Arts and Haidicrafts—Alluring Skills

Rajasthan, perhaps more than any other State in India, is a shopper's dream come true. Centuries-old skills in the traditional crafts continue to. produce some of the most exciting wares in the world. Tie-and-dye fabrics in vibrant colours. Fine block-printed muslins and silks. Wood and ivory carving. Lacquer and filigree work. Expertly cut precious stones, and exquisite enamelled jewellery.

Rajasthan's terracotta tradition that was linked with the civilization of the Indus continues today in almost each of its villages. Beyond the utility items like pots and pitchers,, notable are the votive images and plaques of deities particularly from Molela (40 km north of Udaipur). The thriving blue pottery of Jaipur dates back to the 16th century when the influences of China and Persia were brought home by Raja Man Singh I of Jaipur through his contacts with the Mughal rulers of Delhi.

Among the textiles, it is the women's tie-and-dye odhnis and the block printed skirts that are the most distinct. These techniques are now put to use in modern garments, bed-spreads and table-cloths. The fine weave of the Kota-doria sarees are sought all over India for summer wear. Gold and silver khari printing, ajrakh appliqued and embroidered textiles, also abound in, Rajasthan. Of late, Rajasthan's carpet and durrie industry has been revitalised to suit the tastes of modern buyers just as its pattu and khes (shawls for men) are finding new uses as upholstery and bed-spreads. The craftsmanship of jewellers and other skills of Rajasthan are renowned—particularly Jaipur's meenakari, a process of coloured enamelling gold, and the lesser known thewa - work of Pratapgarh by which gold is delicately inlaid in coloured glass. Silver is more commonly worn and worked upon and certainly more affordable for handicraft shoppers. Leather-ware, particularly, Jooties with embroidered uppers are famous and popular.Today, even designer hand-bags with graphic embroideries make a good buy. Wood, metal and stone are used by today's craftpersons to-create decorative and utility items that shoppers often find irresistible. Miniature paintings of the finest quality continue to be eecuted in Rajasthan—both on paper and on large pieces of cloth. Although different regions maintain their styles, there is now a tendency to mix the features: an Udaipur profile may have Kishnagarh eyes with curling clouds of Jodhpur above.