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Pith Work

  • 10 Popular Indian Handicrafts That Make the Best Souvenirs

    India is a captivating confluence of geography, culture, and tradition that captures every tourist's imagination. But, as all tourists know, every journey comes to an end eventually. Here is a list of ten popular Indian handicrafts you could acquire as souvenirs from your visit to this unique and beautiful country –

    1) Polished Metal Mirror

    Hundreds of years ago, native craftsmen invented the polished metal mirror. Known locally as the tarantula candid, this ornament is made by the bronze-smiths of India and can be found easily in this region of the world.

    2) Coir ornaments

    Simple yet elegant, the well-knitted coir ornaments made in Kerala will add a touch of style and sophistication to any living room or office. The decorative pieces are crafted by the women of the coir village. Other products made from this material include hammocks, wall hangings and blinds.

    3) Puppets

    Puppetry is an Indian tradition that has been kept alive for countless generations. The art of puppetry in this country has been maintained in the Nat community of Rajasthan. Their unique puppets are made of softwood which is carved and decorated with fabrics made within the state.

    4) Woodcarvings

    These items are a little expensive buthave theincomparable quality of design and shapewhich is hard to find anywhere else. Sandalwood sculptures can be found in states such as Kerala, and usually, depict common figures from Hinduism such as the God and Goddess.

    5) Paintings

    The tradition of painting in India is rooted in ancient practices such as Kalamezhuthu and the murals and frescoes of colonial-era churches. Poompuhar store also displays various famous forms of painting such as Thanjavur Paintings, Jute Painting etc.

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    6) Chanderi Saree

    The Chanderi saree is one of the best examples of handloom weaving in India. The lustre and transparency of the materials used to create this attire make it exceptionally better than other handmade fabrics in India.

    7) Ornamental Bangles

    These are rigid bracelets, made from gold, silver, glass or plastic. Bangles are of great significance for the married women in India as it is considered inappropriate for a married woman to be bare armed in public. They make great souvenirs as they are small, durable and affordable.

    8) Traditional Papier Mache

    The art of paper Mache is widely practised in India. The artisans of Kashmir are particularly known for the exceptional quality of the vases and models made using this method. Papier Mache pieces usually have bright coloured finishing and highly elaborate design.

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    9) Handmade fibre products

    Indian artisans are highly skilled craftsmen known for the quality and durability of their handmade fibre products. Artisans obtain fibre from locally available plant residues such as pineapple leaves and banana stems. It is then treated and used to create purses, laptop bags and wall hangings.

    10) Silver craft

    Silverware is a speciality of the artisans of Kachchh. They use light embossing enhanced by scrapping and etching to produce elegant functional pieces of art such as cigarette boxes and ittar-danis (perfume bottles).

    So next time, while travelling to India, do not forget to collect your souvenir to remember the trip!! Poompuhar also offers all valid documents to ensure that the overseas customers go through a hassle-free customs process at the airport.

  • The Art of Papier Mache

    Be it a  piece of wood, a village wall, a floor, a palm leaf, a or even the palm of a hand, if it is art it will express its beauty in any dimension. Papier Mache is an ancient art of mixing paper pulp with glue or sometimes flour and water that hardens when dried, to make a variety of wonderful decorative and utility items. Papier Mache is a French word that means chewed or mashed paper.

    History of Papier Mache

    The art of Papier Mache is as old as Paper making. In Egypt, coffins and death masks were made from papers and covered with plaster. The art originated in Persia (Iran) and was brought to India, by Mughal emperors of that time. Impressed by the beauty of the Persian Papier Mache, King Zain-ul-Abidin during 15th century, invited artist from Iran and patronized the art in Kashmir. The art was originally known as Kar-i-Qalamdan and was used to ornate pen stands (qalam means pen) and later extended to decorate a large number of household articles using paper pulp or layers of polished paper and was then known as Kar-i-Munaqqash. Papier Mache art is now widely practiced in many states of India.

    Procedure of Papier Mache
    The process of making Papier Mache is broadly classified into 2 steps. The first one is called 'Sakhtsazi' or making the object and the second one is known as ‘Naqqashi’, which means painting the surface of the object.

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    To make Papier Mache crafts, first waste paper is soaked in water till it gets pulpy. It is then pounded, mixed thoroughly with gum and Multani Mitti (white clay), shaped over moulds, and is then allowed to dry before being painted. Organic colors from vegetables and flowers are used for painting with a special painting brush whose bristles are made out of goat hair. Sometimes plaster of Paris is added for softening and the final product is coated with layers of lacquer. Traditionally, Papier Mache products used to be coated with stretched sheep skin which was apt for applying colors. To enhance the beauty and shine, pure silver or gold dust is sprinkled. The final product is an outstanding piece of art that travels many pairs of talented hands and imaginative minds before reaching the market. Above all skills, the aesthetic sensibility and hereditary skills are very essential for creating Papier Mache products.

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    Patterns and motifs

    The motifs in Papier Mache designs are mostly historical figures, flowers, animals and birds (particularly kingfisher). Traditional patterns include Hazaara or ‘thousand flowers’ and Gulandergul or ‘flower within flower’. Chinar leaf, Persian rose, cherry blossoms and tulips are also quite popular motifs.

    Papier Mache Products

    Apart from being inexpensive and non-toxic, Paper Mache products are light-weight and robust. There is a wide variety of Papier Mache products like wall hangings, jewelry boxes, lamps, masks, paper boats, puppets, dummies, sets, mirror cases, flower vases, utensils like kettles, plates or trays that reflects the artistic zeal and skill of the craftsmen.

  • Pith work: Carving monuments out of wood

    Among the various Indian arts is Pith Work, which has been in India for a long time. Indian artisans are skilled at making miniatures of anything you ask for. The stalks of an herbaceous plant are dried in sun until they loses all their water content.  The uppermost layer is then skinned and all of them are cut into cylindrical blocks. Pith work is then carved out from these cylindrical wedges.

    taj

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    It was initially done by either keeping it plain or by colouring the miniature ivory, but in today’s time, many craftsmen make colourful sculptures out of pith. The final finished product comes in various sizes and the prices also range from a mere fifty to a few thousand rupees. The southern states of India are known for Pith work in the entire world. Visitors from far-off places appreciate this form of art. Many of them also take them home as a souvenir from the Indian soil.

    perumal temple

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    The artisans are an expert in carving Taj Mahal, Rajagopurams, and other monuments; each piece in absolute resemblance with the original. The work requires a lot of finesse and dedication. The miniatures are made in parts. Each part is carved intricately with a very sharp knife and then stuck to the main body generally with a naturally made gum. This process can take up to days for making a single specimen which is later on placed into a glass case and sealed from all the sides.

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