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Odisha Shopping

What an astonishing variety!

Odisha, the eastern Indian state of exotic natural beauty also offers its tourists an amazing array of both traditional and modern gifts and souvenirs. You can actually shop till you drop, whilst in Odisha!

Odishas Handloom weavers are world famous for their dexterity and skill. This form of textile weaving has endured generations and saris of  Odisha  today a hallmark of ensemble of hand-woven saris of India. The sari is the traditional attire worn by women almost all over India. Stellar examples of such handloom gems are the Sambalpuri (from Sambalpur, Sonepur etc.).

Ikat- that gloriously woven, blurry edged, Gem-colored design, in gorgeous yarn of silk and cotton has become synonymous with Odisha. Speaking eloquently of its old maritime linkages with Bali, the Ikat tradition of Odisha is the intricate process of Tie and Dye i.e. knotting selections of yarn before dipping them in separate colors one at a time and finally weaving them to produce one of the most delightful designs in multi-hued tones, in motifs drawn from the richness of nature, in threads both silken and gold. The double-ikat designs from Sambalpur are great buys. The Bomkai ikats have motifs drawn from the Shakti Cult. Tusser silk - produced from non-mulberry silk fabric is the famous hand-reeled fabric in nature tones.

A visit to Odisha will leave you spoilt for choice. Indeed, the sheer variety of gifts and collectibles for all occasions is sure to make any visitor beam with joy. Appliqué Art from Pipili is perhaps the brand ambassador of Odishas cottage industry. Handmade appliqué articles include garden umbrellas, fancy umbrellas, wall hangings, handbags,  letter holders and lampshades. They all certainly add a dash of brightness and color to any room or home and they also make excellent gift items.

Among the more popular appliqué items today are garden umbrellas, a variant of chhati with wooden or aluminium stands, shoulder bags, ladies hand bags, wall hangings, lamp shades, bed covers, pillow covers, letter pouches, etc. Appliqué items are also being used in combination with other handicrafts to produce composite products. An interesting use is the superimposition of appliqué on grass mats and used as room partitions. Though earlier the art form was restricted to darji caste, today it is practiced by non-caste members. Unlike many other handicrafts, appliqué items are attractive artifacts of daily use apart from being decorative.

Dhokra or Brass and Bell Metal craft is Odishas single most important metal craft in terms of the number of artisans engaged in its practice. The craft is practiced by the people of the Kansari caste while a particular variety, 'dhokra', is a specialty of the Sithulias. Dhokra casting, a type of metal casting is a folk craft limited to a few sectors of Odisha. The symbolic motifs are inspired by the states folk culture. From the animal kingdom, the elephant is the most loved, the other motifs being those of human heads, kings, miniature pots and urns, images of deities like Ganesha and Durga and lamps (diyas); the last named being depicted in many intricate designs up to a hundred lamps perched on a single lamp stand. Dhokra is in fact a variety of metal casting is essentially a folk craft and is limited to a few pockets of Odisha that is Kuliana in Mayurbhanj district, Kaimati in Keonjhar district, Sadeiberini in Dhenkanal district and Haradagaria in Puri district being practiced by an aboriginal caste called sithulias. While the lost wax process is followed the raw materials used is not pure brass but contains miscellaneous scraps of other metals which give it is typically antique look. Its motifs are mostly drawn from folk culture.

Wood carved statues are another specialty of Odishas handicrafts. Craftsmen dexterously carve out beautiful statues from light colored wood. One can choose from an amazing array of such wood figurines which include animals, (elephants, tigers, deer) birds, and religious deities such as those of Lord Ganesha. Wood turned articles using the creamish gambhari and the harder and darker sisu or rose wood is a specialty of the artisans from Daspalla area in Nayagarh district. Popular items are small pitchers with mango leaves and coconut, glass, bowls, and incense stands. It is interesting to note that although the process of wood turning with small hand operated wooden lathe is also used else where in India, the Odisha artisans prefer to leave the surface plain and they do not lacquer it like the famous toy makers of Chennapatna in Karnataka. Samples of the excellence of the wood carvers of Odisha can be found in temple ceilings and carved wooden beams and doors in places like Birnchinarayan temple, Buguda, Charchika temple, Banki, Siva temple, Kapilas, and Laxmi-Nrusingha temple at Berhampur.

Odishas Paintings, especially Pata paintings (called Pata Chitra) are famous and much sought after as wall hangings. The Patachitras are paintings on cloth. In the absence of paper, cloth gives an extended smooth surface and is easily transported. They tell a story, in pictorial form so eloquently! Even today the Chitrakars of Odisha use vegetable and mineral colors. Brushes are very crude and are made from the hair of domestic animals. The Talapatrachitras or the palm leaf engravings consist of frozen linear drawing as illustrations of manuscripts. In these engravings, colors are muted and play a very minor role. Apart from these three most important pictorial genres, there is a lot of folk art in Odisha. One of the most popular done on circular playing cards peculiar to Odisha. These are called Ganjapas (Ganjifa) and have elaborate borders with the central illustrations from either the Ramayana or the Dasavatara of Vishnu or from 'Krishna Lila'. The three main categories of Odishan painting, the Bhitichitra or the murals, the pata or the cloth painting and the Talpatachitra or the palm leaf engraving remain more or less the same in style and subject-matter during any given period of Odishan Art history.

Other very popular souvenir items that hail from Odisha are `silver filigree tarakasi decorative items and silver utensils. The silver filigree and other silver items have, like other handicrafts, a very important socio-cultural function. The child's first solid food, usually a sweet dish of rice, kheer, is served in a silver bowl and the elder specially grand-parents take pride in presenting the silver bowl for this function known as anna prasana. Like brass and bell metal items the bride is also usually presented a set of silver dishes which is reserved for offering food to the deities during religious festivals. Many temples have a set of silver ornaments for the presiding deities including silver crowns which are used on ceremonial occasions. Silver filigree has been an important export item of Odisha from ancient times and has been a symbol of the dizzying heights of excellence reached by Odisha's craftsmen. Lacquer work is yet another example of the exquisitely beautiful and appealing handcrafted gems that are given shape by the nimble fingers of Odishas gifted craftsmen.