A Crafts Trail In Madhya Pradesh

Here's a look at Madhya Pradesh's wonderful arts and crafts legacy so you know what to look for when you visit the state the next time
A woman weaver prepares threads for a Maheshwari saree on a loom
A woman weaver prepares threads for a Maheshwari saree on a loomPradeep Gaurs / Shutterstock

Madhya Pradesh and handicrafts go hand in hand. You'll be spoiled for choice because the selections here range from exquisite handwoven fabrics to beautiful hand-block designs and centuries-old folk art. Here's a peek at Madhya Pradesh's incredible arts and crafts tradition so you know what to look for the next time you visit the state.

Chanderi Saris And Fabrics

Chanderi is a delicate, shimmering fabric with an exquisite brocade woven from silk and cotton. Master weavers continue using handlooms to weave the fabric according to ancient tradition. The most popular handwoven items from this town are the Chanderi saris which are woven in soft, pleasant colours and have a rich gold border. The delicateness of the weaving and the proportion of silk to cotton determine the sari's value. Among the traditional motifs used are peacocks and lotuses. It is reported that the only colour utilised when this unparalleled fabric was first woven was an extract from the highly prized saffron herb. Even while Chanderi saris are the most popular things sold today, you can also get men's jackets, salwar kameez, and scarves fashioned from the fabric.

Bagh Prints

The village of Bagh in the district of Dhar is the source of this vivid, vibrant hand-block printing. It is a type of wooden hand-block printing that was originally practiced throughout the Indus Valley. The skill of block printing with organic colours is an invaluable part of Madhya Pradesh's history and culture. The laborious method entails treating the cloth in sea salt and castor oil. The prints–geometrical, floral motifs–are created entirely by hand, as are the wood blocks used for printing. Some of the wooden blocks used by craftspeople date back two and three hundred years. The traditional designs were inspired by the old Bagh Cave paintings, nature, and the Taj Mahal's jali (lattice) work.

Gond Art

For centuries, the forest-dwelling Gond tribe's lifestyle has been intricately interwoven with the environment. Their work reflects their natural affinity for flora and animal activity. The paintings depict mahua trees, tigers, barasinghas, chital, and birds. The landscape of Madhya Pradesh and the community's relationships with the jungle residents are frequent themes. The work of famous Gond artists like Durga Bai and Bhajju Shyam is now recognised worldwide. While Gond art has been around for generations, adorning the walls of their village homes, it has evolved away from home walls and onto paper and canvas over the years.

Maheshwari Weaves

Queen Ahilyabai Holkar rebuilt Maheshwar, an ancient temple town on the Narmada River's banks, in the 18th century. She imported weavers from South India and nurtured the region's rich handloom weaving traditions, which date back to the fifth century. When royal financing disappeared following Indian independence, however, this creative form stalled once more. Until Richard Holkar and his wife Sally Holkar founded the Rehwa Society in 1979 to resurrect it. You can visit Rehwa to observe local weavers create works of art from silk, cotton, or a combination. Maheshwari saris are subtle and graceful, exuding charm and sophistication. Silk thread is used in the warp (tana), and cotton thread is used in the weft (bana), giving the fabric a wonderful, silken sheen. Maheshwari weaves are now used to make kurtas, shirts, stoles, vests, jackets, dupattas, furniture, and saris.

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