'Applique', which is a French term, is a technique by which the decorative effect is obtained by superposing patches of coloured fabrics on a basic fabric, the edges of the patches being sewn in some form of stitchery. It is distinct from what is known as patch work in which small pieces of cut fabrics are usually joined side by side to make a large piece of fabric or for repairing a damaged fabric. Though the form is not unknown in other parts of India, it is Odisha (Formerly Orissa) and specially in Pipli that the craft has a living and active tradition continuing over centuries. While the largest number of applique craftsmen are concentrated in Pipli, there are quite a few in Puri and very small numbers in Khallikote, Parlakhemundi and Boudh areas also.
As with many other handicrafts of Odisha (Formerly Orissa), the roots of the applique art/craft form is interwined with the rituals and traditions of Lord Jagannath, the presiding deity of the Puri temple. The applique items are mainly used during processions of the deities in their various ritual outings. Items like Chhati, Tarasa and Chandua are used for the purpose. However, the applique work in its colourful best is most prominent in the cloth cover of the three chariots of the presiding deities in which they travel every year during the Ratha Yatra or Car Festival. As per tradition, the colour scheme of the three covers is predetermined. The chariot of Balabhadra known as Taladhawaja has a cloth covering of bright green and red, while that of Subhadra known as Padmadhwaja or Darpadalana has a cover of bright red and black. The chariot of Lord Jagannath called Nadighosha has a cover of bright red and yellow. The basic design of all three is similar being a combination of narrow and wide stripes while on the four sides above the openings, there are applique mythical motifs like Rahu, Chandra as well as motifs from nature like flowers etc. It is these colourful applique covers which indentify the chariots of the three deities from far away by the millions of pilgrims thronging the Badadanda or the extrawide main road of Puri in which the lords make their annual sojourn in the car festival. Seats and pillows in applique are also made for ceremonial use by the deities during the annual ritual of bathing festival (Snana Jatra) and is locally known as 'Chakada Kama' with motifs of 27 stars and geometrical forms in applique work with motifs of fish, frog etc. on black cloth is used in the ritual dress of the Deities of Puri temple, locally known as the 'Gaja Uddharana Vesha', incarnation of Rescuer of Elephant. Applique cover is also made for caparisoning the dummy horses in the 'Horse Dance' or Ghoda Nacha during Chaitra Festival in Puri and other places.
The craft is traditionally practised by a caste of professional tailors, known as 'Darjis'. As with others services of the Lord, darji seva or the supply of applique items is rendered by the caste members in return for which they receive certain portion of the daily offering, 'bhog' from the temple. All this is regulated by the record-of-rights of the Jagannath Temple. The darjis have their own headman or sardar who has a higher share in the 'bhog' of the Jagannath Temple. It is interesting to note that the craftsmen are socially well organised and there are close family relationships between the craftsmen of Puri and Pipli. Their organisation can be very well compared to the craftsmens' guilds of medieval Europe. They also have annual meetings of craftsmen to resolve social and related problems.
The traditional items made of applique patterns and associated with religious functions are canopies, locally called 'chanduas', Chhati, a sort of big umbrella with a long wooden handle. Tarasa, a heart-shaped wooden piece covered by applique cloth and supported by a long wooden pole, both these items being carried before the deities in their ceremonial processions. 'Jhalar' another popular item is a sort of frill which is used as a border to canopies and also independently used as decorative pieces. An interesting secular and popular item is 'Batua', a unique Orissan cloth pouch which has usualy a semi-circular shape with the top being straight. There are various layers of cloth providing pockets for storing different items of use and the mouth is closed by pulling strings attached to the sides. It is very popular among village folk for keeping the materials for 'pan', like betel leaf, areca nut, lime, etc., as well as for keeping money. Another traditional item is 'Sujnis' or embroidered quilts.
The basic material for applique is cloth. The process is fairly simple and has been succinctly summarized by Mr. B.C. Mohanty in his manograph on 'Applique craft of Odisha (Formerly Orissa)-study of contemporary Textile crafts of India' as under : 'Flat motifs are first cut from cloth and specially prepared motifs are made separately. If more than one of the same cut motifs is required, a stencil is used. These cut and specially prepared motifs are then superposed on a base cloth in predetermined layout and sequence. The edges of the motifs are turned in and skillfully stitched onto the base cloth or stitched by embroidery or without turning as necessary. The specially prepared motifs may be coloured or white. The base cloth is usually coloured. Some of the specially prepared motifs have exclusive embroidery work and some have mirror work. In heavy canopies, the base cloth is additionally supported by a back cloth for strength.
