has a distinguished tradition of art and craft, which its people
have maintained in spite of the passage of time. For years,
craftsmen in Punjab have been producing colourful papier mache
utensils, intricate needle work, wicker fans and winnows, handmade
Listed below are some of the popular arts/crafts of Punjab:
Weaving of the vegetable fibers to make wicker articles for
daily use is still preserved in the living tradition of Punjab.
Osier bast, a straw commonly known as Sarkanda,
is interwoven with bast, reeds, rushes and corn husks to make
baskets. A few decades ago, Sarkanda, a tough, thick elastic
grass used to grow in plenty. Out of this grass, roofs of
all sizes (which provided air conditioning) were fashioned
in circular shapes. After shaving, thin straws of this grass
were woven into beautiful carpets and curtains. The hand fan,
popularly known as Peshawari Pakkha, is one of the
most popular and fascinating handmade wicker products. Smaller,
fine and more delicate fans are called Kundaladar Pakkhi
on account of their curled ends.
Chhaj, used for separating grain from husk was also manufactured
out of Sarkanda. Sarkanda was interwoven with coloured
cotton threads to weave Chiks, Bohey, Pitarian, (useful
household article) and kind of chairs called Moorras.
Baskets for keeping pins, cotton, buttons, needles, threads
etc., in different shapes and colours were also made from
the combination of shaved Sarkanda and coloured cotton
thread and were taken by women as a part of dowry. Called
katnees, these also find mention in a wedding song:
Punjabi (Tyari ho gayi patolaya teri katni nu phul lag
Arrangements for you have been made O beautiful one-Katni
has now blossomed forth.
Weaving of Durries (cotton bed and floor spreads) in
myriad motifs and designs by young girls has been a much cherished
tradition in Punjab. Stripes, chessboards, squares, motifs
of birds, animals and plants are common patterns. Durries
also used to form a part of girls dowry.
Punjab's proverbially beautiful women create a wealth of forms
on Baghs, Phulkaris, rummals, scarfs etc using needle
work. Phulkari, meaning flower work, is a spectacular
style of embroidery peculiar to Punjab. Considered auspicious,
Phulkaris add a touch of colour and richness to almost every
ceremony. Using a deep coloured cotton cloth as base, women
embroider an impression of floral magnificence with contrasting
silk threads. The thread is pierced upwards from underneath
the cloth into free-hand motifs, The embroidery is so intricate
that it is hard to distinguish between the left and right
or upward and downward side of the phulkari. In the Baghs
and Rummals, the cloth is worked on the top side
only. The patterns are not restricted or controlled, but bold,
free and highly imaginative such that no two Phulkaris
are alike. Phulkaris were traditionally used as attire
but now are exported as wall hangings or sewn as jackets etc.
Punjabi juttis (shoes made of self cured leather and
embroidered all over with gold and silver wires) are famous
world over for their intricate designs and high quality. Even
though gold/silver threads have replaced the silver and gold
wires, the quality of these handmade shoes has been maintained.
Lightness of these shoes is considered legendary, in fact
ancient craftsmen had benchmarked this lightness thus: shoes
should be light enough for sparrows to fly away with.
Punjab has also been traditionally famous for its hand crafted
wood work. Artistic beds with comfortable back rests fitted
with mirrors with carved colourful legs called Pawas,
low seats called Peeras and Peerian were made
by carpenters in almost every village. This skill has also
passed into folk songs (Raati rondi da bhij gaya Lal bhangoora)
Weeping last night my red Swing became drenched.
In giving lacquer finish to wood crafts, in adorning it with
coloured mirror and in engraving wood, inlaying ivory (now
white plastic only) the workmen of Punjab have been renowned
and much of the furniture and boxes, toys and decorative pieces
made out of wood are exported. Areas more renowned for woodcarving
in Punjab are Batala, Amritsar and Hoshiarpur.
The metal workers of Amritsar are renowned for their skill.
Various forms of casting, soldering, and decoration techniques
such as repousse, pierced work, chasing, engraving etc are
used by them to make metal pots, utensils, objects needed
for religious rituals (lamps, trumpet, etc). Decorative items
like lamp shades and engraved metal doors are some of the
items on which these artisans work. The figurative engraved
panels of the Temples and Gurudwaras are also much in demand.
At times metal doors are plated with gold and silver and a
very fine repousse work done on them.
The art of mud wall paintings
Mud walls of the rural houses in Punjab are painted on festive
occasions like Dushera, Karva chauth (the day when women observe
a fast for the well being of their husbands), Holi, Diwali
etc. Walls are plastered with mud and women draw ferns, plants
and other fascinating motifs to invoke the blessings of Lakshmi,
the goddess of wealth and plenty.