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Arts of Himachal Pradesh

The various art forms of Himachal Pradesh reflect its rich culture and heritage. The people in this state preserve their traditional and social art forms through paintings, architecture, dance and music.

An amalgamation of various cultures in Himachal Pradesh gives tourists a chance to explore its ethnic diversity. There is a strong Tibetan influence in the visual and performing arts in regions like Lahaul and Spiti, where most of the people are Buddhist. In Himachal Pradesh, music and dance form an integral part of celebrating any social occasion.

Music in Himachal Pradesh

Folk music and dance make religious festivals and social gatherings special. Religion has a strong influence on the people of Himachal Pradesh. During weddings, Ainchaliyan is played at the bride's house. It is a form of religious folk song that is mostly vocal and sung without any musical accompaniment. In temples, devotees sing Karak songs in honor of the deities.

There are also ritual folk songs like Dholru and Soohadiyan. The women sing Soohadiyan to celebrate childbirth. Dholru is a seasonal song popular among the farmers during the harvest season. The popular love songs of Jhoori, Mohana and Gangi speak volumes about the changing culture of Himachal Pradesh. These songs are a blend of the traditional and modern.

Another striking feature of these love songs is the extensive use of musical instruments such as the drums, nagara and shehnai. Apart from these, musicians also use string and wind instruments. Traveling musicians in Chamba play the tambourine.

Dances of Himachal Pradesh

  • Dance is an indispensable part of social life in Himachal Pradesh. The regional dance forms make this state unique for tourists who are eager to explore its art and culture. Kullu, Kinnaur, Chamba, Lahaul Spiti and Sirmaur have performances on every special occasion.
  • The Kinnauris perform the Kinnaur dance form during the Tibetan New Year. They also welcome the autumn season with Namagen.
  • Chamba has the legendary Dangi dance performed in the Chhatrari village. Sikri performances during the Suhai Fair every year attract tourists.
  • The specialty of the Sirmaur dance lies in its Gee Dance performed during the festival of Lohri. There is a unique custom of only girls born in the village participating in the dance troop. Women who have come to Sirmaur from other parts of the country after marriage cannot take part.
  • Nati is performed in 13 different styles, mostly in Kullu district.

Other prominent dance forms in Himachal Pradesh are:

  • Mala Dance
  • Demon Dance
  • Dalshone and Cholamba Dances
  • Nagas Kayang
  • Jataru Kayang
  • Shan and Shabu Dances

Paintings of Himachal Pradesh

The miniature paintings of Himachal Pradesh have received praise from domestic and global tourists. Popularly known as Pahari painting, it depicts the lives of Radha and Krishna. In its contemporary form, these miniature paintings also depict the flora and fauna of the state. Local artists also preserve the famous Kangra and Chamba School of Painting, as well as, the Buddhist Gompa style.

Handloom of Himachal Pradesh

There are Central Asian and Rajputana influences in the handloom of Himachal Pradesh. The Tibetan refugees have also brought in their culture to the state. You can buy Tibetan handloom from the Tibetan markets in Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala and McLeodganj. Check out the timeless thangkas (embroidered and painted silk canvases).

Handloom Products - Shawls, woolen garments, carpets, blankets, caps, handkerchiefs and bed sheets

Raw Materials - Wool is obtained from migratory mountain goats, angora rabbits, and sheep bred in farms in Kinnaur, Chamba, Mandi and Hamirpur districts. Fine oak tasar and mulberry silk are obtained from silk farms in Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kangra, Sirmaur and Una districts. Chemical and vegetable dyes are used to dye threads in various colors.

Interesting feature - The Chamba rumal (handkerchief) embroidery on silk and muslin is an interesting feature of Himachali craft. Designs depict the lives of Hindu gods such as Krishna and Shiva. The rumal is traditionally used during weddings. What is most interesting is that you will not find any knots in the satin embroidery.

Woodwork of Himachal Pradesh

The people of Himachal Pradesh are involved in both basketry and woodwork. Their carved designs are Rajasthani in style with Mughal influences. You can buy them in Lakkar Bazaar at Shimla. If you go to any of the Tibetan markets you will find Tibetan style woodwork.

Wooden Products - Baskets, trays, utensils, boxes, sticks, toys and statues

Raw Materials - Wood from pine, birch, mulberry, horse chestnut and walnut trees are used. Additionally, bamboo stem and leaves are used for weaving baskets, trays and other household products.

Interesting feature - You can see artistic carvings on the wooden doors and walls of temples and monuments in Himachal Pradesh. Check out Viceregal Lodge in Shimla, Chini Vishnu temple in Kalpa and other temples in Shimla, Kinnaur, Chamba, Sarahan and Brahmaur.

Metal work of Himachal Pradesh

The museums in Dharamshala, Shimla and Chamba display a wide range of ancient metal work of Himachal Pradesh. You will find a Tibetan influence in the metal statues and a Rajput influence in the jewelry designs.

Metal Products - Tea pots, bowls, door knobs, statues, lamps, musical instruments, smoking pipes and jewelry

Raw materials - Copper, brass, bell metal, tin, iron, silver and gold

Interesting feature - The metal jewelry of Himachal Pradesh is in demand worldwide.

Leather and stone work are other crafts of Himachal Pradesh.