Sandalwood (Santalum album) is a small evergreen tree found allover the higher tracts of southern India. It is the most popular and expensive of all woods. It is engraved, inlaid or veneered, and shaped into a variety of ornate articles. The wood is not only used for carving and engraving, but also for making incense and perfume.
The carvers, known as gudigars in South India, start their work either by drawing a pattern that is to be engraved on the smooth and whitewashed surface of the sandalwood, or on a piece of paper pasted over its surface. Then the outlines are engraved in minute detail, by cutting away the interspaces, thus leaving the pattern in low relief.
The most productive region for carpet weaving in India is Kashmir. It is believed that this craft was not indigenous in India but was introduced by travelers or Haj pilgrims who were fascinated by the beautiful carpet traditions of Central Asia and Persia and wanted to bring these art forms back to India. The design of a carpet is governed by a module, the talim, which indicates the number governed by a module, the talim, which indicates the number of knots per square inch and the colour scheme along the weft line of wool or silk, while the wrap is always in cotton. Special types of carpets are produced in Ladakh woven in pure wool with cotton warp in fascinating colours with dragon, snow lion and lotus motifs. In the Chanthank area carpets, known as tsukdan, in both warp and weft in woolen yarn are made. Also, the Jammu region has carpet weaving centers. Carpet manufacture is now prevalent in most parts of the country.
Because of its precious value, gold has always evoked fascination. Its magic luster has been imbibed with auspiciousness. Every woman in India, regardless of the social strata or region she comes from, is desirous of ornamenting herself with golden ear-rings or nose-rings, armlets, wristlets, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, hairpins or other ornaments. The creative skills of traditional goldsmiths had no limits; ornaments are created in fine filigree work inOrissa or Andhra Pradesh; or heavy and richly worked ornaments from Gujarat and Rajasthan, or a rare work of art may be done in Pratabgrah in Rajasthan, wherein an effect of enamelling is achieved by fusing coloured substances onto gold (or other precious metals); and in the south a whole gamut of temple jewellery is created.
In earlier times, Indian fabrics were dyed in natural dyes extracted from indigo leaves, al and turmeric roots, pomegranate skin, Katechu, lac, iron-rust, and the like. Around 1870, European chemical factories successes in synthesizing these natural substances causing great harm to these branches of handicrafts in India. However, with synthetic dyes it was impossible to achieve the brilliant luster for which the textiles from India were appreciated all over the world, since natural dyes penetrated the fabric completely via a lengthy process of beating, washing and sun-drying. A large variety of exquisite floor spreads, wall handing, tent panels, temple hangings. Ceiling cloths, coverlets, and canopies are created by block-printing, often in combination with hand painting in Machilipatnam, Kalahasti and other centers in the Andhra region; in Central India and in Rajasthan-specially in Sanganer and Bagru near Jaipur – where block – printing is done with minute floral designs on basically plain white background: and in many centers in Gujarat, specially in Kutch, a fabric called ajrakh, a mainly dark blue-and-red printed cloth with geometric design is produced.
Because of its brilliant colours, lac, since very ancient times was considered the most suitable material for personal ornamentation for rural people. Most important is the manufacture of thin bracelets for rural girls and women all over India.
Lac is basically a resinous incrustation formed on the bark of twigs of certain trees (kusum or pipal trees) through the action of the lac insect.
After being impregnated, the female insect encrusts around itself a resinous excretion and then develops a brilliant red colour. Lac is available as dye in pure form or mixed with sulphur and formed into sticks called batti which are them used by lathe-turners.