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Chamba - WoodCarving

Himachal is the one of those few areas in India, where wood has played a significant role as a structural material. Pine, Cedrus deodara, walnut, horse chestnut and wild black mulberry are found in abundance in Himachal Pradesh. Places famous for woodcraft are Chamba, Tisza, Kalpa, Kinnaur district and Kullu. Village homes are constructed with carvings on doors, windows, balconypanels etc. This can be found in remote areas of the state especially in Kinnaur district and Kullu districts. 

Wood craft has been an integral part of the rich tradition of handicrafts in Himachal Pradesh (India). The availability of a wide variety of wood enabled the flourishing of several distinctive wood crafts and styles. Carving, inlay with copper and brass wires, painting, lacquering, appliqué, and marquetry are some of the unique wood craft forms that have been prevalent in the country for centuries. The use of wood craft in architecture such as carved wooden doors, columns, balconies/jharokas, ceilings, etc was an integral part of the cultural life in ancient and medieval India.

Each region had a distinctive style depending on the availability of local raw materials and local traditions prevalent. It is believed that wood craft received great patronage under the Vijayanagar empire in Southern India. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala had rich traditions of wood carving especially evident in temples. Chariots for carrying deities during festive occasions, religious figurines, and temple structures were carved in wood, sandalwood being the most popular. Assam with its dense forests has been equally popular for its wood carving.

Gujarat and Rajasthan have also been representative of exquisite wood work. Palaces and havelis with intricate carved and painting work are examples. Elements of Islamic culture are noticeable in intricate lattice or jaali work and floral motifs. Barmer, Jodhpur, Kishangarh, and Rampur are known for their distinctive styles of wood furniture making. Uttar Pradesh has been another important center for wood craft with Saharanpur, Nagina, and Mainpuri specializing in carved and inlay work, the latter introduced through Islamic influence. Artisans engaged in wood inlay with metal wires in UP were earlier working with metal craft. Kashmir has been well known for its excellence in walnut carving. 

The legacy of wood craft traditions can be seen today in traditional Kashmiri houses with overhanging balconies that are enclosed in fine lattice work called acche-dar and azli-pinjra.Besides these well-known examples, wood craft has been practiced in almost all regions of the country. Paper thin bowls for Jain monks are made out of rohida wood in Pali district of Rajasthan.

The hill regions of Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal show skilled craftsmanship in wood craft with intricate etchings on pillars and doors. Wooden boxes for storing grains and bowls are other examples from these regions.The erstwhile rulers patronized wood craft in architecture. The tradition has become almost extinct now. Today craftsmen are engaged in making furniture, products for everyday use, toys, and decorative items that are in demand in the market.

Although largely unpopular, Himachal Pradesh still has a vivid tradition of wood Carving. Complex jalis, and other things are mastered by the Pahari artist who use them in the buildings and houses which advocate privacy while allowing light to enter and create different patterns and different hours. In towns and villages, Carpenter work day and night to craft out fine and useful products like cradles, bedsteads, low settees, rolling pins,  boxes, ladles, churners, wooden utensils etc. Their indigenous variety of fruit bowls, wooden jewellery, decorative boxes and carved images are some of the things that are famous nationally. The Willow and Bamboo are also creatively stripped and made trays.