India arts and crafts
India arts and crafts



By Sylvie Berthiaume

Skillfull, abundant and cheap labor, national, international and tourist incredible markets, rich raw materials and bustling creativity... Rajasthan has everything to make you dream when it comes to jewelry, clothing and interior design.

Blue: On tables, walls, floors, etc.

Its name is official: Blue pottery of Jaipur. Although the origins of this faience date back to the 14th century, it has made its way in India, up to Jaipur to be formally adopted and developed to a very high level of quality and in a variety of uses and designs.

Its features are its delicacy and the purity of its color, due to the fact that it contains no earth. It is in effect mainly composed of glass and quartz dust. Almost always entirely dark blue (like Indigo) and sometimes pale blue, we see today a few itemens to which were added yellow and green.

The patterns may be strictly geometrical shapes, but also flowers or animals representations.

Traditionally, Jaipur Blue is found on tiles, vases, plates and door handles, but today, it extends its range of articles to bathroom sets, towel knots, decorative hooks, lamp bases, coasters, etc.

It is very difficult to avoid purchasing this really typical art of Rajasthan. Celebrities such as the Clintons and Richard Gere could not resist either.


Gemstones: To finger, wrist, neck

India, and Jaipur, really are renowned for their precious gems  - diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald - and semi-precious - at least 35 kinds. There was an eloquent demonstration of this statement when we visited the Taj Mahal and other Maharajas’ palaces where walls are inlaid.

You can buy such gems for their therapeutic virtues when touching the skin - positive energy, abundance, inner peace, etc. - or to wear them as jewelry, especially mounted on silver, Indian or western style.

Your guide or driver will surely know the places where to take you to buy the gems. If he takes you there without your request, don’t be shy and tell politely to the jeweler as soon as you enter the shop, that you do not want to buy anything, but just wish to visit for the discovery and to take nice photos.

To avoid false gems, it is advisable to go at a professional jewelry shop. This does not mean that the stalls in the markets or shops for tourists sell necessarily the false, but one better be careful.

Silk and gilding: From head to toe

What a marvel to see in all the fabrics shops, a dozen women seated on the floor covered by an amazing carpet, examining the meters of fabric which overfly their heads and circulate between them when deployed by the shopkeepers.

And this becomes even more wonderful when we see Indian women walk with their hyper-colored saris decorated with golden ribbons and cleverly wrapped around them.

The lightness of the fabrics and their infinite combinations multiply the state of grace in which they are wearing them, and ours to watch.

Miniature: The paintings

In Rajasthan, there is a long tradition of miniature painting on paper or on silk. You can buy them already painted, or from artists painting them before us, in shops on the street or in those of the visited palaces. The prices are really to negotiate, after checking and comparing them at different locations.

Batiks and embroidery: As an erupting volcano

Stacked, spread or suspended, the Indian woven fabrics, printed with hand-carved wood stamps or inlaid with mirrors and sequins, are ubiquitous.

This is true everywhere in India, but in Pushkar, there is also big enthusiasm shown for the patchwork style Banjara bags. Very difficult to make a choice, without spending hours to observe dozens of articles. 

This shopping is a highly memorable experience in the streets, but also sometimes in the cozy atmosphere of an immense shop’s second floor, where vendors are deploying before you dozens of bed covers, or even of the great silk scarves ordered by the most famous luxury European designers.

Here too, it must be said politely when entering the shop that you d not want to buy, otherwise they will keep you captive during hours… and of course, you will certainly come out with a huge bag or with an international postal delivery ticket. 

It is recommended to figure out in advance the space required for your purchase in your suitcase and its weight, before checking in at the airport, otherwise the overweight cost may be very spicy... like Indian cuisine.