Handicrafts of Himachal Pradesh


From the wind -swept high ranges of tribal Kinnaur to the gentler landscapes of the Shimla hills, from its verdant valleys to its rough villages lining its torrential waterways, Himachal Pradesh is a rich repository of ancient crafts that have survived the march of time. In many ways they have accommodated present day needs without losing their original vigour and beauty. Woven fabrics, paintings, wood carvings, jewellery design, have artistic dexterity and traditional beauty in common.


The long cold winter days are well used to spin and weave rough and ready woolens for the family across the mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh. In the Kullu valley the local woven ‘pattus’ and shawls keep the people warm, while the colourful Kullu cap is an essential part of their wardrobe. The main body of the shawls comprises of neutral tones of un-dyed yarn in shades of white and cream, but the borders are embellished with geometric weaves or florals in brilliant hues. From the Kinnaur region you will find shawls with earthy motifs in bold colours and strong lones. The silken Chamba ‘rumaal’ used to be adorned with embroideries of folk motifs but Mughal influences saw a radical change in this charming tradition. Its ‘Pahari School’ of miniature painting inspired the craftsman to replace the simple folk motifs with embroidery of episodes from myths and legend rendered in great detail in brilliant hues; thus the humble ‘rumaal’ was transformed into a work of art. You can also pick up the distinctive ‘Pangwali’ blankets made in Chamba.


Brilliantly hued woolen carpets and embroidered ‘namadahs’ are another strong tradition. Popular motifs woven into the carpets include the dragon, the ‘garuda’ and the foliage. Some of the motifs have metaphorical illusions, such as the flute indicating happiness and lotus signifying purity. The range includes the ornate ‘Gudmas’ which double as wall hangings.


Brass and copper are used to make a wide range of household objects, but they are also frequently used to create artistically stunning decorative pieces. Carved gods and goddesses, brass wall plates, traditional musical instruments, door handles, boxes, wooden masks with brass detailing carry a distinctive regional flavor.

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