6 Unique Forms of Art and Craft Available in West Bengal

West Bengal is famous for its unique form of arts and crafts. The beauty and uniqueness of these crafts are very difficult to describe in words. West Bengal’s handicrafts have been known for their unique rustic and mystic charm. The wide collection of Bengal crafts attracts all art lovers across the globe. 

The main reason is its unique specialisation ranging from embroidery to sculpture and sketching to metal crafts. The designs are often particular to a specific region; some pieces carry the imprint of outside influences, ancient and modern. Sometimes an entire village specialises in a particular craft tradition, with artistic styles and techniques passed from generation to generation. 

Here is a list of some of the extremely unique art and craft, you will find exclusively in West Bengal.

Source: The Craft House
1. Kantha

Kantha is a wonderful and indigenous form of household craft that originated in West Bengal as embroidered quilts. It was used to keep babies warm but with time it has developed into a full-fledged art form, making way for the embroidery on diverse textiles such as traditional women's wear especially sarees. 

It is basically the art of outlining decorative images with running stitches, on clothes, with colourful threads. It is used on saris, dhotis, kurtas, ethnic wear for men and women, bed linen, cushion covers, and other such items. A large number of rural craftswomen are involved in its making, which has increased women's income. Enthusiastic tourists are keen on buying this.

2. Terracotta Craft

The terracotta craft of West Bengal is famous for its pastoral and rustic charm.  Historically, the artefacts were used for ritualistic purposes associated with local village gods and the worship of tribal and folk deities. Terracotta originated under the Malla dynasty towards the end of the 7th century AD. Temple walls are inscribed with these beautiful traditional crafts. 

Source: Hindi Krafts

3. Dokra Metal Craft

Dokra Metal Craft is completely original and one of the most popular forms of art practised in Bengal.  It is named after the Dhokra Damar tribes and is used for making objects like statues, jewellery, idols, bells, anklets, and many other decorative pieces, with the help of clay, wax and molten metal.

This is regarded as the oldest form of metal casting. It is known for its simplicity, charming folk motifs, rustic beauty and imaginative design.

Source: Gaon connection

4. Scroll Painting

Popularly called Pat Chitra in Bengal, scroll Painting is done on thick fabrics, with the help of natural colours. Pat means a piece of cloth scroll and Chitra means painting.  It is divided into a number of compartments, with each compartment carrying an episode of the story narrated by Pat Chitra. 

This art is practised by 'Patidars' who roam around from village to village with their scroll paintings, sing songs and dance to narrate the theme of their painting. This is one artwork that has survived the ravages of time.

Source: Telegraph India

5. Conch Craft Shells

This unique kind of craft is actually the art of engraving decorative motifs on the natural shells obtained from the ocean. The surfaces of shells are engraved by artisans with ornamental designs.  It is an extremely sophisticated and delicate craft of West Bengal and is considered extremely auspicious, as per Hindu mythology.

Craftsmen make the image of Lord Shiva over the shell, while some create entire episodes from the Mahabharata on it. Besides engraved shells,  conch shells are also used to make jewellery items, like bangles, armlets, rings, lockets, buttons, hairpins and clips.

6. Bankura Horses

Bankura horses are produced from terracotta and are fascinating because of their elegance and unique charm. Bankura Horse is the Logo of All India Handicrafts. It is mainly used for village rituals performed by Bengali households. When in the state, make sure to buy a sample of this craft, as a souvenir.

Written by: Prabhveet Kaur

Edited by: Nidhi Jha