Chamba Rumal

Made on soft silk and muslin, Chamba rumal (handkerchief) is famous for its embroidery and size. These rumals draw inspiration from epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Some of the popular themes are Lord Krishna with gopis at the time of godhuli (the time of the day when Lord Krishna and his cowherd friends returned home) and images of Goddess Radha and Lord Krishna. These designs are similar to those used in Pahari paintings. Other famous designs are royal hunts, court scenes, depiction of dice game of chaupad and wedding processions. The rumals’ borders are a blend of geometrical and floral designs. These conventionally depict floral patterns along with geometrical settings -- squares and parallel lines. These borders are considered to be the frame in which a central picture is made. This art form received the patronage of the rulers of the kingdom of Chamba. The artists from the Mughal court, which dad considerably waekened by then, were offered patronage by Raja Umed Singh (1748-68), the ruler of Chamba and the patronage continued under Raj Singh (1764-94) and later Charat Singh (1794-1808).

Chamba Rumal

Chaugan

Chaugan, lying at the heart of Chamba, is the centre of all tourist activity. Set amidst lofty mountain peaks and lush green forests, this large and grassy meadow is the most vibrant and lively spot in the town. Chaugan plays host to all the major recreational activities and important ceremonies held in Chamba. It is surrounded by a bustling market, which is lined with small and big shops selling everything from local handicrafts, wood and metal artefacts, leather items to Chamba's famous embroidered handkerchiefs and chilli pickle. Every year, during the seven-day-long Minjar Mela, it becomes a cultural hub with a large number of visitors arriving to the promenade for shopping. Chaugan is also a popular picnic spot among locals during the summer season.

Chaugan

Needlecraft

A centuries-old craft, pine needle basket-weaving is done by coiling and braiding pine needles to make different products. Villages of Jadi Paani, Saur and Rani Chauri are famous for needlecraft. After the fall season, pine trees shed needles which locals collect. These are conventionally gathered from places where no one has walked to ensure they are unbroken. These are collected either by hand or a garden fork. They are then soaked overnight in water so that they become pliable and soft and it is easier to bend them when they are sewn or coiled. Depending on the product being made, the needles’ knob or fascicle on one end is left as it is or removed. Weaving, coiling and braiding are the three most common techniques used to make products like coasters, glass-holders, table mats, baskets and jewellery items. The needles are coloured dark brown and yellow using local plants like hinsar, jinjaroo, thermole and hingloda.

Needlecraft

Chamba Paintings

Situated in the Ravi Valley, Chamba is an important centre of Pahari paintings. Quite similar in appearance to Mughal paintings with strong influences of Deccan and Gujarati styles, Chamba paintings have long been dominated by the Basohli style, which later gave way to the Guler painting tradition. Though it is not confirmed when the technique of paintings was introduced in Chamba, locals claim it all started in the 17th century. Back then, there were probably no art workshops in Chamba but there were some artists who stayed as can be found from portraits of princes of that era. Perhaps some artists migrated to Chamba from Nurpur during the first half of the 17th century. It is also said that the naturalistic style of paintings having similarity with Mughal paintings of the period of Jehangir were introduced first at Nurpur and later at Chamba. These migrated artists or painters probably were not first-grade artists so over a period, it gradually gave way to a stylisation which was peculiar to the hills and there was a preference to more vivid colour tonalities. For example, the facial expressions got heavier in the beginning of the 18th century which later turned into a longish facial type which remained prevalent for a few decades. By the mid-18th century, the paintings from Chamba got their own distinctive style as can be seen in signed and date works of that period. Most common features of these paintings with generally a plain background include trees with triangular foliage and irregular trunk rows. The notable cities where the painting style flourished included Nurpur, Chamba, Kangra, Guler, Mandi, Garhwal, Mankot and Basohli.

Chamba Paintings

Norbulingka Institute

Located in the Himalayan heartland of Dharamsala, this unique institute is dedicated to the preservation of the artistic lineage of Tibetan culture and its traditional integrity. One notable fact about this institute is its approach to learning adaptability and sustainability so that the traditions are preserved and suited to modern times. Norbulingka is a diverse community of over 300, comprising masters and their apprentices, scholars and students, administrators, and hospitality staff. Norbulingka has an open-for-all policy that offers learning experiences through various workshops and courses that make the traditional Tibetan experience accessible to all.

 

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Norbulingka Institute

Andretta Artists' Village

Andretta Artists' Village

Shawl-weaving

Wool weaving is a popular craft practiced in almost every household of the state. Chamba is famous for its chequered pattern woollen shawls that are woven on handlooms. The shawls are known for their bright borders that carry traditional designs and Himachali patterns. The same woven designs can also be seen on the famous Chamba caps. The beautiful shawls of Chamba are known for their fine quality and attractive geometric designs. These intricate patterns are designed using coloured woollen threads, the colours ranging from blue and purples to saffron and greens. The main skill required in shawl-weaving is that the weaver should be able to apply even pressure to the loom so that the weave is uniform. It takes years of practice for an artist to master this traditional craft. While travelling to Chamba, tourists can shop for these shawls at various places like the Chaugan market and the Himachal Emporium.

Shawl-weaving