Rajasthan: Handicrafts

Rajasthan: Handicrafts



Rajasthan is well known all over the world for its hand-printed textiles, furniture, leatherwork, jewellery, painting, pottery and metal craft. The use of lively colors and flamboyant, fantasy designs is distinctive in all forms of arts and crafts of Rajasthan.



Pottery, one of the old crafts, has its own standing tradition in Rajasthan. Certain shapes are characteristic of Rajasthan. Alwar has been known for its double cutwork pottery known as “kagzi”. It is made of a thin layer of clay and needs a high degree of skill. Purely decorative, the pottery of Bikaner uses lac colours embellished with gold to give a glittering finish. Possibly the only pottery in the world that is made without using clay, Blue Pottery of Jaipur is unique in appearance. The art of glazed Rajasthan: Handicraftspottery came to India through Persia. The materials used are Multani clay or ‘fuller’s earth’, quartz, raw glaze, and sodium sulphate. The best pieces are hand painted with conventional floral or arabesque patterns and sometimes with figures of animals. Besides traditional articles like ‘surahis’, pots and cylindrical jars, other items include ashtrays, tiles, flower pots, lamp stands, beads, ear rings, soap cases, jugs, mugs and door knobs.




The artistic delicacy and elaborateness in the manufacturing of Rajasthani jewellery made of purest and finest materials is world-renowned. Rajasthan became famous for its jewellery industry from very early times, being an important source of precious and semi precious stones. Sophisticated jewellery, set with precious stones using the ‘Kundankari’ technique, or decorated with bright enamel work, known as ‘minakari’, were made for the Rajput courtiers and affluent people. Skillful artisans from Lahore, Delhi, Gujarat, and Bengal, attracted by the liberal patronage of the kings, came to work in Jaipur, Bikaner, Udaipur and Jodhpur . Jaipur is the centre for gold ‘kundan’ work and a renowned centre for diamond and emerald cutting. The temple market at Nathdwara is the best place to buy silver ‘kundan’ and ‘meenakari’ work

Old silver jewellery, which is much in vogue, can be bought in Jaisalmer in every nook and corner of the small bazaar area. Pratapgarh in Chittaurgarh district is famous for ‘thewa’ jewellery .The red, green, or blue foil below highlights the intricate gold work in the best possible manner.


The whole of Rajasthan get coloured with its vibrant textiles. Cotton is produced by the Julaha caste known as Masuria. Clothes made in the Kaithoon village in Kota district are the most highly priced. Both cotton and silk is used in the making. Saris made out of this cloth fetch a good price around the country. The clothes are given treatments like rich blaze of colour, dying, block printing and numerous forms of embroidery and appliqué. Bandhani is the most intricate tie dying process. Parts of the fabric are knotted and on dying the knotted section retain the original colour. The dyes were in old days derived from natural sources such as vegetables, minerals and insects. Bagru is known for earth colors and geometric patterns while Sanganeri clothes have bright colors and floral patterns. Barmer and Jaisalmer are famous for their batik or reverse printing work. Sikar and Jodhpur are famous for intricate tie-and-dye or bandhani designs including chunari (dotted), lahariya (diagonal striped waves) and mothra (large dots) prints. Bikaner, Sikar and Jhunjhunu are well known for the mirror work, embroidery and appliqué work that are used to embellish these fabrics to produce elaborate designs of Rajasthani dresses.

Carpets and Dhurries:

Floor coverings like carpets, hand-woven durries and namdas or soft woollen druggets of Rajasthan are exported all over the world. Available in all sizes, the dhurrie is woven in Jaipur and also in the rural areas of the state. Bikaner and Jaisalmer are known for woolen dhurries made of camel hair. Bikaner is also famous for its so-called jail carpets, which are so called for they were once made by the prisoners in the medieval times. Much like Persian carpets, Rajasthani hand-knotted carpets have geometric motifs and formal designs with a border and central motif. The motifs have indeed been localized and include peacocks and other local icons. Jaipur and Bikaner are believed to be the pioneer centres in carpet weaving.F rom Bikaner and Tonk come also the gaily-patterned, felt ‘numdahs’ or small rugs. A Durree is a cool, light rug. Rajasthani durries are smooth and closely woven. Pastel shades and a sparse use of geometrical and vegetable motifs are popular. Jaipur is a thriving centre for carpets and durrees today.



The use of leather in Rajasthan is very old. The beautifully designed leather shoes are well known items in the world market. Leather is embroidered, punched, studded and stitched in various eye-catching designs. The best known centres of traditional footwear are Jaipur and Jodhpur.

Decorative saddles for horses are prepared in Bikaner, Jaipur and Jaisalmer. A special type of water bottle called ‘kopi’ is made from camel hide.