The stitching process varies from item to item and come under six broad categories, namely, (1) bakhia, (2) taropa, (3) ganthi, (4) chikana, (5) button-hole and (6) ruching. Sometimes emroidered patterns are also used and in a few items mirror work is also incorporated. The layout of various motifs and patterns vary according to the shape of the piece. The canopy has a large centre piece which may be a square. This centre piece is then bounded by several borders of different widths, one outside the other, till the edge is reached. In the umbrella and Chhati the inner field is arranged in circles, each circle having patches of one motif placed side by side. Patterns are laid in the same way as the shape of the Tarasa, with a large motif or two placed at the centre. The layout for covers for horses consists of a series of concentric strips in the portion which covers the neck, each strip having patches of one motif, while the portions which fall on either side of the body are plain, having border all round with or without a motif at the centre of the plain field.
The motifs used are fairly varied yet fixed and cosist of stylised representations of flora and fauna as well as a few mythical figures. Of the more common of these motifs are the elephant, parrot, peacock, ducks, creepers, trees, flowers like lotus, jasmine, half-moon, the Sun and Rahu (a mythical demon who devours the sun). Just as there are a few fixed motifs only a limited number of colors are used in the traditional applique craft. These are green, red, blue, ochre and black. The creative urge of the craftsmen however are released in the endlessly various combination of motifs as well in the mixing of these limited colors. While there has been very little change in the use of motifs, there has been a trend towards greater experimentation in colour combinations.
Superimposition of coloured cloths on grey marking cloth is quite common today as the use of cloth of all colors and hues. Similarly, with the changing times the craft has also adopted itself to the needs of modern man. Among the more popular applique items today are garden umbrellas, a variant of chhati with wooden or aluminium stands, shoulder bags, ladies hand bags, wall hangings, lamp shades, bed covers, pillow covers, letter pouches, etc. Applique items are also being used in combination with other handicrafts to produce composite products. An interesting use is the superimpposition of applique on grass mats and used as partitions. Though earlier the art form was restricted to darji caste, today it is practised by non-caste members, notably by some young Muslim boys. Unlike many other handicrafts, applique items are attractive artefacts of daily use apart from being decorative. They are also comparatively cheaper.
Brass & Bell Metal:
Metal craft is perhaps the single most important craft in terms of the number of artisans engaged in its practice as in its close links with the daily lives of the people of the State. The craft is practiced by the people of the Kansari caste who can be broadly described as metalsmiths while a particular variety, dhokra, is practiced mainly by sithulias. The largest concentration of the former is Kantilo and Balakati in Puri district although fairly substantial numbers are found in Cuttack, Ganjam and Sambalpur districts.
The products of this handicraft can be broadly classified into three groups-items produced through process of beating, locally known as pifa, those produced by casting and the third group would include the residual items. These can also be broadly subdivided into two groups in terms of raw materials used, this is, brass and bell metal, the former being an alloy of copper and zinc and the latter of copper and tin.
The workshop is called sala or shed and consists of a platform with a block of stone for the floor on which the beating is done, a heating furnace or bhati, a raised verandah with a local lathe for polishing. Tools used are hammers and anvils, pincers, hand drills, files and scrapers. The heating furnace with a crucible is fanned by a blower with leather bellows although of late the craftsmen have started using mechanical blowers.
The process consists of preparation of the material by melting the required materials in the crucible and then placing the molten metal into an earthenware container. After the molten metal sets, it is taken out and after repeated hammering and beating is given the desired shape. Sometimes for making a single item two or three pieces are separately made and joined mostly with rivets. The major items manufactured in the beating process are plates or 'thali', deep round containers called Kansa, small containers called 'gina' (tumbers), water containers called gara and buckets or 'baltis', large cooking utensils and storage vessels called 'handi', various types of pots and pans, ladles or chatu, perforated flat cooking spoons etc. While the above mentioned are items used in cooking and eating there are also a number of items used for puja or worship. Of these most important of course, is the ghanta or the gong and thali for offering of the food to the deities. It may be mentioned here that in a few places the surface of the items are also engraved with various designs including floral and geometric patterns besides human and animal figures and occasionally they are also painted with enamel paints. The items produced by the beating process are many and the designs also vary from place to place.
