India has one of the world's oldest civilisations. Evidence of the earliest crafts of India is dated at around 5,000 years ago. India's artistry and crafts are as rich and diverse as its people. From textiles to jewellery, stoneware to woodwork, and pottery to painting, each medium gives the observer a snapshot of the beauty of India. Children can learn about the culture, customs and people of India as they make their own crafts.
The jungles of India capture the imaginations of young children. Tigers, elephants and cobras are some of the most fascinating Indian animals. Children can make their own tiger or elephant masks, using paper plates and construction paper. For example, to make an elephant mask, paint the back of a paper plate grey. Then cut out eyeholes in the plate and add ears and a trunk cut from grey construction paper. A headdress for the elephant can be made from different-coloured construction paper and can be decorated with stick-on gems. Thin elastic is needed to make the plate into a mask.
Bangles are particularly popular in India for accessorising clothing and to wear for dance. To prepare bangles, an adult should carefully cut a 5-cm (2-inch) wide continuous circle from an old plastic bottle. The edges should then be smoothed with sandpaper so that they are not sharp. Children can then decorate the bangles with paper, glitter, ribbons or stick-on gems.
One of the most important holidays in India is the Festival of Lights, known as Dipavali or Diwali. According to Brighton and Hove Museums, a rangoli is "a brightly coloured design created using different materials such as coloured powders, seeds and grains, flower petals, pencils, pens and paint." These designs are typically displayed outside of homes to welcome guests during the time of Diwali. The tradition is based on the story of the Ramayana. In this tale, the people commemorate Rama's return from exile with rangoli. Children can create their own rangoli on paper or sandpaper using chalk. They can also create one outside on cement or concrete using chalk and a flour paste coloured with food colouring.
Applique; is an art that is practised on the east coast of India in Orissa. This is an art form in which a piece of fabric is decorated. Most often a vibrant colour of fabric is chosen and cut into the shape of an oval, square, or rectangle. Then a shape or design (animal, flowers, etc.) are cut from a contrasting colour of fabric. Next, the shape is stitched onto the base fabric with different types of stitching. Sometimes small shiny pieces of glass or metal are also sewn into the design. This craft could be attempted by older children who have some competency with sewing and stitching.
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