought after worldwide. Using stories from legends and myths as inspiration, Gond art is characterised by neatly drawn lines, dashes and dots as well as the use of bright colours like yellow, red, white and blue.
West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand And Chhattisgarh: Dhokra
Dhokra is a metal craft with a history of over 5,000 years. The metal figurines are made using the lost wax casting process and the craftsmen use bronze and copper-based alloys in their creations. The human and animal statues that have a thin and delicate shape are characteristic of the art form. The craft is entirely done by hand which lends it an element of imperfection and also adds to its organic and rustic charm.
Odisha’s Play Of Patterns: Pattachitra, Pipli Applique Work And Papier Mache Crafts
Orrisa is a melting pot of crafts led by the scroll painting form - Pattachitra, an ancient art technique that depicts folktales and mythological tales. Likewise, the Pipli applique craft work originates in the small town of Pipli and includes bright hued canopies, banners and umbrellas all of which are made using applique work in shapes of animals, birds, flowers, Gods and more. Papier Mache is native to the villages of Keonjhar district and you can find lamp shades, wall hangings and other decorative pieces.
North East India: A Hub Of Crafts
The North Eastern states aka the seven sisters also have an incredible heritage of crafts with bamboo and cane weaving being arguably the most famous. They form great ideas for earthy chic and native décor whether in the form of baskets, mats, planters, lampshades and even furniture. Each tribe has its own unique weave and patterns that make these creations so special. Thangka Buddhist paintings from Sikkim are wonderful souvenirs to pick up from this region. If you are a lover of handlooms choose the Chizami Weaves and Saneki Weaves of Nagaland and Assam that have some great home decor products like furnishings and runners.