As for casting one can make two broad groups that is brass castings and dhokra casting. Both follow the lost wax or cireperdue process. Brass casting is done by the Kansaris and items produced include icons-mainly Radha, Krishna, Laxmi, pot bellied Ganesha, Vishnu and crawling Krishna called Gurundi Gopal, bells or ghanti, lampstand or rukha and lamps or dipa. It is interesting to note that at present there is no bronze casting being done in Odisha (Formerly Orissa) although the craft seems to have reached great perfection centuries ago as evidenced for the discovery of a large number of bronze icons from Achutarajpur near Banapur in Puri District. Again no casting is done in bellmetal although this is quite common in South India. The socio-cultural links of its handicraft are very strong. According to well entrenched traditions the bride is presented with a set of brass and bell metal articles for starting off her new home, the quantity and quality varying according to the economic status of the family. While in the villages these are extensively used for eating and cooking, in the areas other materials like stainless steel, aluminum and ceramics have dislodged them. Nevertheless the brides, even in urban areas continue to get their set of brass and bell metal items in marriage. Of particular interest is the round deep bowl called Kansa in which 'pakhala' a typical dish of Odisha (Formerly Orissa), that is rice soaked in water and curd or torani or fermented gruel, is eaten. In the villages and in terms of the rural economy the articles also serve another useful purpose as they can be easily pawned for borrowing money. Besides, the old, broken and used items can always be exchanged at reduced rate for new items from itinerant metalware vendors. As for metal icons, while in most orthodox families these are installed as deities of the home, frequently placed on a brass platform called Khatuli, these area also used in some temples as the presiding deities. However, in all major temples almost invariably the moving image or the chalanti pratima of the presiding deities are brass icons. It is these icons which are taken out in various ritual processions and perform other mobile functions of the much larger and fixed principal. Of the major icons mention is to be made of the large brass image of Radha in the Sakhigopal temple in Puri district and similar images in temples in Ganjam district. Similarly the use of 'Ghanta' and 'ghanti' the bell and the gong are both important and indispensable for all ritual worships, particularly during arati and offering of food. During the Rath Yatra or Car Festival, hundreds of the gongs are beaten rhythmically by the devotees and priests in frenzied ecstasy as the divine chariots are pulled forward by the thronging millions. The manjira or gini, two circular cupped convex discs tied to strings and used for beating the rhythm and the ghunguroo or ankle bells tied in the feet of dancers are also products of this group of crafts and are in indication of their whereabouts. The sound of the cattle returning to the village after the day's garazing mixing their sweet bleatings with the jingle of the bells leaving a trail of dust cloud is a familiar scene of rural Odisha (Formerly Orissa).
Dhokra casting, a variety of metal casting is essentially a folk craft and is limited to a few pockets of Odisha (Formerly Orissa), that is Kuliana in Mayurbhanj district, Kaimatin Keonjhar district, Sadeiberni in Dhenkanal district and Haradagaria in Puri district being practiced by an aboriginal caste called sithulias. While the lost wax process is followed the raw materials used is not pure brass but contains miscellaneous scraps of other metals which give it is typically antique look. Its motifs are mostly drawn from flok culture. While among the animals, the elephant is most popular, the other motifs include human heads, kings, manas or miniature replica of measures, containers with lids, with or without locking devices, images of deities like Ganesh and Durga, and lamps and lampstands, the last being made in several intricate designs in shape of trees and branches with as many as a hundred lamps in one stand. Of late some utilitarian articles like candlestands, ash trays and penstands are also being made keeping the essential folk design intact. Dhokra is not exclusive to Odisha (Formerly Orissa) and is found in Bengal, Bihar and M.P. also but it is a very important handicrafts because of its more or less exclusive folk character. The third group of items under this handicraft , that can be described as residual consists mainly of the unique flexible brass items like the brass fish and snakes made by the craftsmen of Belguntha in Ganjam district.
