A pair of Bankura Horses is certainly worth buying whenever you are in Kolkata. This traditional art form finds its roots in the Bankura District of West Bengal and is a wonderful specimen of Bengal craftsmanship in terracotta. These clay masterpieces have erect necks and pointed ears that make them look quite dramatic.
Another must acquire souvenir, when in Kolkata, is its brass and bell metal work pieces. This is a traditional handicraft of the region of West Bengal handed down from one generation to another. Small brass decorative trinkets are also quite famous. Pai, in which engraved brass work is done on the wooden bowls, is a must buy product of the region.
People of Bengal have an emotional connect with conch shell usage of which is associated with newly-wed women to religious ceremonies and rituals. The craft practiced here for centuries, involves engraving beautiful images on the shell obtained from the ocean bed. Conch shell bangles have traditionally adorned the married Bengali women.
This is the indigenous metallurgy art of the Dhokra Kamar tribes of West Bengal. The products produced through this technique have a charming rustic look that has made them very popular in India as well as abroad. Craftsmen usually make figurines of deities, sacred animals as well as birds. Jewelry pieces, like necklaces and bracelets made by Dokra are also exquisite.
Jute is known as the ‘golden fibre’, and is one of the longest and most used natural fibers for various textiles applications. Jute is 100% biodegradable and recyclable natural fibre. Thousands of farmers in the state cultivate jute for their livelihood. Rural women take part at all levels of the jute value chain, as farm labourers, cottage industry workers, and as entrepreneur’s hand making jute products.
These are a type of ethnic painting, drawn on paper by artists called patuas, who are settled near the well-known Kali Temple at Kalighat, in Kolkata. Many unique specimens of this art form have found place in various European museums. Most of the paintings are based on mythological tales or on epic characters. The multicolour vibrancy of these paintings makes them very pleasing.
Kantha is one of the oldest forms of embroidery that has kept the women of Bengal busy. Kantha embroidery is generally done on cotton and silk fabrics. A regular in dhotis and saris, Kantha embroidery is running stitches used for making floral motifs, images of birds, animals, and geometrical figures. It is also used for making blankets and quilts by stitching five or six layers of cloth together.
Kolkata displays the finest of art of West Bengal and striking masks are one such art of the region. Papier Mache masks depict mythological creatures, right from deities to demons. They are made from paper dipped in clay and pasted over a clay model. Once the mask is dry, it is removed from the clay model and painted in various vibrant shades. These masks are used in folk festivals and as home decor items as well. They are generally made in the Purulia district.
Shola pith or the Indian cork is a milky-white sponge-wood which is carved into delicate and beautiful objects of art. Artisans use it to make artefacts used for decoration, especially the traditional ornate headgear of bridegroom in Bengal. The finest of this craftsmanship can be seen on the statues of gods and goddesses during festivals, especially the massive decorative backdrop used for the Durga Puja.
This, indeed is one of the most ancient forms of Bengali art. Earlier, terracotta tiles were only used for festooning religious sites, like temples, however, today one can get intricately carved terracotta pieces adorned with magnificent motifs in the form of various products of home decor, such as trays, pen holders, flower pots and tiles etc.
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