Indian handicrafts are one of the most underrated traditional arts that can showcase the heritage and culture of the country. The artisan family carries their legacy through various generations. The carved art in a form indicates the soul of their land, myths, and culture.
Since industrialization has increased, Indian handicraft culture is forced to the verge of extinction. The machine-made products serve a high competition in price and also their availability. The handicrafts industry’s major prospect is, that it depends on the season for production and sales. This dependency has a major drawback for the industry itself.
Indian handicrafts contribute a rich heritage to society. The knowledge is shared through generations among the family. So the Indian government has also taken steps to aid the dying art. From providing a platform to showcase their art to expanding the art into the international market, we are slowly gaining popularity. Also, the national and international markets had recognized artisans for their value in traditional artforms.
We Indians are known for our cultural and traditional arts and habits. Food, clothes, buildings, stone sculpturing, music, pottery, jewelry making, diamond crafting, and so many more to name. Every state in India has a list of arts to explore and to show the world.
Handicrafts from Odisha State
I come from Odisha, the land of Lord Jagannath. Its rich heritage and culture have seen its glory shared among other nations. It is serene for those who want to live a life of simplicity. Odisha is also famous for its dialects, dance, history, and architecture, making it the sprightly state of India.
In this article, I want to share about an ancient craft. It is very famous in Paralakhemundi, a small town in Odisha state. Paralakhemundi’s oldest craft is hornwork. Its princely rulers had a penchant for promoting and sponsoring artists. Maharanas are the craftspeople who create this art. Under the patronage of the Maharaja of Gajapati, Krishna Chandra Deb, these artisans have relocated from Pitala to the Ganjam district. Artworks like figurines, birds, animals, and scenes from Indian ithihas’ are among the hornwork objects.
Hornwork is a rare and ancient handcraft that only a few tribes keep practicing to date. In the modern era, this is a rare and to be extinct art. But still, its grandeur is well-spoken and remembered. The raw material, i.e., cattle horns, is provided by the neighboring Zamindars. And it gets its life from the artisans who make horses, elephants, combs, Lord Jagannath idols, birds of different sizes, and many more things.
Hub of Horn craft
The Palace Street of Paralakhemundi serves as the hub of these artisans. They have a cooperative society to take care of the raw materials, exports, and craft sales. After finishing the crafted artwork reaches the market and other museums from there.
In the words of a famous horn craft artist in Paralakhemundi, there is a high demand for these crafts; due to a lack of raw materials i.e., horns of buffalo generally, which comes from Hyderabad is diminishing day-to-day. Also, finding sufficient labor for these kinds of art is difficult in the present generation.
Mr. Praffula Maharana is an experienced horn craft artist showcasing his works.
Other handicrafts in Paralakhemundi
Paralakhemundi is also known for its ivory-working. The ivory craftsmen designed thrones and cots, and they were masterpieces of artwork when elephants were abundantly surrounding the forest region in the town.
Ivory-work was another well-known skill in the past. This availability of ivory provided the town with great ivory art workers during the British period.
The most famous ivory craftsmen were Sri. Radha Krushna Maharana and his sons, Sri. Purnachandra Maharana, Sri Surendra Maharana, and Sri Bhaskara Maharana.
In addition, Paralakhemundi is famous for Jaikhadi bag, cane work, and bamboo work. Sculptures made of clay, stone sculptures, and water paintings are abundantly available on the Chitrakar Sahi (Artist’s Street). And it’s a feast for the eyes of art lovers. The paint, the colors, and the clay in the hands of the chitrakars/painters are just magic to the eyes. The painted works in the current generation of handicrafts include Idol Sculptures, Wall Paintings, Fabric Paintings, Painted Playing Cards, Paper Masks, Embossed Paper Idols, and Souvenirs.
Also, learn about other Handicrafts of Odisha
The ancient culture needs more support from the people, the lack of which, is one cause of its depletion. Indian culture has everything that needs to be learned and followed. In the modern days, even the coming generation should know the values and importance of our richness and heritage. Ironically, foreign nations are showing interest and spending time to learn about our culture but being Indians, we aren’t fully aware of how great our ancestors were.
Supporting neglected art is not only providing a source of living for a person and their family but also keeping the soul of our land alive in the form of art. Due to a lack of buyers and a proper market, there is an acute decline in exports of these handicrafts. This results in a decrease in the number of artists and the later generations might forget about the antique art that was once in their family lineage.
Due to various reasons, the handicrafts industry is already on a verge of extinction. The unavailability of good quality raw materials at an affordable price is one of the major drawbacks for the industry to grow. And the production which directly or indirectly depends on the seasons also contributes some part to the decline in buyers’ number.
Art and handicrafts may not directly contribute to the GDP of this country, but India was built on its own richness and heritage. India is known for its culture, and the proof is the art where culture is shown and taught. Dance, music, handicrafts, temples, architecture, sculptures, poetry, language, and other gifts from our ancestors are the proofs that we can proudly show to the world that we had the hands of God while building an apex county.