Horn articles of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) are mystical and are blended with a superb fashion design. Their lively appearance, dynamism and animation vie with the real objects of nature - that spells the names of Parlakhemundi and Cuttack. Available in widest spectrum of items like combs, pen stands, cigar pipes, decorative figures - horn articles form a memorable memento for the near and dear ones at home.
Lacquer is the refuse of an insect gathered by the tribals in the forests. The Hindu women of Baleshwar and Nowrangpur districts mix it with colours and apply it on small cane boxes made by tribals, and terracotta figures which they make themselves. After several coats of lacquer have sealed the core, the surface is decorated with motifs borrowed from nature, geometric patterns and religious symbols. Although the visual power of colour and design combine to make an ornamental effect, the artisans are only just exploring the area of material, form and technique.
This skill has been creatively practised by craftspersons from all over Odisha (Formerly Orissa). Paper, waste cloth and different kinds of natural fibres are soaked and beaten into pulp, then mixed with a variety of seeds and gums for strength and as protection from termites. Special clays and bio-wastes are added for body and reinforcement. The enitre process results in a medium so malleable that it requirs little skill to be moulded into countless forms. However, despite its versatility this craft has remained neglected.
Of all the handicrafts of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) the most unique and the finest, in fact the queen among them, is silver filigree, locally called tarakasi. The craft is localised at Cuttack town and a few villages in Cuttack district. The process consists of drawing silver through a series of consecutively smaller holes to produce fine strands of wire. These wires are then made into various shapes by deft hands of the craftsmen by bending them into different designs and soldering them with pincer and scissors. Silver used by the artisans is usually of high purity often exceeding ninety per cent.
Items manufactured cover a wide range though they can be broadly divided into a few categories. First, we have the ornaments for the ladies which include necklaces, brooches, ear pendants, anklets, hair pins, decorative key rings and bangles etc. We also have a few ornamental items for men like tie pins and cufflinks. Next we have the decorative items like boats or boita, replicas of temples, horses, elephants and other animals and chariots besides a variety of other items. Lastly, we have utility items like plates, cups, bowls, glasses mascara containers, indigenous spoon called belas for feeding milk to young children, incense containers, vermilion containers and ladies handbags. Though the above lists are fairly comprehensive they do not indicate the myriad varieties one can find for each item.
The silver filigree and other silver items have, like other handicrafts, a very important socio-cultural function. The child's first solid food, usually a sweet dish of rice, kheer, is served in a silver bowl and the elder specially grand-parents take pride in presenting the silver bowl for this function known as anna prasana. Like brass and bell metal items the bride is also usually presented a set of silver dishes which is reserved for offering food to the deities during religious festivals. Many temples have a set of silver ornaments for the presiding deities including silver crowns which are used on ceremonial occasions. Silver filigree has been an important export items of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) from ancient times and has been a symbol of the dizzy heights of excellence reached by Odisha's (Formerly Orissa) craftsmen.
Stone carving is a very major handicraft of Odisha (Formerly Orissa). As is evident from the innumerable archaeological monuments, rock-cut sculptures, caves and temples built for centuries and embellished with most beautiful and intricately carved statue and other adornments, the art of carving in stone had reached in Odisha (Formerly Orissa) dizzy heights of excellence perfected through centuries of disciplined efforts of generations of artisans. The progeny of these artisans who built the magnificent temples of Parsurameswar, Mukteswar, Lingaraj, Puri and that wonder in stone, the temple chariot of the Sun God at Konark, besides the beautiful Stupas and monasteries of Lalitgiri Ratnagiri and Udayagiri have kept alive the sculptural traditions of their forefathers and their deft hands can and do chisel and carve exact replicas of the original temple sculptures besides producing a variety of other items.
