Karnataka, the state having a rich cultural heritage, presents
an enchanting range of objects of arts and crafts. The craftsmen
create masterpieces out of mere wood, metal, fabric or just good
earth which capture hearts of millions. The patronage of the Maharajas
for centuries, these traditional crafts are preserved, developed
and promoted by the state. Many great dynasties left their imprint
upon the aesthetic development of Karnataka's art forms. The variety
offered is really astonishing exquisite sandalwood carvings, intricate
inlay work on rosewood, splendid bronzes, beautiful bidriware, colourful
lacquerware toys, ethnic dhurries, batiks, stone-studded jewellery
and incense sticks.
[ Woodcarving | Ivory Carving
| Metal Ware | Stone Carving |
Doll Making | Bidriware | Folk
Art and Craft | Mysore Paintings | Mysore
South India in general and Karnataka in particular is famous for
densely carved ebony wood furniture. The abundant forest resources
provides sufficient raw material to the craftsmen who continue to
employ ancient techniques to carve, inlay, veneer, paint, and lacquer
articles in wood. The ancient temples where wood has been used extensively
is a proof of their calibre. Rosewood articles are favourite with
The city of Mysore is the centre of wood work. Craftsmen in the
city of Mysore have specialised in making exquisite articles that
depict landscapes, pastoral scenes, elephant herds, birds etc.
Ivory carving was another traditional craft of Karnataka. But due
to ban on Ivory trade, the craft has received a setback. Some of
Mysore's masterpieces in ivory are now preserved in the Heritage
Museum in Russia and in the South Kensington Museum, London.
Metalware in Karnataka has a rich and ancient tradition and the
objects serve both religious and secular purposes. Udupi is famous
for its small images and ritual objects, while Karkala is well known
for its Jain icons. Mangalore boasts of domestic articles made of
bell metal while Nagamangala near Mysore is celebrated as a center
for bronze casting.
Stone carving is a skilled craftsmanship prevailing among the people
of Karnataka. Karnataka has a village called Shivarapatana in the
district of Kolar, where every fourth house is a sculptor's studio.
The stone carvers are skilled craftsmen.
Karnataka is also famous for the fragrance of sandalwood. It is
used extensively to produce charming art pieces. The range of objects
and designs are varied and the gudigar families of Shimoga, Uttara
Kannada and Mysore districts specialize in this craft. Sandalwood
lends itself to extremely delicate carving that is needed to embellish
the figures of gods and goddesses. Krishna images are very popular
among the devout, while many prefer to buy utility articles made
in sandalwood which include lamp shades, caskets, trays, jewel boxes,
combs and even walking sticks with rosewood handles.
Doll making is another famous craft in Karnataka. During the nine
day Dussera festival, the homes display dools in a glass-covered
shelf in the drawing room. Dolls are favourites among women and
children alike and every family has a large collection of these.
These are symmetrically arranged on wooden platforms. Kinnal and
Gokak in north Karnataka and Channapatna on the Bangalore/Mysore
highway are important centers for doll making. Most of the dolls
made are painted with vegetable dyes while the Channapatna ones
are lacquered. The art of making puppet has galvanized many wood
artisans and painters to produce a variety of puppets. Besides puppets
made of wood, Karnataka also makes leather puppets which are more
The most popular craft of Karnataka is bidriware. This craft had
its origin from Bidar, a district of the Bahmani kingdom founded
in the 14th century. Bidriware-a well-developed craft, which includes
the use of a metal plate of an alloy made of zinc, copper, tin,
and lead. Sultans of the Bahmani dynasty were great patrons of art
and were instrumental in synthesizing Mughal and Iranian culture.
The technique of bidri came to India from Iran in the 14th century.
Captivated with the exquisite beauty of bidriware, Sultan Ahmad
Shah Wali brought from Iran the master artisan, Abdullah-bin-Kaiser
along with several other craftsmen. They were entrusted with the
delicate job of furnishing and decorating the royal palaces and
havelis. Bidri articles include ornamental jugs, bowls, plates,
penholders, candlesticks, and even paper knives.
Art and Craft
Karnataka has a rich tradition of folk arts - crafts and music,
dance and drama forms. Some of Karnataka's folk arts and age-old
rituals have given rise to many traditional handicrafts. The worship
of spirits-the bhuta cult-in the coastal districts has encouraged
the making of huge wooden idols, some of which are kept outside
villages as guardians of the inhabitants. Likewise, the art of puppetry
has encouraged many wood carvers and painters to produce a variety
of puppets. In addition to puppets made of wood, Karnataka is famous
in the world over for its leather products painted with epic and
mythological scenes, done in gold and silver.
Karnataka is famous for Mysore Painting. The Mysore art dates back
to the Ajanta times and to the reign of the Vijayanagar kings. It
was revived in the state of Mysore during the reign of the Wodeyar
king Mummadri Krishnaraja Wadiyar . A Mysore Painting usually depicts
an Indian God from the Hindu mythology and a complete Mysore Painting,made
with all the sincerity and hard work is a real sight for the onlookers.
It gives you a very soothing feeling, a feeling of inner peace and
tranquility. The delicate lines, the graceful delineation of figures
and the discreet use of bright vegetable colors and lustrous gold
leaf, make the traditional paintings of Mysore very elegant and
Mysore silk, with its unique sheen and regal look, amazing drape,
pure yarn and zari, has held its own among all other silk fabrics
from India and abroad. The contribution of Karnataka to India's
silk industry is significant. Karnataka's 200-year-old silk industry
owes its origin to Tipu Sultan who ruled Mysore. He showed a very
personal interest in sericulture and also established 21 centers
in his dominion to rear the silk. The very word silk has fascinated
man for many centuries. It has become an inseparable part of the
Kannada culture and tradition. No ritual in complete without the
participants wearing silk in some form or another. Today, Karnataka
alone is contributing 75 per cent of mulberry silk to the nation's
production. Today, it is the Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation
(KSIC) which holds aloft the State's supremacy in silk and silk
products, from classy dress material, stoles, and furnishings to
the most resplendent of saris.
Information on Traditional Crafts, arts, handicrafts of Karnataka