Uttar Pradesh is also known as “UP”. And for the people who love “UP”, it is a state of culture, handicrafts, beautiful monuments and forts, colorful festivals and so much more. It has a bunch of places where you can travel and see the magical beauty of this state. Places like Agra where Taj Mahal is the main attraction of the city, Banaras where traditions are to be seen the whole year round , Lucknow where handicrafts are the most known are the highlights of this state.
Apart from these beautiful places, it is well known for its handicrafts and artisans. Some of the most popular cities in terms of handicrafts are:
Banaras is a famous city known for its culture, banarasi sarees, silk, and wooden toys.
Also known as “devokinagri”, it has a played a huge part for its artisans. Over 3 lakh workers are working for the banarasi silk handloom industry. The handloom working process can take upto 5 hours and the dyeing and drying process can take upto 1 to 3 days for 24 metres. It takes 16 hours for a weaver to spin 24 metres with the help of their hands. This art requires a lot of work but is not enough money occurring which has lead the workers to the point of shifting their occupations and moving to other places like Gujarat, Ahmedabad for better money. Another reason apart from the money is that powerloom has given a tough time to these handloom workers and because of this 75 percent of the workers have shifted to powerloom because it is much more easy to work there. Because of this there are few workers left who are working hard to provide hand woven clothes and slowly these clothes will also lose their authenticity because of the synthetic silk and electric loom used as replacement for it.
Apart from this Banaras is also known for its wooden toys.
The process of making the wooden toys is again much more hard working than the money they get in return. Big wooden stems are cut into small pieces to make these toys and hours of shaping and designing the wood is the beginning of the process. Special types of woods are used to make different types of toys such as dolls, and their deities whom they worship etc. But again plastic toys are a big competition for these workers and so slowly these workers were becoming hard to find. But the government is making efforts for these workers and they are getting reach again which is a good news.
And how can we forget about the Meenakari art?
The meenkari art is a famous form of art of decorating metal surfaces with colorful stones and colors. It is also known as enameling. It was introduced in the 17th century by Mughals and was learnt from Persian craftsman who visited them, and at that time it was specifically done on gold to make beautiful jewellery and much more . The artisans who do this art are known as meenakars. Nowadays meenakari is also done on copper, silver etc. This art is not limited to jewellery only but is also done on key chains, bowls etc. In banaras it is famous for banarasgulabimeenakari as pink strokes are done on white enamel. Mostly it is done on silver because of the cheap price and good surface.
Lucknow also known as the city of nawabs, is a popular city for handicrafts like chikankari , zardozi.
Chikankari is a very famous art in the form of embroidery done on white cotton material by white cotton thread which is also known as shadow work. Chikankari was introduced 200 years ago and is inspired by Mughal architecture. Earlier it was done on fine muslin cotton but due to non availability of muslin cotton it is now done on cotton, wool, chiffon and silk clothes with colorful threads used on it. The artisans of it usually belong to the Muslim community and over 5000 families are involved in this work. 90 percent work is done by women and the rest like dyeing and drying is done by men. It has also other centres like Delhi, Mumbai. You can go get one as it is very comfortable to wear in summers.
Zardozi is also famous form of art practiced. In the ancient times silk threads were dipped in gold and silver to make designs on satin and velvet fabrics. Mughals introduced it and it was mostly seen on the clothes made for elephantsand wall hangings. The processincludes designing on tracing sheet and holes are made along the traces using needle. Then the cloth is dipped into kerosene solution and then the same cloth is set on a wooden frame to create tension and then they sit around for hours to do the work. A needle fixed to a wooden stick is used for the process. Almost every Indian wears this work mostly found in ethnic Clothes like lehenga , sarees etc.
Kanpur is a city which is called as hub of saddlery.
Saddlery is made of leather and isused especially in horse races. Kanpur has emerged as major outsourcing industry for saddlery as countries like US , Germany are outsourcing from Kanpur for these. There is a history behind this success as 100 years ago British officers taught the locals to make saddles. The reason for outsourcing was because the prices were rising in the west which forced them to do so. After thatthere was no coming back. So if you want to go for a cheap but good quality saddlery, visit Kanpur for sure.
Farrukhabad is known for its prints.
It was originated 1000 years ago and has quite a complex process. It is done on silk and cotton as design is firstly carved in the wooden block and then stamped onto the cloth . The most popular pattern is “tree of life”.Mainly two types of printing is done , one is screen printing and other is block printing. Earlier potatoes were used to print and natural dyes were used but now synthetic dyes are also used. Scarves, stoles, sarees, shawls, etc. are the products. So if you are obsessed with prints come to Farrukhabad.
The city is famous for its bangles and glassware.
Every other family is engaged in making bangles there. Families there has spent generations working around furnaces , welding glass . The bangles are so colorful and amusing but the story of the people who work day and night for the minimum wage is quite depressing. Boys and girls with their fathers and mothers sit in dark rooms where minimal amount of light is there . They start welding the glasses to make bangles and often end up loosing eyesight before they become adults. There is a lot of hardwork hidden behind those colorful bangles . These workers live in poverty for their whole life . So next time when you visit Firozabad make sure to visit the factories to see the hardwork and sacrifice they do to fulfill their needs.
Other cities :
Cities like Banaras,Mirzapur, Bhadohiare well known for their hand made carpets whereas kannaujis known for its perfume, Agra known for its durrie and Moradabad and Saharanpur for its metal craft and wood craft simultaneously. Make sure you visit these places next time you visit Uttar Pradesh.