West Bengal is known all across the world for its expertise in arts and crafts. The small villages in this beautiful East Indian state are home to innumerable talented artisans who specialize in various forms of exotic handicrafts.
One of such exclusive ancient crafts that stood the adversities of time is the famous terracotta craft. Popularized during the reign of Malla rulers around the 16th century, it involved the traditional potters called the ‘Kumbhakars’. Till date, the temples of Bishnupur and Kalna stand as a testimony to this exotic Bengali art. Today, one can see these talented craftsmen involved in production of several stunning pieces of household decorative and jewellery artefacts besides the traditional ritualistic objects.
Another prominent craft which makes for an inherent part of West Bengal is the Conch Shell Craft. One of the most exclusive and sophisticated forms of art practices, it involves engraving intricate patterns and motifs on the fresh marine shells obtained from the ocean bed. There are also brilliant artisans who recreate scenes from mythological epics like Ramayana and Manahbharata.
Yet another interesting and popular art of West Bengal which captivates the art lovers with its sheer rustic charm, is the Dokra Metal Craft. The 5000 years old craft involves making statues, human figurines and idols of gods and goddesses, apart from various decorative items and jewellery pieces like anklets, bangles and tinkling bells, from molten metal. The tribal art form is practiced by the traditional metalsmiths of Bengal, who still use the age-old technique of wax casting known as ‘cire perdue’ in French.
When it comes to the arts and crafts of West Bengal, Sholapith Craft also deserves a special mention. Also called the Indian Cork, Sholapith is a milky-white sponge like wood indigenous to the marshy lands of Odisha and Bengal. The unique wood finds an extensive use in crafting traditional Bengali bridal head-wears, garlands and several household decorative artefacts. It’s also used in idols of gods & goddesses, palanquins and massive panels used in decoration of puja pandals. West Bengal is a state that has carved its own niche in the field of paintings and scroll art too.
These unique style of paintings are done on thick fabrics and involve the use of natural colours extracted from vegetables, flowers, petals and leaves. You would find interesting portrayals from folk tales, religious texts and mythological scenes to current social issues and political happenings. Arts and Crafts of West Bengal are incomplete without a mention of its exclusive embroidery works. Of the several stitches famous, the “Kantha Embroidery” holds a special place and involves the art of running stitch using colourful threads on bed linens, cushion covers, quilts, sarees and other ethnic wear. Floral motifs, images of birds, animals, folk scenes and various geometric patterns are prototypical of this exquisite and ethnic Bengali embroidery art, which has truly made its mark on the global fashion platform.
Hand-made leather crafts of Shantiniketan, embellished with geometric, floral and ornamental patterns, is another alluring art of West Bengal. The craft renders a number of beautiful artefacts including handbags, wallets, shoes, belts, jackets and gloves.
Besides, the beautiful Bamboo Craft, Art of Doll and Puppet Making, Wooden Art, Mukhosh or Art of Mask Making and Jute Craft, are some of the other indigenous and exceptional crafts of Bengal that have helped keep the state’s age-old traditions and cultural heritage alive till date.
This West Bengal travel guide contains every kind of information you need for an enjoyable holiday. Inside it, you will find various kind of travel related information like the best time to visit, popular tourist attractions, things to do, best accommodation facilities and why you should visit it. It also contains additional information on the places which are a must visit during your vacation.