Rural Crafts Hub

Handicrafts of Bengal embody our rich heritage of aesthetics, creativity and artistry. The craft sector provides low cost, green livelihood opportunities to more than 550,000 men and women.

The sector represents economic lifeline of the vulnerable sections of the society, with women accounting for around 50% of the crafts persons and a significant number belonging to the scheduled castes, tribes and religious minorities. In today’s globalised world, the growing retail industry, fashion and luxury markets, demand for green production, potential for e-commerce have created new opportunities for developing a vibrant craft economy thereby providing increased income opportunities to the craft communities like the Patuas, potters, weavers, wood carvers, Dokra makers etc. Besides its high potential for employment, the craft sector is economically important from the point of low capital investment, high ratio of value addition, and high potential for export and foreign exchange earnings for the country. The Government of West Bengal thus aims to unleash the potential of the sector in terms of employment, enterprises, export and growth.

Masks of Bengal

Mask or mukhosh, as it is known in Bengal has a mysterious history, too vague to be
chronicled in perfect sequence, both in terms of advent and influence. Rumour has it that in ancient times, witches started the practice of wearing masks. To camouflage themselves, the witches built a sublime weapon, a facial veil that prevented them from being exposed. They wore colourful ornate faces made from wood or paper, a bait to attract innocent people, who were then sacrificed so that the witches would be granted immortality.

There are various theories regarding the origin of masks in Bengal – one of them says that the wearing of masks started during the time of the great migration that took place in the Bengal delta during pre-historic times; another associates masks with symbols of negating geo-political boundaries of the world.

Though there is a lot of ambiguity about the origin of masks in Bengal, it is evident that masks were of great religious importance owing to the belief in spells. Tribal priests would wear these masks and exhibit various magical skills.

Thus masks became a popular prop in Bengali culture, many of them being used in various dance forms performed to appease the demon gods and to usher in peace as well as prosperity.

Dolls of Bengal

Dolls have been customarily crafted for religious purposes believed to possess spiritual, magical and ritual value This is evident from discoveries made from excavations in the Sindhu Valley. Potter communities nestling around these excavation sites still make such dolls and it can be safely assumed that these modern day fired clay dolls are the descendants of India's ancient terracotta art. 

In addition to clay, artisans also create colourful dolls made of wood, metal, sponge wood, palm leaf, jute, etc. Urbanisation has slowed down the pace of doll-making, but it has not been able to bring it to a halt. From Fair-grounds to modern showrooms, the year-round bustle is enough to warm the hearts of these artisans. Their meagre income might not be sufficient for sustenance, but these craftsmen hold up to the art, out of sheer dedication and love. 

Biswa Bangla brings you a unique collection of the dolls of Bengal that spans the entire State. They are either crude and rudimentary as well as elaborate art. All these dolls are available at Biswa Bangla Showrooms at Kolkata Airport, Dakshinapan in Kolkata, Biswa Bangla Haat at Rajarhat, Bagdogra Airport, Darjeeling and New Delhi.

London Design Festival




First staged in 2003, the London Design Festival is one of the world's most important annual design events. The Festival programme is made up of over 400 events and exhibitions staged by hundreds of Partner organisations across the design spectrum and from around the world.


Biswa Bangla will be showcasing 7 indigenous handicraft styles at LDF Design Junction. Follow them here at the LDF blog.