Popularly known as the ‘sheesham wood village’, Saharanpur is home to some of India's finest wood carvers. The city is internationally famous for this craft and its artisans who have been creating magic with the material for years. They ‘breathe life into dead trees’ is how they like to put it. The intricate and fine workmanship is what makes these products unique. The vine-leaf patterns are a specialty of this region. Geometric and figurative carving is also done along with absolutely gorgeous brass inlay work. Other materials like wrought iron, ceramic and glass are being combined with wood to give a new dimension to the craft and ‘contemporize’ the traditional products.
The ‘typical’ product range includes decorated furniture (sofa sets, chairs, tables, stools, wall brackets, closets etc.), candle holders, screens, room-dividers, tableware (bowls, trays, cooking spatula etc.), boxes, mirror frames, book-shelves, pen stands and children’s toys. Apart from these, the craftsmen are trying out newer products and materials every day to innovate upon the existing product categories.
India is the largest brassware making country in the world. This art has been practiced in India over thousand years. According to archaeological records, brass was popular in India since the third century BC and most of the idols of gods and goddesses were made of this metal. Moradabad in the state of Uttar Pradesh is renowned for brass work and has carved a niche for itself in the handicraft industry throughout the world.
The range of brass products from Moradabad include idols for worship, flower vases and planters, surahis (round pots), tableware (plates, bowls, boxes etc.), ash trays, diyas, candle stands, instruments, locks and fittings, hookahs, antique jewellery, furniture and trophies made by skilled artisans.
Bone and horn carving is an art of carving the animal bones or horns and creating intricate pieces of art work. Sambhal since the historic times has been an important center for ivory or bone carving. Ivory carving or bone carving is considered as one of the luxurious craft and therefore got patronized by the royals. The craft is practiced in Sambhal, Rajasthan, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Lucknow. Camel or buffalo bone is purchased from the market. Initially the upper layer is removed and then bone is cut using basuli. Bone is further shaped on a buffing machine. Cut pieces of bone are boiled in hot water and soda for cleaning. The bone is dipped in the solution of hydrogen peroxide and kept in sun for bleaching. Cut pieces are sticked together with the help of an adhesive. Design patterns are marked using prakar and drill. Artisans do the intricate carving on the bone with the help of fine chisels. Finally the product is buffed, polished and painted if required
Earlier the artisans used to make extensive products for the royal courts and the Nawabs of Avadh. Ivory was used to decorate sword and dagger hilts, plaques to adorn the sides of carriages and howdahs, palanquins, games like chess, chowpad, figures, utilitarian objects like combs, bangles and mirror frames, photo frames, furniture's etc. Today, bone has replaced the ivory and now the artisans make jewellery boxes, pen stand, trinkets, paper knife, scissors, earrings, rings, cutlery, chillum’s etc.
Amongst various stone crafts, marble is one of the most cherished crafting stone. Agra, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, has been a centre for marble carving ever since the Taj Mahal was built. In fact, tiny replicas of the Taj are a huge hit with the foreigners who have Agra on the top of their places-to-visit-in-India. The craftsmen of this city particularly specialize in carving delicate jaalis - floral and geometrical. The intricacy of this lattice work speaks volumes about their dedication, patience and fine workmanship. It is so gorgeous that most certainly it will make you skip a beat!
Flowers, leaves and animals are the regular patterns seen in carving but the craftsmen do make an attempt to try out newer products and combine different materials with stone to evolve their design and sensibility. Agarbatti stands (incense stick holders), coasters, statues, trinklet boxes, candle-holders, aroma lamp oil diffusers, miniature Taj replicas, vases, table tops and lamps comprise their ever-selling product range. These largely cater to an international clientele and the flourishing tourist industry.