The Pahadi handkerchiefs and other arts
The Pahadi handkerchiefs enjoys a special place among the handicrafts
of the area. These handkerchiefs are produced in the Chamba, Kangra, Mandi,
Bilaspur and and Kulu areas. Originally the art came to Chamba from Basohli
and the king Samarchand of kangra helped it grow and spread all over the
region.The Handkerchief has come to be known as the Chamba handkerchief
and it is said that this art was patronised by King Rajsingh and
his queen Sharda of Chamba.
These handkerchiefs are made of square or oblong pieces of cloth and
are embroidered all over with silken threads. The embroidery depicts scenes
from the life of the Lord Krishna and the Puranas. Some of them depict the
classical Ragas and Raginis of India. Some times little round pieces of mirror
are incorporated beautifully into the embroidery pattern .
Thapada (a large embroidered shawl), Kohana (a wall hanging), pillow covers, blouses and caps are also embellished with fine embroidery. The caps in the
Kulu, Sirmair, Kinnair and Lahaul regions are also embroidered. The shawls
from Kulu, woolen rugs and carpets from Lahual all depict the traditional Pahadi
designs. Beautiful patch work quilts, rag dolls and elephants are also made in the
area. These dolls and elephants are necessary parts of bride's trousseau.
Dyeing and printing of fabrics has been a traditional craft in the area.
This work is done traditionally by the Farahada and the Chhiba people. The long
knee length gown worn by he Gaddi women known as Juan chadiyan and their Chola
(a white woolen garment ) are good examples of this art. Fine gold ornaments are
also crafted by the local gold-smiths. The jewellery by the woman of Kulu,
Sirmaur, Kinnaur, Pangwati and Bharmor region is very attractive.
The Dom tribe in the area is well-known for producing fine house hold
articles made of bamboo which are painted in brilliant colours. They
produce boxes, sofas, chairs, baskets, racks and several articles of daily use.
Leather craft is highly developed and the slippers and shoes made in
Chamba are in great demand. Presenting the bride and the groom with gold
embroidered slippers at the time of a wedding signifies good taste.
But now people are using shoes, mass produced in factories and so this art
is slowly dying out.
The custom of embellishing the body with tattoo patterns is common in the
Himachal. The figures made by tattooing range from one's name to birds and
flowers and figures of gods and goddesses. This is usually done during
fairs and festivals. The tribal women under go the tortuous operation
quite cheerfully. Henna is also used for embellishing palms and soles of
the feet. The Kinnaur and Kulu areas produce beautiful masks.
The Himachal folk are adept at the art of making pots and figurines with clay. These pots are crafted in many shapes and sizes and include pitchers,
bowls, platters, cups, lamps and small and large pots. These are
decorated with white patterns drawn with Golu clay. Toys and figures of gods and
goddesses are made during festivals .One such festivals is Rali, when the
figures of lord Shiva and his wife Parvati are made. Culinary arts have also developed in the area. Cooks from Kinnaur and Kulu are
invited to faraway palaces to prepare feasts at which they serve traditional delicacies.
The area is well known for the twin art of preparing horoscopes and producing
hand written books.