West Bengal is the land of the Ganga, and since the early 1800’s, Bengal has been the largest producer of jute worldwide. As a result, Bengal boasts of a repertoire of jute crafts.
An elegant range of home decor, furnishings and garments, hanging lamps, baskets, flower vases, purses, table mats and footwear made out of woven jute fibre are gaining popularity. It is also used for making baskets, mats and beautiful toys. Fabrics of jute are decorated with tie and dye, embroidery and block printing. The trend of eco-friendly substitutes is picking up and jute happens to be one of the more most versatile one. It is in high demand and it has been profitable for the farmers too. Items made from jute are gaining popularity because it is the cheapest known natural fibre and are 100% eco-friendly.
Similarly, Batik is another ancient art that has been practiced for 2,000 years in southeast Asia. Alternatively spelled “batek”, this traditional art method for batik printing involved the use of wooden blocks, which made the craft a form of block printing.
In terms of embroidery, Bengal does not lag either. Kantha is a type of embroidery craft gaining popularity due to their aesthetic value and handmade characteristics. Kantha stitching is commonly known as ‘nakshi kantha’. Women in Bengal typically use old saris and cloth and layer them with kantha stitching to make a light blanket, throw, or bedspread, especially for children. Kantha is very popular with tourists visiting the Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent. Here handloom sarees with elaborate zari border on 100% cotton is made by traditional weaving methods by Bengal weavers. Zari art is also known as Neem Zari is very popular for the sake of border of the sarees.
Baluchari (resham): The simplest balucharis have resham threads in a single colour to weave the entire pattern. Swarnachari (baluchari in gold) are the most gorgeous balucharis, woven with gold or silver coloured threads(often with meenakari work in another colour) that illuminate the patterns to a much larger extent.
Stories form an integral part of our culture. Patachitra is a unique folk tradition of visual storytelling accompanied by songs performed by the Patuas. Stories are painted on long scrolls by the painters known as chitrakars (family surname) who gradually unfurl them while narrating. It has been nationally and internationally acclaimed as a very interesting style of painting. To some, Patachitra is the precursor of modern day animation.
Here in Bengal, you will also find the ancient craft of Dhokra(cire perdue, or lost wax) metal casting craft exists among related groups of families in Bikna Village (Bankura) and nearby Dariapur, in West Bengal, Dhokra artisans create string of folk motifs like horses,cows,elephants,owls and peacocks etc. One of the oldest Dhokra artifacts is the dancing girl of Mahenjodaro.
Sholapith craft is one of the primordial handicrafts of the state. Sholapith craft of West Bengal recognized as one of the best example of elegance, exquisite beauty and finest craftsmanship. Sholapith items form an integral part of the major religious rituals in West Bengal. The people engaged as sholapith craftsmen are known as Malakar
The word ‘terracotta’ has been derived from the Latin phrase “terra cocta”, which means ‘baked earth’. Terracotta can be simple defined as clay based earthenware. The finest patterns of terracotta sheets can be found in Murshidabad, Birbhaum, Jessore, Hooghly and Digha towns of West Bengal.
Cooch Bihar produces a special kind of cane which is known as Mutra cane. Mutra cane is the basic or the raw material for preparing shitalpati.
The Population Of Trees And Forests Is Ever Receding. This Increasing Need For Wood Has Been Beautifully Supplemented By Cane And Bamboo. These Eco-Friendly Products Are Light In Weight And Have Their Own Style And Elegance.
RAG Doll is a kind of craft which is root from a Japanese influence, but has lately gained immense popularity in Bengal. Made with small cloth, cotton & wool, these are used by children and for decorative purposes.
There are many more arts and crafts like Alpana Flower paintings,Chikankari,masks,Bankura Horses and Kalighat Patta etc. which one should check out while trying a Bengali look.