Handicrafts of Darjeeling
Darjeeling is inhabited by different ethnic groups with distinct identity as well as art and culture. Consequently, the handicrafts of Darjeeling do not follow any set pattern; contrarily, it represents the skills of different groups of artisans. At the same time, it has to be understood that in this modern age when communication has opened up all frontiers, no school of art can live in isolation. That is why although each school strive to retain their individuality, the line of separation has somehow been blurred. Yet, while discussing the handicrafts of this region, we have divided them under three different sections.
Traditional Handicrafts of the Gorkhas
In Gorkhali handicrafts, religion has all along been an influencing factor. That is why we find statues of Lord Buddha as well as other gods and goddesses being made by the artisans of Darjeeling. In paintings too such trends are quite visible. However, that does not mean that this school of art is centered only on religion. Artwork on secular themes is no less important. In general such handicrafts fall into two distinct categories – metal craft and non-metal craft.
Metal Crafts by Gorkhali Artisans
Non-metal Crafts by Gorkhali Artisans
Traditional Handicrafts of the Tibetan Artisans
Metal Crafts by Tibetan Craftsmen
Metal handicrafts made by Tibetan craftsmen are indeed of high order. These objects of arts can either be decorative or ritualistic. While shopping in Darjeeling one can find hundreds of statues, decorative kettles, prayer wheels et cetera lined up on the shelves of different shops and emporiums. Different types of jewelries embedded with stones are also very popular items.
Non-metal Crafts by Tibetan Craftsmen
Thangka or Thanka painting depicting Buddhist scenes is another distinctive art of the Tibetan people. This art originally evolved in the 11th century Nepal. It was later imported by the Tibetans and soon it became an important teaching tool for the Lamas, who travelled from place to place preaching Buddhism among the masses. Thangkas are also used as medium for prayers and worship. Because these are first mounted by cloth and then by silk, they last really a long time and therefore worth every penny spent on them.