The geographic isolation of Himachal Pradesh has allowed its people to evolve their own unique tradition of handicrafts. The extensive range includes fine woodwork, traditional embroydory, engraved metalware, beautifully patterned carpets and traditional woollen shawls.
Shawls: Extremely fine and valuable shawls, made from the wool shed by the pashmina goat are popular in Himachal. These shawls are both plain and designed. The right mix of wool can give beautiful shades of grey, blue, mustard and black. Shawl in Kullu are often woven from the wool of angora rabbits. Borders in bright geometric design are also used to add interst to plain coloured shawls.
Carpets: Carpets and blankets are an essential part of Himachali furnishing, and carpets in brilliant colours are woven with a variety of traditional motfits. There are Garudas on flowering trees, dragons, swastikas, flutes to symbolize happiness and lotus blooms to mean purity. Carpets are wooven as furnishing, as carpets saddles for horses ans as blankets or chutkas. They are part of every bride's trousseau.
Metalcraft and Jewellery: Matalcraft is one of the traditional crafts of Himachal Pradesh. The more commonely used metals are silver and copper. The local craftsmanship in casting, ornamenting and engraving of silver has evolved into classic designs. The locally available items include carved silver lamp stands, tea pots, wine cups and metal sculpture. These follow indigenous shapes and are decorated with finally carved patterns depicting flora and fauna as well as stories from legends.
Wood Craft: The most abudant wood in Himachal's forests are the pine and deodar, besides walnut, horse chestnut and wild back mulberry. Intricately carved seats, doors, windows and panels are some examples of the dexterity of Himachal's craftsment. Fruit-bowls, beer mugs, wooden jewellery and carved images are part of their modern range of products.
Stone Craft: The Shivalik hills abound in fine sandstone which is eminently suited for carvingand has played a vital role in perpetuating the stone carvers craft. Numerous stone temples still dot the Himachal landscape.
Painting: Raja Sansar Chand, who ruled Kangra in the later half of the 18th century, a patron of the arts, contributed greatly to the evolution of this genre. His palaces at Nadaun, Sujanpur Tira and various temples in the area were ornamented with murals. Jewel - like miniatures of the period, depicting court life, episodes from the life of Krishna etc., painted in rich colours are still to be seen in museums in India and abroad.
In the remote valleys of Lahaul and Spiti are ancient gompas-Buddhist monastries which form the focus of all cultural life in the area. Some of them, nearly a thousand years old, have exquisite painted murals, stuccos and thangkas.Fine thangkas-scroll paintings on canvas, edged with a border of rich silk, are still created here.