Odisha' is famous for her handicrafts which exhibit the skill and creativity of her artisans. Her brass work, silver work, terracotta art objects, and applique work are unique examples of artistic excellence.
Brass & Bell Metal Ware
The fine engravings on brass and bellmetal utensils, bronze bangles and pots are important aspects of Odisha art. Artefacts made of metal, particolarly brass, find pride of place in the homes of Odisha. Beautiful lamps and lamp-stands are used during the worship of deities. Rice-measuring bowls made of brass are used in many homes. The artisans also make elephants and horses from brass and decorate them with intricate designs. Containers of brass for betel-chewers are designed both to be useful and ornamental. There are household articles and utensils made out of brass and bell metal and they are of different shapes and sizes. The brassware of Odisha reveals the high workmanship of the artisans and their flair for innovation.
Silver ware and Filigree Work
Silverware of Odisha is very widely known. Her Filigree works particularly are unique examples of artistic excellence rarely to be seen in any other part of India. Silver wires, extremely delicate, are shaped into intricate designs. Forms of animals and birds, articles of daily use like vermilion receptacles are also made out of silver wires- Filigree ornaments, especially brooches and earrings are very popular among Indian women. Cuttack is world famouS for Ciligree work. Scenes from the Mahabharat are sometimes depicted in silver in particular interest is the chariot of Arjuna driven by Lord Krishna done in silver. One feels amazed is see the skill with which minute details of the chariot wheels have been worked. The beauty of the chariot, the proud stance of the horses and the true-to-hi figures, all contribute to the over-all majesty of the silver art efact.
Terracotta and Pottery
Potters of Odisha still make earthen pots to be used in various religious and social functions. They are made in various shapes and sizes and are adorned with fish and flower motifs and geometrical designs. Horses and elephants in terracotta are made to meet local demands during religious occasions. These are offered to the village-goddess (grama-devati) to ward off disease and danger. In size they range from six inches to three feet. The potter also makes clay toys and simple and appealing figures of human beings. They catch the essential characteristics of real-life creatures. Terracotta toys are made in every pan of Odisha. The toys are simple in design and bear the traits of the locality in which they are produced.
Golden Grass and Cane Works
Baskets, handfans and tablemats are woven from golden grass by the female folk. Floormats are also woven out of golden grass which is a local product, Today the demand for these goods has increased and this testifies to their beauty, utility and lasting quality. Cane is used for weaving baskets and several items of furniture.
Tailors at Pipli execute applique works, which are in great demand. Giant-sized umbrellas of applique work are produced for use on festive occasions. Also used as garden umbrellas in sprawling lawns, they lend grace and colour to any gathering. Heart-shaped fans, big and smau canopies and wall-hangings are also prepared out of applique work. The tailors cut out figures of animals, birds, flowers as well as geometrical shapes out of richly coloured cloth and these are arranged symmetrically on another piece of cloth and sewn in place to produce an eye-catching design. The rich splashes of yellow, white, green, blue, red and black colours dazzle the eyes of the onlookers and set the festive mood. Bags of various shapes and sizes are also made with applique motifs. Applique chharis (umbrellas) and "tarasas" (heart-shaped wooden structures covered with applique work and supported on pikes) are used to lend colour to religious processions. Large applique canopies are an integral part of marriage celebrations. In temples, canopies are hung over the deities to protect them from falling dirt.
There are artisans in Odisha who are dexterous in providing articles of daily use like combs, flower vases and pen-stands out of the horn of cattle. The horn is polished smooth, and then shaped into various Corms. Cranes, lobsters, scorpions and birds made of horn are finished to a nicety. Their surface throws off a dark somber sheen and the catch the attention of all art-lovers.
Sarees and other Fabrics
Perhaps the most popular item in Odisha handicrafts iss the handloom saree. The saressc come in a variety of designs and colours to suit every taste and pocket. Generally the villagers in Sambalpur district weave the sarees on looms in the private or corporate sectors. Sambalpuri cotton saris have a smooth finish and have a distinctly original border and pallu. Fish, conch shell and flower motifs are woven into the fabric. Sometimes animal motifs are also used to decorate the borders and pallu. Silk sans are also produced by village craftsmen from local raw materials. Khandua Pata saris have elaborate designs and a gloss which is attractive. Bapta saris have cotton and silk threads in warp and woof. Berhampori Pata saris are worn by orthodox and modern women alike. The saris are named after the places where they are produced, the quality of skeins used and the nature of the designs woven into them. Hand woven bed sheets, bed covers, table cloths, curtains and dress materials of Odisha are equally popular throughout the country.
Stone & Wood Carvings
Stone carving is an age-old craft of Odisha. The descendants of the artisans who once scaled the dizzy heights of excellence in temple building have kept the sculptural tradition alive through their hereditary craft of stone carving. The carved products include replicas of temples, images of gods and goddesses, the Konark wheel and horse, and decorative figurines like alasa kanya (the indolent damsel) salabhanjika (lady leaning against a sal branch), surasundari (heavenly. beauty), lekhika (lady writing a letter), etc. which are popular items of household decoration. Wood carvings of Odisha are almost equally popular. They differ from the artifacts of other states in so far as they are plain and shining with smooth polish and without any paint or coating of lacquer work on them.Apart Odisha has many other items of handicraft such as paper mache, sola pith work, lacquer work, zari work, glass beads, cloth garlands, camphor garlands, jute carpets, rush mate, and above all the, sea shell works undertaken in Puri and Gopalpur.