India has been blessed with artists who create finest of handicrafts that are renowned across the world. Uttar Pradesh is no different with artists and artisans specialised in different forms of art from Agra to Varanasi. Mughals ruled major parts of UP for over two centuries which impacted the artwork. The Nawabs were believed to have great taste and appreciation of art which led to further development of the craftsmanship in the region. Even today, UP is home to several different handicrafts that are exported across the nation and the world.
The history of art and handicrafts from Uttar Pradesh
Hand printing is Uttar Pradesh’s oldest craft. Its origins can be traced back to 1714 AD, when Farrukhbad, the city famous for this craft, was established. Since the days of the Mughals, the state has promoted many forms of art. Emperors such as Akbar, Shah Jahan, Dara Sikoh, and Farrukhsiyar were tremendous art aficionados who established many traditions during their reign. Nawabs of Awadh and other lords continued the tradition later. This is the main reason why, from Benaras to Agra, every small or large town in Uttar Pradesh is famed for some wonderful art.
Today, this beautiful city is home to skilled artisans who are responsible for some of the finest handicrafts in the world. From far off places, tourists come to the city to purchase and try their hands on the exquisite production of the renowned Lucknow handicrafts. Here are some of the most well-known art and handicrafts from Uttar Pradesh that you should include on your cart the next time you go shopping.
Lucknow Chikan Work
An exquisite specimen of Uttar Pradesh handicrafts, Chikan work has a long history that goes back to the early third century during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya. It is also believed to be introduced by the Empress Nur Jahan, wife of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Chikan literally means embroidery, but the Chikan work involves 36 different types of stitches. It is a multistep process, with the first step being cutting of the cloth as per the desired shape. It is followed by block printing the core design on which the artist would complete the embroidery. Later, it is washed to remove the ink of the printed pattern. Some of the most common stitches include the Jali, Tepchi, Murri, Pashni, and Khatao. Chikan Kurti and Lucknow Chikan sarees are particularly popular. Be sure to book a taxi service in Lucknow and explore all the bazaars that sell Chikankari garments.
The existence of Zardozi goes even far beyond the kings to the times of Rigveda. Yes, the art is that old. Zardozi entails metal embroidery using silver and metal threads. The process of Zardozi embroidery is quite complicated and involves numerous tools. The craftsman works around a wooden frame with his tools which include needles, hooks, glass & plastic beads, gold wires, silver wires, and threads. In UP, you can buy products such as coats, dresses, sarees, pants, etc. with Zardozi work on it, of course, minus the gold or silver embroidery. A few select places also sell exquisite zardozi embroidery designs made from real silver and gold but be prepared to shell out a bomb for these.
Meenakari work is a Persian art that was introduced in India by Mughal invaders. Predominantly seen in Rajasthan in combination with other artwork, it is also practiced by artisans in Varanasi. The artisans who practice the art are known as Meenakars, and it is passed down from one generation to another. Coming back to the art, it involves engraving ornaments with colored enamels to create an appearance of a complete picture. Meenakari jewelry goes through a chain of artisans each of whom completes one task and hands it over to the next person. This is probably one of the earliest examples of division of labor and super-specialization. Meenakari earrings and meenakari paintings are particularly popular handicrafts of Uttar Pradesh.
Zar Buland work was developed in Lucknow by introducing variations in existing Bidri work of Karnataka. It is an art of coating one metal over another resulting in a beautiful finished product. The designs in Zar Buland work are above the surface as opposed to Bidri work where it is inlaid. The process as in every artistic work is long and involves steps such as molding, polishing, carving, engraving, and darkening. A popular handicraft of Uttar Pradesh, the Zar Buland work is famous particularly in Lucknow, and you can buy souvenirs here at a decent price.
Uttar Pradesh’s carpet production centres are Bhadoi, Shahjahanpur, and Mirzapur. Carpet weaving is a routine occupation for most people in these areas, and it has evolved into one of Uttar Pradesh’s most important arts and crafts. This Persian ritual has survived to the present day and has gained national and international recognition. Throughout the state, you may be able to witness the finest silk carpets woven with beautiful Persian themes. The carpets are fashioned in a variety of stunning flora, animal, and other designs.
India has been a prime producer of natural fragrances including the Attar perfume- also known as Ittar ever since civilization began. Attar is a scented oil that is derived from plants via distillation and then adding it to sandalwood oil which acts as a base. This mixture is then aged for a period varying from a few months to several years. The town of Kannauj in UP is the present perfume capital of India that is trying to keep the art alive while fighting the competition from modern fragrance makers. When you in UP, buy few bottles of attar to keep a civilization old Indian tradition alive.
The handicrafts of Uttar Pradesh have gained recognition in other countries too for their fine craftsmanship. Chikan fabric, for instance, is exported to Europe, US, Singapore and even Africa. If you are an art lover and are looking for offbeat art havens, you may want to check this out.
If you plan to take an art tour in Uttar Pradesh, we recommend you book a cab and add Lucknow, Khurja, Allahabad, Saharanpur, and Agra to your itinerary! You can now book intercity, local and airport cabs on the go and avail exciting app-only discounts with Savaari’s Android car rental app.
Last Updated on February 28, 2023 by blogadmin
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