A List of 16 Exclusive Souvenirs of Bengal that You Can’t Afford to Miss
The sweetness of Bengal hardly needs an introduction. The topography, the locations, the art and culture of Bengal have something special that made the eminent personalities to wish to take birth again in this land. If you are visiting Bengal, take a part of Bengal back with you. Apart from the sweetest language, rich heritage and books, here is a peek to some of Bengal’s most popular art forms that you may consider taking back as souvenirs.
1. Terracotta Art
Bengal has proclaimed a unique status globally with the brilliance of its terracotta art. Though instances of terracotta art are scattered throughout the state, the district of Bankura has sculpted an eternal name for itself with its terracotta artefacts. The USP of this art is its unique moulding with intricate designs and detailing that imparts this craft its distinctiveness. Idols of deities, horses, elephants, vases, pots, wind chimes, bells, plates, containers, flower pots, tiles and diverse home décor items made in Bankura are now being adored across the world.
2. Dokra Art
Another indigenous art of Bengal that is being adorned across the country and throughout the world is Dokra. This metal casting art is popular for its unique antique looks and rustic feel. Figurines of humans, animals, birds, lamps – you can get a wide variety. And dokra jewellery is already a style craze for its statement look and versatility.
3. Jute Art
Bengal is the chief producer of jute in the country and it also leads in producing jute products. From carpets, tapestries, roof and pot hangings to bags, sarees and bedcovers, carrying a jute product as a souvenir is ideal when you visit the state.
4. Brass Art
The brass art of Bengal is acclaimed worldwide. This craft is practised mostly in the districts of Bankura and Midnapore. Brass utensils have been traditionally used in Bengali households, both for daily and ceremonial purpose. During the ancient period, these utensils were mostly used by the upper class but gradually it moved into ordinary households. The engraved utensils look beautiful. Brass art as a souvenir exudes class.
5. Bell Metal Products
Apart from brass, the other metal craft that is popular in Bengal is bell metal. Take a pick from the wide range of ceremonial products for prayers or for decorating indoors.
6. Papier Mache Masks
This is another unique art Bengal masters in. Used mostly in folk dances like ‘Chhau Dance’, these paper masks are now widely been adored as a home décor for their individualistic appearance. Dipped in clay, the paper is placed on a clay model to give it the desired shape and then it is removed from the model when dry. After this, they are coloured and ornamented to give it the final look.
7. Pottery of Krishnanagar
Pottery have been an invincible part of the culture of Bengal. But under the patronage of Maharaja Krishnachandra of Krishnanagar, the art of pottery took a promising turn during the late 18th Human figurines made of clay dressed in regional clothes soon became a widely accepted and celebrated art form in Bengal.
8. Sholapith Art
Creating magnificent art with ‘sholapith’ or the soft core of a plant stem called Aeschyromene Aspere became a recognized art form centuries ago. Artisans and craftsmen here have kept this art alive till date. Various designs, deities, animals, palanquins, ships, boats, exquisite figurines, garlands, crowns etc are created by using sholapith. Though it resembles the artificial thermocol, but sholapith is a natural substance presenting great plasticity, shine and texture.
9. Cane Art
Found across Bengal, Assam and Tripura, you may collect art pieces made of cane. From small keepsakes to furniture, cane art is widely acclaimed for both functional and decorative purposes.
10. Bamboo Art
India being the second chief producer of bamboo after China and Bengal being a significant region of bamboo production, bamboo had found its place in the indigenous handicraft of the state long time back and had been developed into a cottage industry. Reed mats, various kinds of baskets, innovative and decorative showpieces now have a global appeal.
11. Shitalpati Mats
These amazingly designed mats in various styles and forms are in vogue to give the indoors a unique, rustic look. While this popular product is now produced in various regions of Bengal, Coochbehar deserves a special mention.
12. Palmyra Art
You need to see it to believe that such beautiful artefacts can be created of dry Palmyra leaves. Palmyra is a plantation that grows in Bengal aplenty. Wonderful hand fans, baskets and mats in different colours and shapes could be a great souvenir to take along with you.
13. Kalighat Paintings
This exclusive painting that developed in and around Kalighat by artists belonging to the Patua neighbourhood is something to watch out for. This type of watercolour paintings reflect the cultural upheavals of colonial Bengal during the 19th century. The themes revolve around socio-cultural changes of the then Bengal and have evolved to other themes of religion and modern painting to meet contemporary demands.
14. Shantiniketani Art
The embroidery and leather art of Shantiniketan has a very distinctive appeal. Watching leather crafting and textile art of Shantiniketan live is a great experience. If you visit Shantiniketan, you can easily collect these souvenirs from there. You can also find them in city shops and emporiums.
15. SareesFor a lady, Bengal sarees could be a tempting option. You may also consider picking up sarees as a souvenir for all the dear women you know. From traditional Bengal’s ‘Tant’ or cotton sarees, the white and red bordered saree, ‘Baluchari’, Murshidabad Silk, Tussar to the exquisite ‘Kantha’ stitched or embroidered saree, there is a myriad variety to choose from. Keep a whole day in hand if you opt for this option because it’s gonna be a mindboggling experience!
16. FoodBengal is incomplete without its food. While you can taste the various delicacies of Bengal, you may consider carrying some sweets of Bengal as a souvenir. Rosogolla, Bardhaman’s Sitabhog, Shaktigarh’s Langcha, Nolen Gur-er Sandesh – they are pure bliss! Don’t forget to stock Bengal’s popular Nolen Gur (jaggery) and pure Darjeeling tea.
So, are you carrying a part of Bengal with you during your visit? Which one is your pick?