Punjab is known as a land of green and swaying fields, happiness, self-sufficiency and satisfaction. It is the 15th largest state, area-wise in the republic of India. It is home to Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs who live in harmony and are in perfect sync with each other in terms of lifestyle and traditions. Punjab, to most non-Punjabi Indians finds relevance in love songs, Bollywood movies and picturesque fields. The beauty of its rivers, hills, places of worship and overall strategic location is reflected very well in the lifestyle of the people- the Punjabis. They are effervescent and energetic individuals who believe in celebrating life to the fullest. All these factors have led to the emergence of a typical culture of the state that is beautifully presented through its various arts and traditions. Let us have a look at the various crafts of Punjab
Basketry came into existence in Punjab to facilitate the daily life of the women folk in the villages in Punjab. It was always meant for their convenience and was never really given prominence and looked at in terms of decoration or art work. However, as the art gained popularity, people began to try different and creative methods to embellish the baskets that they made. Thus, the craft of basketry came to be practised widely across the state of Punjab. Baskets are embellished with thin straws of wood that remain after wood shaving. The curl- ended hand fan made out of wood called Kundaldar Pakkhi, is very famous in Punjab. The artisans in Punjab are specially gifted when it comes to basketry and wood work.
Punjabi artisans who are engaged in wood work are much sought after artisans across the country and the state of Punjab is extremely proud to promote their wood furniture and other wood crafts. The wooden beds with beautiful backrests are very well known. The back rests are filled with mirrors while some are made with low seats and are called Peeras and Peerjan and are sought after. There are other beautiful wooden vanity and jewellery boxes, bangle stands, toys, decorative art pieces and other furniture that is prepared by the artisans of Punjab. Wood carving is also done on several furniture and decorative pieces and this is quite specific to the regions of Batala, Amritsar and Hoshiarpur.
Needlework created by the proverbially beautiful women of Punjab is exactly like the ones who create it. It is certainly exquisite and unique. Phulkari, a needlework based on flower motifs and petal shapes and forms is extremely famous as the one that’s specially created for auspicious occasions in Punjab. It is considered to be a symbol of marital bliss and hence finds special presence during weddings and related ceremonies. Phulkari work is found on salwars, handkerchiefs, bed spreads, odhanis, dupattas and even shirts. What is striking is that no two phulkaris are alike and hence each design finds its presence on different kinds of cloth and cloth patterns.
Punjabi juttis are known to be extremely light and made out of sweat-free cloth. These juttis are so light that cobblers would refer to them as the shoes that even birds could wear while taking flight. The golden and silver wires used to create designs on the juttis make them appear heavy and expensive, which is quite untrue. However, the quality of the juttis is never compromised upon and is certainly a rage among the tourists who visit Punjab. Nowadays, several different threads and colourful wires are used apart from the traditional golden and silver wires to make the juttis look more appealing and vibrant!
Since clay is easily available from the nearby pond called Cchappar, clay pots find a special mention in the various arts of the state of Punjab. Different shapes of pots made out of clay are available in different parts of Punjab and each type of pot has a specific function to perform in the everyday lives of the villagers. Of these the Surahi and Ghara (pots used for collecting and storing water) are extremely famous. The pots, once ready, are painted in different colours. Some are even decorated with small coloured pieces of glass in unique designs. These pots find a special presence in big markets of the cities in Punjab and are also sold at a good price.
Just like clay pots, Punjab is famous for its clay toys. Clay toys are also painted in vibrant colours and clothes are also added onto it. However, the presence of clay toys is being increasing replaced by the modern plastic and metal toys available in city markets. Traditional wooden toys are available in regions such as Hoshiarpur and these are lacquer- painted in bright colours like yellow, red, green and orange. Several village women engage in making toys of cloth with cotton stuffed inside them. Punjab villages are known for their fairs which display and offer edible toys in different shapes to children and adults alike. Punjab was also once famous for its toys made out of straw.
Punjabis are very fond of flying kites and hence invest their pass time in making kites of different sizes and varied shapes. Some kites are also decorated with light materials like feathers and straws and are coloured in distinct vibrant colours and shades. Kite flying is observed especially on Basant Panchami, the day of change of seasons. There are several kite flying competitions that entire families participate in.