Unlike sculptors of other places, the artisans of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) are at home with a variety of materials. They handle with equal facility the ultra soft white soap stone, or Khadipathara, as the slightly harder greenish chlorite or Kochilapathara and the still harder pinkish Khandolite or Sahanapathara or Baulapathara and the hardest of all black granite or mugunipathara.The tools they use are a few and simple and consist mainly of hammers and chisels of various shapes and sizes with such local names as muna, patili, martual, thuk-thuki and nihana. Whether the stone is hard or soft a sort of outline is first drawn on the stone which is already cut to the appropriate size. Once the outline is incised indicating the shape, the final figure is brought out by removing the unwanted portions. While for the harder stones this is done by chiseling out the extra material, with softer stones this is done by scraping out the same with a sharp flat-edged iron tool. As for the motifs, the endless variety of sculptures adorning the temples provide the models although other motifs are also not uncommon. Among the former the ubiquitous alasa Kanyas or indolent damsels and salabhanjikas, lady with the bough of a sal tree, surasundaris heavenly beauties playing on different musical instruments adorning the topmost tier of the Konark temple, the nava grahas or nine deities representing the nine planets, Konark wheel, Konark horse, elephant, lion composite mythical figures like 'Gajabidala', 'Gajasimha' are quite popular. Other motifs include representation of deities of the Hindu peantheon like Krishna and Radha, Laxmi, Vishnu, Durga, Budha, Ganesh, Haraparvati, Nrusingha etc. In recent times may decorative and utilitarian articles like ash trays, paperweights, candle stands bookrests are also being made. These carvers also make images for installation in temples as presiding deities and parswadevatas as well as large pieces for decoration of public places. One may find samples of these in the Handicrafts museum, Bhubaneswar, in the Parliament house annexe in Delhi, Konark horse in the Barabati Stadium at Cuttack and Konark wheel almost the same size as the original adorning the face of a modern Hotel at Bhubaneswar. Another giant Konark horse adorns the traffic island at a busy intersection in Bhubaneswar. The four colossal Buddha images and the friezes depicting the life of the Buddha and Ashoka in the modern shanti stupa at Dhauli are also the handiwork of Odisha's (Formerly Orissa) craftsmen.
The handicraft is practiced by artisans mainly at Puri, Bhubaneswar, and Lalitgiri in Cuttack district though some are also found in Khiching in Mayurbhanj District. The traditions are carried on from generation to generation and a few ancient texts on the art which have survived are followed closely. Apart from the decorative, votive articles and modern utilitarian items, the craft also covers another group of products in shape of stoneware utensils and kitchen wares. Following the simple process of turning and polishing by using a local wooden lathe called Kunda, the craftsmen produce beautiful polished plates (Thali), containers (gina, pathuri), cups and glasses. These are used for pujas, ritual worships as well for regular eating Pathuris, stone ware deep containers are particularly good for storing curd as they do not react to acid and these are also filled with water and used for placing the legs of wooden almirahs to prevent ants from getting in. The craftsmen making these articles are concentrated at Baulagadia and Nilgiri.
Of the sixty-two tribes inhabiting Odisha (Formerly Orissa), 12-15 tribes know the art of comb making. A distinct feature of Orissan Tribal Community is that whose who don't make comb, don't have to buy it. They can get it as a gift or in exchange of agricultural surplus from others.
Socio-economic conditions, religio-cultural beliefs and tradition, and tastes of tribes differ from community to community. One can find a variety of designs, crafts, colours, shapes, sizes and materials in the tribal combs. Inspite of these, similarity in comb may be found between two tribal communities in similar environments and socio-economic conditions, though their uses may be different. The comb and the community are inseparable and the tribal comb bears the emotions of its makers' expression of love, and its takers' acceptance of it. This can be elaborated through the variety in design and usage of the combs in the following tribes:
Ethnically though the Juangs are considered to be of Mundari group, yet they are very peculiarly original of Odisha (Formerly Orissa). Of all the Juang household commodities, comb is the most attractive and artistic. All their creative imagination and artistic skills are reflected in it. There are five major types of Juang combs. The common comb used by every Juang is for combing the hair. The second type is used as a gift or presentation item by the lovers, and also for combing and decorating their hair. The third category is used for daily combing of the hair. It is also used for taking out thorns from the body. With its possession they believe that they get moral courage to face an unforeseen danger. Another kind of comb is used by old men for magico-religious purposes. Raw materials used for these combs are split bamboo, wooden plates, cotton fabric, gum from a local shrub and iron knife. First, the root piece of the bamboo is cut into three pieces of three different sizes. Then these are made into comb plate and teeth. Cotton thread is weaved making various designs over it. They draw and engrave various figures over it, depicting their life and world at hand. Similarly they also make combs of various designs from wood.
