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Art & Culture

 
 
culture.jpgA region as diverse and rich in geography, biology and people and customs, naturally has a long and varied tradition of art and crafts. Maharashtra is the proud home to various different artistic techniques which have flourished under the many rulers including the Marathas, the Mughals and the British. From the paintings at Ajanta, so many hundreds of years ago, to today's Warli paintings, Maharashtra's ties with the Arts have always remained strong and nurturing.
 
Mashru and Himru

Aurangabad is famous for Mashru and Himru fabrics made of cotton and silk with the luster of satin. Himru is an age-old weaving craft, and was originally known as kum khuab.

Bidriware

Bidriware, another one of Aurangabad's ancient crafts, is made from a combination of zinc and copper. It usually involves intricate workmanship of pure silver, either embossed, overlaid or inlaid on the metal surface. Originally, Bidri ware items were used as hookahs or paan daans. Nowadays they are more often sold as souvenirs.

Paithani Saris

The art of weaving Paithani saris is 2000 years old. The yarn used is pure silk and the zari or gold threads are drawn from pure gold. A heavily brocaded Paithani sari takes anywhere from six months to one and a half years to weave.

Sawantwadi Crafts

From recent evidence, it appears that the craft of lacquer ware was introduced into Sawantwadi around the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century. Lacquer ware can be broadly divided into three categories. Firstly, turned lacquer ware which is the craft of applying colored lacquer on an object which is turning on a lathe, and then polishing and buffing it by means of a kewda leaf. Secondly, painting of floral borders and motifs on surfaces of objects and thirdly, the painting of mythological figures on various surfaces. 

The painting of mythological figures show three distinct styles, roughly divided into the Chitrakatha, Temple and Ganjifa styles. The Chitrakatha style shows a boldness and tremendous mobility of figures. Temple paintings are static and usually depict a seated deity. The Ganjifa paintings on the other hand, are very stylized and depict the ten incarnations of Vishnu. During the 18th and the 19th centuries, various schools of this craft were started in Sawantwadi. The artisans who trained in these schools, many of whom were imported from nearby Goa, came to be known as Chitrakars or Chitaris.

These days, Sawantwadi lacquer ware has a large range of products and concentrates on traditional hand painted and lacquered furniture and light fittings. Ganjifa card games, which were played and made in the 18th and 19th centuries, are produced in all varieties and can be found in private collections and in museums.

Warli Paintings

The Warlis are tribal people who live in the Thane district, north of Mumbai. Traditionally, Warli paintings or chawk were made by women during wedding rituals. These sacred pictographs used rice paste and straw, which was then smeared on the walls of their modest huts. The main figure was of Palghat, the goddess of trees and plants, symbolizing creative energy. These days, even young men have taken to painting and they are often done on paper incorporating traditional decorative Warli motifs with modern elements as well such as the bicycle, etc. Warli paintings on paper have become very popular and are now sold all over India.

Clothing and Jewelry

Traditionally, the Maharashtrian woman wears a nine-yard sari known as navwadi, and the men are characterized by colorful turbans or phetas. Maharashtra as a region has a strong textile history and has several different types of saris or materials that a typical of a particular part or region, such as Kolhapur, Pune and Paithan.

Jewelry patterns of the Marathas and the Peshwas are still very much in vogue. The Maharashtrian woman loves to wear her malas and hars or necklaces. A favorite with all, is the nose ring or nath, usually with pearls and red and white stones.

Kolhapuri Chappals

Kolhapur is well known for its textiles and cottons, but it is of course most famous for its handmade leather sandals or chappals. These leather sandals are very popular the world over, and their simple styles have made them popular. The cost depends on the quality of leather and design, but in general Kolhapuri chappals are reasonable and good value for money.

Narayan Peth

A traditional Maharashtrian sari usually from around Sholapur, the Narayan Peth sari is beautifully woven in silk with a contrasting zari border, generally with 'rudraksha' motifs.
 

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