Ivory work

Rajasthan’s ivory carving centres are at UdaipurBharatpur and Jaipur. Jaipur is famous for its carved ivory, whilst Jodhpur specialises in ivory bangles. Regal blue-glazed pottery of Jaipur is among the most arresting crafts of the state. Under regal partronage, the most delicate art of ivory carving flourished, in the princely capitals of Rajasthan; Bharatpur, Udaipur, Jaipur and Jodhpur. The art is still alive in the delicate ivory figurines of gods and goddesses, minutely carved and perfectly proportioned. Jali-work of lace like intricacy is testimony to the ivory carvers, fine eye and unerring hand. Animal figures, birds, fish trays and paper knives and a host of other decorative objects are carved with utmost artistry and craftsmanship.



Indian craftsmen have always shown an exceptional skill in engraving, chasing and ornamenting of gold and silver articles of everyday and decorative use. The metalware of Rajasthan comprises artistic brass work, enameled, engraved and filigree cut work on silver. The Jaipuri-engravers have mastered the medium of engraving on metal. Lacquered and engraved brassware comes in an amazing variety of articles: hanging lamps, boxes, bowls, picture frames, and plates. Traditional designs are used in different techniques such as hammered, chased or embossed and the motifs are of flowers, hunting scenes and landscapes.

In Jaipur, the engraving is done in three styles namely, (a) ‘Marori’ work- minutely lacquered designs covering the entire surface, (b) ‘chikan’- floral ornamentation standing out vividly against a chased and lacquered background and (c) ‘bichi’ – a delicate pattern of flowers and leaves, on a lacquered surface.

Traditional silver articles like ‘handas’ or water containers, spice bottles, baskets and trays are popular worldover – white metal articles too, command sizeable exports. Water carrier, ‘badla’, made of zinc, a speciality of Jodhpur, is one of the flourishing industries of Rajasthan. ‘Badlas’, usually round, semi-circular or rectangular are sometimes fitted with ice chambers and taps. In ‘Koftagari’ or damascening work, mostly practised in Alwar and Jaipur, one metal is encrusted into another in the form of wire. Popular articles are swords, daggers and shields.



Rajasthan is not merely famous for the valorous deeds and heroic sacrifices of its warriors but also for its splendid architectural monuments made of stone. Temples, forts and palaces are glorious achievements of the craftsmen that have few rivals.

Jaipur is the centre of marble carving in Rajasthan. Here artisans create marble images of the deities as well as domestic utensils such as bowls for grinding spices and kneading dough. At centres such as Ajmer, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaipur can be seen very fine examples of ‘jali’ or lattice, worked on screens and panels in the palaces of these cities.



Close to Jaipur is the small township of Sanganer, the name synonymous today with the finest block printed cottons. Some of the ‘Sanganeri chipas’ have moved to Jaipur and their colourful printed creations are widely available.

Block printing is a finely developed art in other parts of Rajasthan too. While the ‘Bagru’ prints are famous for floral designs in dark vegetable colours, the ‘Barmer’ prints are known for their bold geometric patterns, called ‘AJRAKH’.

A special process of tie-and dye creates the stylized wave pattern, or ‘laharia’, symbolizing water or the monsoon rain. Turbans and ‘odhnis’ with ‘laharia’ patterns are generally used on festive occasions, especially Teej.

Bandhani is a complicated and skilled work of ornamenting the cloth with combination of colours. Jaipur and Jodhpur, the main centres of this speciality have produced many bandhej workers who excel in their jobs.

The traditional handicrafts of Rajasthan survived and developed because they were regarded as material symbols of Rajasthan’s unique cultural ethos. With the initiative of the government, these crafts were survived with the setting up of the All India Handicrafts Board at New Delhi and the Rajasthan Small Scale Industries Corporation at Jaipur. Almost every craft is practiced and marketed in Rajasthan and the tradition has been so nurtured by the craftsmen that their products win the acclaim and appreciation from all.



It  is the flagship brand of the handicrafts marketing wing of The Rajasthan Small Industries Corporation Ltd. (RSIC), a Government of Rajasthan Undertaking. Committed to promoting the handicrafts of the colourful state of Rajasthan, the brand provides a marketing umbrella to the artisans to showcase their craftsmanship and sell their wares without fear of being fleeced by the middlemen. At ‘Rajasthali’ you are exposed to an extravaganza of handcrafted products such as textile, furniture, blue pottery, terracotta pottery, paintings, silver and lac jeweller, etc. among many other traditional products from various corners of the desert state. The Rajasthani craft industry is iconic to the identity of India with many of its styles reaching the international market. With every purchase you make through ‘Rajasthali’ you contribute to the development and promotion not just of Rajasthan, but also help showcase the rich heritage.

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