Made in India. It is a phrase that we see more and more these days - on items as different as the hand-carved wooden beds sold at the luxury home boutique down the road, and the inexpensive brass doorknobs sold at the big-box retailer in your local mall. What is the proverbial common thread that binds these objects together? In my view, it is the remarkable ability of craftspeople in India to combine beauty with utility, and a unique and long-held appreciation of the role of the craftsperson in Indian society.
India, thankfully, is a country where they still make things, both useful and decorative...by hand...using simple tools...often in the exact same manner that they did hundreds of years ago.
Those with champagne tastes can find lehenga cholas made from hand-beaded silk with gold and silver embroidery, Mughal-style jewelry encrusted with diamonds, rubies and emeralds, parchin kari marbletables inlaid with semi-precious stones, intricately-embroidered shawls of the finest pashmina, and petal-soft kaleen silk carpets from Kashmir. At the same time, you can admire the indigenous paintings of the Sauras of Orissa and the Gonds of Madhya Pradesh, the dhokra cast metal objects of West Bengal and Orissa, the Kachchhi embroidery of rural Gujarat, the bamboo baskets of Assam, the folk jewelry of Jharkhand, and the terracotta animal votives of Chattisgarh.
Even if you do not collect applied arts or handicrafts, it is hard not to appreciate the dexterity and inspiration required to craft the myriad of objects made by hand every day throughout India. To the creators, these objects are personal artistic expressions, sources of livelihood and national pride, and symbols of family identity and heritage. To consumers, these objects are marks of refined taste, items to facilitate household chores and protect one from the elements, souvenirs to remind one of a religious pilgrimage or pleasure trip, or merely a source of beauty upon which to gaze in wonder. In summary, they are exquisite material culture.
The itineraries below are representative of the types of Crafts and Textiles tours we can arrange for your enjoyment. They are meant to serve as a source of inspiration for designing a custom tour that satisfies your particular needs and interests. For the artistically inclined, hands-on workshops can be incorporated into most custom travel experiences. Enthusiasts in search of additional information on the regional crafts and textiles of India should read Handmade in India - A Geographic Encyclopedia of Indian Handicrafts published by Abbeville Press.