Climate and Geography
Maximum Temperature during May-June is 48°C, Minimum Temperature during January is 23°C, Rainfall - 26-54 mm
Geographical Location : Uttar Pradesh is bounded on the north by Nepal and Tibet and, in India, by Himachal Pradesh on the northwest, Haryana state and the union territory of Delhi on the west, Rajasthan state on the southwest, Madhya Pradesh state on the south, and Bihar on the east.
Crafts of Uttar Pardesh : The land of supreme art and superior artisans, Uttar Pradesh, has to its name some of the most renowned art-tradition centers of India. Patronized by the great Moghul emperors- Akbar, Shah Jahan, Farrukhsiyar and Dara Sikoh- art forms still continue to be pedestalised in the state. They promoted various art traditions at the time of their reign which were carried forward to the next generation by the Nawabs of Awadh. This is why every town, small or big, is known for one or the other craft here and the same tradition is found in Benaras as well as Agra.
The Zari works, done on different items such as drapes, textiles and artifacts, have brought fame to Varanasi or Benaras. The Zari done on sarees stand prominent among all others thereby making them one among the most frequently shopped items. Chikankari, embroidery on Muslin, is yet another masterpiece of the artists of Uttar Pradesh. It took its shape in the courts of the Nawabs and so Lucknow continues to be the centre of this. On the other hand, Agra is famous for another complex variety of embroidery known as Zardozi which is 3-dimensional in pattern.
Distinct brassware with massive decorative patterns is to be found in Moradabad which is famous for its brasswares so much so that it’s called ‘the City of Brass’. The city is famous world-wide for its busts and miniatures. The marble artifacts of Agra too do not lag behind in its fame and are a major export item. The miniature replicas of the Taj Mahal and the inlay works done here are demanded in countries across boundaries. Firozabad, for the manufacture of bangles, has become synonymous to the same but is also known for its glassware such as chandeliers and cutleries.
Bhadohi, near Benaras, has under its name some of the finest silk carpets all over South Asia. The Persian patterns on them are an addition to its glory and are a major export item. The Hand Printed items found in Farrukhabad are famous too. The twin patterns of ‘Polka Dots’ and ‘Tree Wisdom’,upon which these printings are done, are a craze among the Europeans.
Farrukhabad Hand Printing : Hand Printing forms the core of Indian ancient craft. Most of its major centers are to be found in Uttar Pradesh encompassing the places like Benaras, Lucknow, Farrukhabad and Pilakhua.
Farrukhabad, often regarded a synonym to Hand Printing, serves as an authentic showroom for the traditional patterns in the same. An extravagant array of designs and patterns of these hand printing forms, from the “Polka Dots” (Butis) to the “Tree of Life”, is what Uttar Pradesh has in its lap all intact in their harmony and distinctive influence. The dim backgrounds on which the Butis, smeared in solid colours, are worked make them all the more enticing. Mango, widely known as the ‘Paisley’ in the West, is made in variety of forms and shapes and is used in medium, bold and even designs.
With the fast-paced growth of machine based printing, this ancient type has fallen into acute financial crunch. Owing to illiteracy, the artisans don’t find themselves capable enough to compete with the bigger figures in the market.
Carpet Weaving : Be it quality or price wise, Indian carpets are worth paying the money. The need for good quality hand-knitted carpets led to the establishment of carpet-weaving centers in Lahore and Agra by Akbar, the Mughal emperor. These carpets continue to flock in the markets of Agra being a major tourist destination.
The main centers for carpet-weaving were set up in the 17th century by a Persian master weaver in Mirzapur, Bhadoi and Varanasi. The Handmade carpets, prayer mats and rugs have seeped into Arabian and American mansions now.
Agra, being one of the oldest carpet hubs of the Mughal period, specializes in the making of the traditional as well as innovative designs. The weavers follow the “calling out” system in which the master weaver keeps telling the other ones which colours are to be used in each knot while he himself follows the design. The Indo-Ispahan and the Indo-Kashan, the former with the long leaf and the latter with a smaller leaf and a flower, are the two varieties of Oriental carpets.
Chikankari : Chikankari, is a type of fine embroidery, which can be seen on the shadow-work sarees, veils and kurtas, in vogue during the summers. It was found long time back and still cannot be considered to be out of fashion. The prices largely depend upon the quality of the material and the finesse of the work.
Women are found clad in their light chikan sarees and men in their elegant chikan kurtas during summers. Household and table linen in pale and white pastel muslin, voile and organdy are also one of the best buys here.
The Nawab were the trend setters of those times. As a very famous legend goes, a courtesan in the harem of the Nawab of Awadh was a master of this art work and the Nawab, impressed by her work, started a workshop where such embroidery could be developed further. The Zamindars and other nobles, humbler to them, used to imitate them in every way.
Thus the reign of the Nawabs proved to be an impressive booster for Chikankari. Not only the Nawabi culture came to be identified with the refined embroidery on muslin, called Chikankari, but it also gradually seeped into the masses and became a part of their lives.
The Mughals being the source of Chikankari design motifs, the same can be found in the Mughal monuments like the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri. The stitches used in the embroidery vary as the material of the cloth and the designs differ. The most frequent stitch among them is the Satin stitch, a very delicate and minute one.