About Bihar Handicrafts

Powerful dynasties like the Magadha, Maurya and Guptas had once ruled this fertile land of Bihar. Some great name of Indian History like Ashok, Chandragupta Mauryan and Gautam Buddha had their roots in Bihar. Some of the great religions of the world like Buddhism and Jainism had sprouted form here. Thus naturally Bihar is rich with varied arts and crafts. The unique features of art and crafts in Bihar are the intrinsic beauties and great creativeness. Throughout the generation the rich heritage of art and crafts has been preserved though there are slight variations due to introduction of modern technologies. One key feature of Bihar’s handicraft is their practicality and usefulness in everyday life like bangle making, khatwa works and stone works. Some of the important craft forms from Bihar include:

1. Madhubani Paintings :

  • Madhubani painting, also known as Mithila painting is a style of Indian painting, originated in Madhubani village of Mithila region in the state of Bihar state (and Nepal). According to local mythology, the origin can be traced to the time of the Ramayana, when King Janaka of Nepal ordered his kingdom to decorate the town for the wedding of his daughter, Sita, to Lord Rama. These paintings are also made for each occasion and festivals such as birth, marriage, Holi, kali puja, Durga Puja etc.
  • The painting was traditionally done on freshly plastered mud walls and floors of huts but now they are also done on cloth, handmade paper and canvas. These paintings are made from the paste of powdered rice. Painting is done with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks using natural dyes and pigments and is characterized by eye-catching geometrical patterns
  • Madhubani painting has remained confined to a compact geographical area and the skills have been passed on through centuries, the content and the style have largely remained the same. They also have been accorded the coveted GI (Geographical Indication) status. Generally, Madhubani paintings are identified by the fact that there is no space left uncovered on the painting / Canvas.

2. Sikki Crafts:

  • Sikki is a grass or a weed thrived on most of the river bank. Sikki work is a craft whereby the craftsmen turned these once unnecessary riverside weed into beautiful decorative objects. This craft is particularly practiced by women artisan in Bihar. Beautiful toys and wares are manufactured out of this grass.
  • The women folk, on their journey home after fetching water from the pond cut bundles of the coarse reed and leave it out in the sunlight to dry until it turns supple. Then the golden strands are lashed together into lengths of rope. These are then stitched together to form various shapes ranging from simple round box to complex ones stimulating an elephant, a bird, a snake or a tortoise.
  • Though silky gold is the natural texture of the grass, the women embellish it with dyed strands, woven into patterns of colourful geometrical intricacy, which add elegance to the simple craft.

3. Sujini and Khatwa Embroidery :

  • Sujini is a traditional quilt made with layers of clothes mainly in the rural areas of Bihar. Old clothes are used for the inner stuffing and cotton or colorful threads are used for the embroidery. The sujini depicts village and religious scenes such as bride in palanquin, peacocks dancing, boy flying kite, etc.
  • Khatwa is the applique work of Bihar used to craft decorative tents, canopies, shamianas, etc. The applique designs for tents are Persian type trees, flowers, animals, birds, etc. For canopies the whole design with circular central motif is cut out of a single cloth.
  • Some of the articles cast are vases in different shapes, tumblers, water containers, ornamented spittoons, food cases, bells, candle stands, kerosene lamps, picnic carriers, and a large variety of lamps. Of these, a few items like tumblers, food cases and milk containers are in bell metal and the rest are in brass. A special jar with a cashew-nut design and named after it has become a kind of hallmark of Nachiarkovil.

4. Bangle Making:

5. Stone Work:

6. Lacquer Works :

7. Wooden Carvings:

8. Paper Mache: