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Sikkim Art and Craft
Sikkim has always lured travelers with its misty valleys and snow clad peaks. Sandwiched between Bhutan and Nepal and falling en route to Tibet this mysterious land was till some years ago a restricted region. This is the place where the Kangchendzonga in all its glory stands tall and guard this small land against foreign invasion. What meets your eyes in this land of myths and folklore are tropical orchids, humming of prayers from the many monasteries that abounds here, prayer flags, and meandering rivers here and there. Interestingly most of the natural phenomenon here has a folklore attached for instance the Rangit and Teesta river, or the known and non- descript peaks that one can see from here. Many of these folklore and myths are also represented in visual interpretations in Sikkim’s art and craft.
The government of Sikkim encourages the development of the handloom industries and cottage industries in Sikkim. These objects of art and craft are not only known for their aesthetic and artistic value but also functional to the core. Since Sikkim is a potboiler of many other races like Lepchas, Bhutanese, and Nepalese. You will often find that the craft and art of Sikkim is actually an amalgamation of these sects as well. Tibetan craft is also quite rampant and famous here. Other than Gangtok, Namchi and Melli are also famous for their cottage industries and handloom products.
No wonder, at present, Sikkim is enjoying success of art and craft boom, thanks to the special initiative taken by the Sikkim government. The government has also taken efforts to preserve and promote the craftsmanship in Sikkim. With talent of the workers being acknowledged, the art and craft industry is thriving in Sikkim.
Sikkim is best renowned for beautiful products like hand woven woolen carpets with conventional Sikkimese motifs. The Bhutias are deemed to be expert carpet weavers and it is weaved in a frame loom. Sikimese traditional designs as well as Buddhist Iconography and geometrical patterns are the main subject. Wools of different colors are used to make it colorful. There are many institutions in Namchi and Gangtok that still teaches these the art of carpet weaving. Wood carvings are also in demand and the best place to see some of these exquisite handworks are the monasteries. The traditional wooden masks that are sold in the curio shops could be considered for best buys while in Sikkim. The beautiful folding Choktse tables made of wood should not be missed out if you interested in Sikimese furniture.
Thangka Painting that could be seen hanging in the numerous roadside shops in Gangtok are not only known for their artistic value but also held in reverence amongst the people here. They are generally spiritual in nature and mainly the subject of these paintings involves the life of Buddha and his teachings. Some of the best Thangkas can still be seen in the monasteries of Sikkim made by lamas.
Woolen handloom products come at pretty affordable prices here. They are fashionable and at the same time warm. The shawls with Sikimese motifs like dragons, prayer wheels and natural sceneries are the favorite amongst foreigners. Kukri or the Gurkha blade as it is known as otherwise is also a favorite handloom metal product here.