The Santals are a Mundari speaking tribe inhabiting hilly regions of Mayurbanj, Balasore, and Keonjhar districts. The Santal comb is one of the commodities of their household which bears a great deal of socio-cultural importance in their life. But the irony is that Santalis usually do not makr their comb. Instead they get it free of cost or in exchange of the agricultural produce from the scheduled caste residents of their village. They do not use their comb as any kind of ornament. They only use it while combing or knotting their hair. There are nine types of Santali combs, all of which are very intricately carved and separately designed. They are: Nikharuncha, Nikharuncha pin, Small Nikharuncha, Munda Khila, Dui Munhian Fish Comb, Eka Munhian Fish Comb, Sada Nakiz, Dui Munhia, Eka Munhia. The Santal term for comb is Nakiz. The Nikharuncha comb is used to clear the house.
Dangaria Kandh Comb:
The Dangaria comb is called Kakua or Kakwa in local language. Only young boys make the combs. They usually gift it to their beloveds, who generally tuck them in their hair knots. The Dangarias use the ox and buffalo horns as the comb material. Females carry the comb tucked to their hair, while men tuck it to their loin cloth. The Dangarias don't trade their combs. Comb-making is an old tradition for them.
Kutia Kandh Comb:
The Kutias are descendants of the larger Kandh community. They use their comb, which is called Sireni in their own Kui language, in three different ways. (a) Jepur Katanga Sireni: Dhangedas make this comb with their heart and soul in it. When a newly married bride comes to her husband's village, they tuck the comb into her hair. Young boys in the community make the combs. (b) Todi Sireni: This comb is also made by the young boys of the village and is gifted to the brides, who further gifts it to the elderly men and women of her village. With this the residents of her village think that the relationship between the bride's and the bridegroom's village will be strong and everlasting. (c) Gamberi Sireni: Gamberi is circular in Kui language. This type of comb is half circular in shape. It is generally used by the elderly population of the Kutia society. These combs are big in size, making the combing easier. After making the comb, the Kutias preserve it for future by tucking it to their thatched roof over hearth or in any other place. When bidding farewell to the outgoing guests, they are very customarily given a comb as a present. While the male folk tuck it to the head of the male guest, the women folk hand it out to the accompanying female guest.
Desia Kandh Comb:
The Desia Kandhs use two types of combs, one made out of lac and the other out of bamboo or textile. Lac Siredi is local name given to the lac comb. This comb is of two shapes: quadrangular - used by the men, and circular ones - used by the women. Both, the male and the female members of the society take interest in making the combs. Matreials used in Lac Siredi are bamboo, cotton fabric, lac, earthern pot, iron knife and wooden plate. There is an interesting story about how Desias learnt to make the comb. Long before, there was a king in whose rule many people died of an unknown disease affecting their head. The king prayed Jakini Penu, a local god, and offered a buffalo for his satisfaction. Jakini Penu advised the king to make comb out of bamboo and fabric of sago palm and comb his hair regularly with it. Since then the comb has been used in the community.
The Duruas use a variety of combs. Among them some are worth mentioning. These are: (a)Gapa Patul: Theses are very small in size and are intricately carved on its plate. Young Durua boys make them to gift to their Baliphulas - girl friends, when they both meet and promise themselves to each other. (b)Kakel: This is a square comb of three inches, intricately carved, with design similar to Gapa Patul, and is also used as a gift item. (c)Tiri Murt: This comb is made out of 30-40 bamboo sticks, which are big in size and are used by the family. (d)Churu Bandi: These are presented to the younger sisters. The Duruas do not sell their combs as they feel that if they do so, they will be cursed by a supernatural power.
The Koyas constitute the principal tribe of the Malkangiri district. The Koya women wear a necklace called Isad made of small, mini combs strung together in a cotton thread. While the women use the combs as Isad Mal, Vaids or Sorcers use it as a medium material to harm or do good to a target. The comb used by the latter are a little long which they always keep with them, tucked in their loin cloth. Before invocating spirit to the comb, they worship it and chant some hymns to it. The raw material for the Koya comb are commonly available bamboo and sapo palm fabric.
