The major art forms popular and practiced in Uttar Pradesh since immemorial time are painting, sculpturing, hand-crafting of designs on metal, wood, ivory, stone and clay.
Painting & Rock Painting
The tradition of painting in Uttar Pradesh has been going on since pre-historic times. The cave paintings of Sonbhadra and Chitrakoot depict scenes of hunting, war, festivals, dances, romantic life and animals. The golden period of painting in UP was the Mughal Era. The art of painting attained its peak during the reign of Jahangir. The Mughal style of painting remains one of the greatest achievements of Asian culture and is unique in its concept, presentation and style.
The art of painting reached the epitome of perfection in the area of Bundelkhand when the King of Orchha reconstructed the temple of Keshav Dev in Mathura. The paintings of Mathura, Gokul, Vrindavan and Govardhan depict the scenes from the life of Lord Krishna. Another major pre-modern painting tradition of UP is known as the Garhwal School which was patronized by the Kings of Garhwal.
One of the important crafts of Uttar Pradesh is Chikankari, which entails delicate and traditional hand embroidery. This form of handicrafts is mainly practiced in Lucknow. It is done on fabrics like chiffon, muslin, organza, organdie and silk. Chikan saris and Kurtas which are the perfect summer wear.
Zardozi embroidery is another unique art where the embroidery is done in three dimensions. Zari works of Varanasi are famous around the world.
Pottery and exquisite metal ware products are also created on a large scale in Uttar Pradesh.
Carpet weaving is also an important cultural expression of Uttar Pradesh. The state caters to 90 percent of the country's carpets. The carpet weaving centers primarily located in the state are around Mirzapur, Khamaria and Bhadohi.
Uttar Pradesh is the largest Brass and Copper producing state in India. In domestic-ware each of the 'lotas' (small water-pots) is known by the name of its origin, like Etawah, Banaras, Sitapur, etc. The ritual articles are largely in copper. Moradabad in U P is famous for its art metalwork and known for its coloured enamelling and intricate engravings.
Glazed pottery with white background and blue and green patterns is developed in Khurja, Chunar and Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. UP produces some of the finest Chunar black clay pottery. This is inlaid with silver paint in intricate designs. The art that is practiced in Nizamabad, has high gloss and lustre derived from a powder called kabiz made from the mud of rice fields. Khurja is also well known for its cheap and tough tableware.
Gorakhpur has villages where clay figures of animals are created and is famous for its ornately decorated terracotta horse too. The potter creates the basic form by placing separate pieces of mud on the wheel and then carving them.
Lucknow is well known for its jewellery and enamel work. Exquisite silverware with patterns of hunting scenes, snakes and roses are very popular. The Bidri and Zarbuland silver works of Lucknow have fine embroidery on excellent pieces of huqqa farshi, jewel boxes, trays, bowls, cufflinks, cigarette holders, etc. Renowned ivory and bone carvings with motifs of flowers, leaves, creepers, trees, birds and animals are widely produced in Lucknow. The master craftsmen create intricate items like knives, lampshades, shirt pins and small toys.
'Attars' or perfumes are also produced in Lucknow since 19th century. The Lucknow perfumers experimented and succeeded in making attar with delicate and lasting fragrances those are made from various aromatic herbs, spices, sandal oil, musk, essence of flowers, and leaves. The famous Lucknow fragrances used in perfumes are khus, keora, chameli, zafran and agar.