has been attracting the best of musicians, dancers and painters for
centuries. This is natural because it has been the seat of power for
many dynasties. The rulers were the patrons themselves. Today, a travel
to Delhi will acquaint you with the fact that Delhi is a great center
Shahjahanabad, Old Delhi as it is called today, is the richest
of the legacies: not only because it is the closest to us chronologically
but also because the Mughals were great patrons of arts and crafts.
An important craft that developed during the time was ivory carving.
But then came the ban on ivory. The skilled craftsmen had no option
but change their raw material: they started using bones of buffaloes
and camels instead of ivory. Go to Matia Mahal's Pahadi Bhojla and
you will find umpteen shops of jewelers who fashion beautiful bangles
and necklaces out of bone.
Creating magic with golden thread embroidery or euphoria with semi-precious
stones, there are the zardozis in the neighborhood. Zardozi is the
art of embroidery with gold thread. These craftsmen work intricate
designs on silk, velvet, and even tissue materials. Insignias, pulpit
covers, embroidery on the robes of bishops and even the Pope are
all created here.
The medicinal value of silver paper (varak) is well known. Thin
sheets of silver paper are still wrapped around sweets and even
betel leaves. If you are looking for the authentic one, go to Matia
Mahal again. A few of the craftsmen who beat silver into thin sheets
by hand still live here. There was a time when there were so many
of them that you could just follow the sound of the hammer and reach
them. Today you have to do a little asking around to reach the small
The famed meenakari work, where paint is embossed on silver or
gold to give it the look of a precious stone, was once a thriving
business of Shahjahanabad. Turbulence of Delhi, ever since Nadir
Shah and later the colonial rule, pushed the artisans away to peaceful
climes. This group moved partly to Rajasthan, while those who make
bangles from lac moved to Hyderabad in the Deccan.
Lacquer work bangles are one of the old art forms still alive in
Shahjahanabad. Bright shades of yellow, red, and blue are perked
up with tiny pieces of mirrors and gold-colored borders with beads
to add that extra touch.
Common to many parts of Delhi are the potters. Not only do they
fashion pots for the hot summer, which, in spite of refrigerators,
are still greatly in demand, they also fashion beautiful clay and
papier-mâché dolls. These clay dolls, some as toys
and some as decorations and some even as clay idols during festivities,
are still popular with the rural-urban migrants. The special areas
in the capital where these toys are available in can, bamboo, tin
and pottery, and sometimes involving the ingenious use of Indian
textiles and costume jewelry, are Ajmeri Gate, Chandni Chowk, Hauz
Khas, Paharganj and Ramakrishna Puram. Earthenware figures can be
obtained in many places including Ajmeri Gate and Sarojini Nagar.
There's more: making of incense sticks, ittars (perfumes), brass
moulding, and so on. Shahjahan's gift to the country did not stop
with the Taj Mahal
Information on Traditional Crafts, arts, handicrafts of Delhi -