Lanjia Saora Comb:
The Lanjia Saoras have a great potential in crafting also. Among their craft material Arasai (local name for comb) is most noteworthy. They generally make two types of combs, both for the purpose of combing the hair. Taking bamboo and wood as the raw material, they carve and craft beautiful images on it. The Lajia Saoras do not sell their combs, neither do they buy it from others. The young saoras gift it to the girl of their choice.
Wood carving is another important handicraft of Odisha (Formerly Orissa). This again can be broadly grouped into three sub-groups-painted wood carvings, plain wood carvings and wood turned items. In the first group we have painted wooden toys of Puri and Bargarh masks, and idols and chariot decorations. Usually light varieties of wood are preferred and vegetable and mineral colours are used. The art is mostly practiced by the carpenter caste who have the title Moharana. They use the simple carpentry tools like hammer, chisel etc. The motifs include various stylized animals and birds like horse, bull, elephant, lion, tiger, peacock and Nabagunjara etc., Radha and Krishna and sakhis and most popular of all, the three deities of the Puri temple-Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. There are also excellent painted wooden doors with panels depicting various scenes from Krisna's life, Ramayana and other stories. Various wooden masks with a hollow back are also painted representing stylized human faces. The three chariots of the Puri car festival are profusely decorated with wooden images depicting various deities as parswadevatas. Image of the Sarathi or the charioteer and the horses attached in front are also made by wood carvers of Puri. Similar items are also attached to the chariot of Lingaraj during Asokastami at Bhubaneswar. One can also find an interesting wooden painted image of Brahma in the Lingaraj temple immediately to the right of the entrance. Images of Radha, Krishna and sakhis as well as other decorative items made by wood carvers are attached to the Kunjas or ceremonial swings for the spring festival called dola. This shows the close links of the craft of wood carving to the cultural and religious traditions of the State. The plain wood carvings are mostly done on a soft creamish wood called gambhari or white teak. While the features in the painted wood carvings are usually less defined and blunt, those in the plain carvings in gambhari are not only sharp and fine but attain exquisite needly work finish and are more akin to the workmanship of the sculptors. Well proportioned and finished to great smoothness these items are fit for a connoisseur's including Konark wheel besides other items based on myths, legends and folklore. Indolent damsels, Krishna, Radha, skhis, Hara Parvati. Konark horse, Konark elephant are popular but the scene from Mahabharata depicting Krishna teaching Arjuna the tenets of the Gita when the latter shies away from the battle, with the grand chariot with its divine charioteer and the valiant rider depicted by the wood carver is most captivating. This variety of wood carving is mostly practiced in Cuttack town though a few craftsmen are also found at Bhubaneswar and Puri. Wood turned articles using the creamish gambhari and the harder and darker sisu or rose wood is a specialty of the artisans from Daspalla area in Puri district. Popular items are small pitchers with mango leaves and coconut, glass, bowls, and incense stands. It is interesting to note that although the process of wood turning with small hand operated wooden lathe is also used else where in India, the Odisha (Formerly Orissa) artisans prefer to leave the surface plain and they do not lacquer it like the famous toy makers of Chennapatna in Karnataka. Samples of the excellence of the wood carvers of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) can be found in temple ceilings and carved wooden beams and doors in places like Birnchinarayan temple, Buguda, Charchika temple, Banki, Siva temple, Kapilas, and Laxmi-Nrusingha temple Berhampur.
Ikat-that gloriously woven, blurry edged. Gem-coloured design, in gorgeous yarn of silk and cotton has become synonymous with Odisha (Formerly Orissa). Speaking eloquently of its old maritime linkages with Bali, the Ikat tradition of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) is the intricate process of Tie and Dye i.e. knotting selections of yarn before dipping them in separate colours one at a time and finally weaving them to produce one of the most delightful designs in multi-hued tones, in motifs drawn from the richness of nature, in threads both silken and gold. The double-ikat designs from Sambalpur are great buys as are the gold embroidered ones from Sonepur. The Bomkai ikats have motifs drawn from the Shakti Cult.
Tusser silk - produced from non-mulberry silk fabric is the famous nubby hand-reeled fabric in nature tones.