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Arts And Crafts

In Karnataka, as in the rest of India, a very thin line divides 'art' and 'craft'. And this is evident in every home in the state where even the common articles of daily use, including an earthen pot, resemble a work of art.

Karnataka has come to occupy pride of place in the country in the field of woodcarving. The state's relatively good forest cover provides enough raw materials for its craftsmen who continue to employ age-old techniques to carve, inlay, veneer, paint and lacquer articles in wood.

Ivory carving was yet another popular craft in Karnataka. In the recent years, however because of the ban imposed on ivory trade, the craft has received a setback.

Metalwork is yet another craft that engages many families. Metalwork in Karnataka has a rich and ancient tradition and the objects serve both religious and secular needs. The temple town of Udupi is famous for its small images and ritual objects, while Karkala, an ancient Jain centre, is well known for its Jain icons.

Karnataka has a village called Shivarapattana in Kolar district, where every fourth house is a sculptor's studio. The stone carvers are skilled craftsmen, and like the marble fabricators of Jaipur in Rajasthan, belong to a clan of stone carvers and feel proud that they belong to a long line of hereditary sculptors.

The very mention of Mysore spells the fragrance of sandalwood. Sandalwood is used extensively to produce fascinating art pieces. The range of objects and designs are varied and the gudigar families of Shimoga, Uttar Kannada and Mysore districts specialize in this craft.

Bidar in north Karnataka, closer to Hyderabad than Bangalore, is a famous centre for bidriware - a well-developed craft, which uses a metal plate of an alloy, made of zinc, copper, tin and lead. Bidriware includes articles like ornamental jugs, bowls, plates, pen holders, candle sticks and knives.

'Mysore silk' is famous and Karnataka has contributed a great deal to the progress of India's silk industry. It has also helped the country to overtake Japan, after China, in the production of mulberry silk.

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