Traditional crafts of Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh is one of the states of India with the North Western portion of the state bifurcated to form the new state of Telangana. Hyderabad was decreed as the capital for both the states until a new capital could be selected for the Andhra region. It borders Chhatisgarh in the North, Odisha in the North East, Telangana in the North West, Karnataka in the West, Tamil Nadu in the South and the Bay of Bengal in the East. The state comprises of two regions namely Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. The main language of the state is Telugu and its culture and heritage is highly influenced by Hindu scriptures and Sanskrit literature. Crafts reflect the heritage of the state.

Toys and Dolls

The metal dolls and toys made of copper and bronze are famous in the state and are carved intricately by the artisans. Bronze icons of various Hindu deities are intricately crafted using the knowledge of Shilpashastra.

The main hubs for the manufacturing of toys and dolls in Andhra Pradesh are as follows:

  • Konda Palli (Vijayawada)- Village and rural lifestyle are the main themes
  • Tiruchanur (Tirupati)- Tirupati dolls are extremely popular and are made from red sandalwood
  • Ettikoppaka (Vishakapatnam) - Specialises in miniature lacquered articles such as utensils, furniture, table ware and toy carts.

Bidriware

Originally belonging to Bidar district of Karnataka, Bidriware have gained immense popularity as a craft in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The craft of Bidriware was introduced by Sultan Ahmad Shah Wali and the craft was made popular by the then Nizam of Hyderabad. Bidriware is essentially pure silver inlaid upon the black background of Zinc and Copper. Hand crafting as well as chisels are used for carving out the designs.

Brassware

Pembarti and Tirupati in Warangal district are the major hubs for the making of Brassware. The primary items are pots, carvings, characters from the Hindu mythology, etc.

Carpet Weaving

This craft was brought into India by the Persians and Mughals. The designs are mainly geometrical or floral with intricate patterns and rich colours. The region also has good cotton cultivation, hence carpet weaving flourished here. The Indo-Persian design was also greatly admired by the British and these carpets also known as Eccan rugs were even exhibited in London in the 18th century.

Pearl Jewellery Crafting and Silver filigree work

Pearl jewellery like bangles, necklaces, anklets, rings, lockets and ear rings are beautifully crafted by the craftsmen. Silver filigree work is delicately crafted to make boxes, spoons, perfume containers, jewellery like brooches, pendants, animal and bird figurines, trays, plates and many other items. Silver-filigree work is mainly practiced in Cuttack, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Currently, wire-drawing machines are used to draw fine hair-like strands of silver and prepare exquisite Silver-Filigree ware. In the older days Charkha and hammer were used to make the fine wires of silver.

Tortoise Shell Products

Vishkhapatnam is the main hub for the making of tortoise-shell and ivory products. Owing to the limited supply of tortoise shells, currently they are in short supply. The best known product is the octagonal jewel box with the ivory net cover.

Block Printing or Kalamkari

This technique of block printing on cloth using vegetable dyes flourished in Machilipatnam. Its name implies ‘Kalam’ or pen and ‘kari’ or work and is a mixture of hand printing and painting. During the British rule, this craft was in high demand as furnishings and dress materials in Europe and South East Asia with motifs of animal and floral designs. The Persian influence on the designs is also visible. The artisans are skilled in making detailed blocks with elaborate designs carved on them.

Kalamkari Hand Painting

This technique was used to embellish temple cloth and wall hangings. Blocks are not used in this method and the paintings generally illustrate scenes from mythology and epics. They are painted with rich colours made from vegetable dyes.

Weaving

Different types of sarees like Dharmavaram, Ikat, Brocade silks, Cottons, Gadwal are beautifully and intricately woven with motifs and patterns which are famous throughout the world.

Embroidery

The embroidery done by the women with linear and geometrical designs in beautiful colours, cross stitch on the borders of dupattas and blouses is famous in the state. Lace and crochet embroidery in different designs, patterns and motifs are used in bedspreads, curtains, dress materials and pillow covers.  

Leather Craft

Puppet figures are made from leather which is used by the puppeteers in their shows which are famous throughout the region.

Wood Carving

Red sandal wood is used to carve intricate images of deities as it is resistant to white ants and fire. Delicate carvings of mythological figures and stories are done in palace entrances and temple chariots using rosewood and teak.

Wooden lacquerware

Lacquerware products are made from Poniki wood which is a soft wood and this includes toys, bowls, containers, jars, earrings and bangles. Dolls are also artistically made using themes of daily life in villages and figures of deities, birds and animals are intricately carved. Kondapalli wooden toys are famous throughout the land for its rich colours.

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