Maharashtra has a rich cultural heritage, which is an amalgamation of different cultures and traditions. The state exudes a vibrant spirit which never dies. This spirit is visible in its traditional arts and crafts. The cave paintings at Ajanta, Warli paintings and handicrafts of Maharashtra are clear evidences of the state's cultural legacy. These beyond comparison arts and crafts of Maharashtra are enticing and exotic.
Sawantwadi is famous for the craft of lacquer ware, which was introduced here around the end of the 17th century. Various schools teaching this craft were started in Sawantwadi during the 18th and the 19th centuries. Many of the artisans were moved from nearby Goa. The Sawantwadi lacquer ware is now available in a wide range of products and concentrates on traditional hand painted and lacquered furniture and light fittings.
Bidri ware is an ancient craft of Aurangabad, which uses zinc and copper as raw material. It also employs the intricate workmanship of pure silver, either brocaded, overlaid or inlaid on the metal surface. In the beginning, Bidri ware items were used as hookahs or paan daans, but now they are more often sold as souvenirs.
The hand made leather sandals or chappals of Kolhapur are famous all over the world. They are popular for their simple styles and comfort. The cost of the these sandals and chappals may differ depending upon the quality of leather and designs used. They are definitely worth buying.
Maharashtra is also known for its strong textile history. There are different types of saris or materials available belonging to a particular area or region of the state, such as Kolhapur, Pune and Paithan, Aurangabad.
Mashru and Himru
Aurangabad is famous for Mashru and Himru fabrics. These two types of fabrics are made of cotton and silk having a shine like satin. Himru shawls are less expensive and are made by using both silk and cotton threads. These threads help in producing beautiful multi-colored designs on these shawls. The actual ornamental design is formed on the principle of extra weft figuring. The extra silk weft left loose makes the Himru shawl soft, which almost feels like silk. Weavers were brought to Aurangabad from Banaras and Ahmedabad by Mohamed-bin-Tughlak and thus the Himru industry started.
The Paithani Saris are being woven from the past 2000 years old. In the making of a Paithani sari pure silk is used along with the zari or gold threads drawn from pure gold. It takes almost six months to one and a half years to weave an intricately brocaded Paithani sari.
The Narayan Peth sari is a traditional Maharashtrian sari, belonging to Sholapur. This is a beautifully woven sari in silk having contrast zari border, generally of 'rudraksha' motifs.
The paintings in Ajanta Caves are outstandingly beautiful, they belong to the diffused art style of China & Japan. The Ajanta paintings were painted by the Buddhist Monks who turned the stone walls into picture books of Buddha's life & teachings. These Buddhist artists have portrayed the costumes, ornaments & styles of the court life of their times.
The Warlis style of paintings belong to the tribal people who live in the Thane district, situated in north of Mumbai. These paintings are a part of their tradition and are painted by the women folk during wedding rituals, using rice paste and straw. After the painting is complete it is smeared on the walls of their huts. Now, these paintings are also done on paper and is available almost everywhere in India. The Warli paintings are made on religious themes. They are painted in white on an austere brown surface decorated with occasional dots in red and yellow. Men, animals and trees form a loose, rhythmic pattern across the entire sheet of a Warli painting.