Thursday, July 18, 2024
Himachal Pradesh

The Traditional Folk Crafts

Pahadi handkerchiefs and other textile crafts

The Pahadi handkerchiefs enjoy a special place among the handicrafts of the area. These handkerchiefs are produced in the Chamba, Kangra, Mandi, Bilaspur 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 elements of a 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 the 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.

Bamboo Craft

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

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.

Clay Articles

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.