Handicrafts of Northeast India

by Rahul Baruah , Posted on May 20, 2020

Handicrafts of Northeast India

Connected by a narrow strip to the Indian mainland, surrounded by the Himalayan foothills and China to the north and Myanmar to the west and south, lies the eight Indian states that are collectively known as Northeast India. Spread over an approximate expanse of 265,000 square kilometers, the regions eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura–with their rivers, serried mountain ridges and thick tracts of impenetrable jungle, are home to some of the most colourful and artistic people in the world. The age old handmadecraft tradition of different tribes of all these states is a proof of their amazing artistic culture.

Northeast India map

Table of Content

1.History of handicrafts of northeast India.

2. Handicrafts of different states

          2.1. Arunachal Pradesh

          2.2. Assam







3.Artist and craftsmen.

4.Production and demand.


History of handicrafts of Northeast India 

Throughout the ages the people of India have developed many traditional art and crafts. The North Eastern part of India has always deserved special mention in this aspect. 

The people of this region have developed many traditional hand crafts and industries, most of which have evolved through the ages, and have survived the ravages of time. Most of the handicrafts were indigenously developed. The crafts and industries of Assam has found place in many well known and important books of history. The great epic Mahabharata makes mention of a painter of repute of this region, 'Chitralekha' and the ivory industry of  Kamrupa, the present Assam. The Ramayana praises the prosperous boat industry of Assam, the then Kamrupa. Other books like Harshacharita, Arthasashtra, Atharvaveda also makes clear mention about the traditional arts, crafts and industries of this region.

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Handicrafts of different states

The North-Eastern Region has predominantly tribal traditions, and nowhere is this reflected more than in the region’s unique and varied handicrafts.  As per the Census conducted by NCAER in 1995-96, NER, including Sikkim, has 8.87 lakhs handicrafts artisans, which accounts for 18.63% of the total artisan population in the country. The important crafts of this region are cane and Bamboo furniture, Mat weaving, Basketry, stray bags, wooden crafts, traditional gamosa, Brass craft, Artistic textiles/ Hand-block printing, Tribal jewellery, Stone work, terracotta, and Jute handicrafts.


The art of making beautiful traditional crafts is something which is very natural to the native tribes of this region. Most of the household items used by the peoples even today are handmade from the common material available in the region. Different regions are famous for different craftsmanship.



The  arts and handicrafts practiced here are bamboo and cane products, mask making, weaving with both natural and synthetic dye, carpets, wood carvings, ornamental art etc. Different tribes are famous in different form of craftsmanship such as Monpas are famous for carpets, Khamptis tribe is known for their wood carvings etc. Arunachalis are known for their skills in paper making, smithy work, carpentry, ivory work and pottery.



The art and handicrafts of Assam beautifully depicts the richness of its culture. The craftsmen make several handicrafts apart from the famous silk fabric and cane and bamboo products. Different regions of Assam are known for their different forms of art and handicrafts.

The arts and handicrafts practiced are pottery ,bamboo and cane furniture, wooden crafts, handmade bags, handmade tableware, traditional gamosa and shawls, straw bags, sitalpati, jute products, japi(hat), metal crafts, toys, masks, jewellery, handlooms. Hajo and Sarthebari villages of Assam have established their names in the world of metal crafts. Masks are an integral part of the art and culture of Assamese. Silk fabric of Assam has earned immense recognition from all over the world. Different types of silk are available here but the muga silk is world famous.




Having made an esteem place in the world of art and handicrafts, Manipur offers a wide range of products. The craftsmen of Manipur depicts its rich culture through their  amazing arts and hand made crafts. The women here are excellent weavers of cotton textiles. Laichamphi (meaning cotton cloth) is the name given to this handicraft of Manipur. Block printing is also popular here. Colourful block printed towels or the Khamen Chatpa is a status symbol and is often presented to the village chiefs and warriors.

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Some of the hand made crafts Manipur is known for the most are hand-woven and embroidered textiles, mats made of water reed, Manipuri dance doll, shawls and blankets, Manipuri bed covers of Moirangfee, cane and bamboo work, wood carving.





Meghalaya “the abode of clouds” apart from its mesmerising landscape and waterfalls is also known for its arts and crafts. The most prominent art here is woodcarving and cane and bamboo work as the state produces abundant wood material. The craftsmen weave amazing cane mats, winnowing fans, caps, umbrellas, stools and baskets. Tlieng ’ is the special kind of mat weaved by the khasis which is higly durable.

Some of the famous handicrafts of Meghalaya are Baskets, open Weave carrying Basket, closed weave carrying Basket, small storage baskets, coiled cane containers, large storage baskets, rain shield and headgears, winnowing trays & fans, mud shovel, shield made of bamboo plints, Khasi bamboo comb and pipes.




Mizoram offers  a variety of bamboo crafts. The skilled artist here work with bamboo and cane to make baskets, utensils, hats, handcrafted furniture, flower vase and decorative items. 

The craftsmen of this beautiful North East Indian state are expert in their traditional art of weaving. The weavers use bright colours and traditional designs and patterns on their looms and create wonderful fabrics. The tribes here weave shawls and traditional dresses on their own.


Art and handicrafts are synonyms to the culture of  Nagaland. The tribes here have long perfected the art of creating flamboyant items from the  local resources. By using products from the farms, fields and forests, they make their own clothes, utensils, medicines and objects of ritualistic and aesthetic value. The handicrafts of Nagaland are designed in beautiful patters which depict the tradition of the Nagas. They are in great demand in India and abroad. The use of vibrant colours and unique designs in the fabrics make them look very attractive.

 Nagaland shawls are very famous among tourists. They are woven into different designs depending on the different tribes who weave them. Cane and bamboo work, wood carving,  baskets, hats, armlets, necklaces, mats, shields,  black smithy and pottery are the most popular handicrafts work of the Nagas.


The skilled artisan’s creative work adds the cherry on the cake to the natural beauty of this state. Sikkim is also a destination radiant with impressive handicrafts.

Some of the prominent arts and handicrafts practiced here are wood carvings, carpet weavings, Thangka paintings (it was done by priest earlier to mainly serve the purpose of spreading Buddhist teachings but over the years the skills have been passed on to normal people also), handicrafts, choktse table(it is a foldable table available in several desigs and shape, one of the main handicraft attraction of Sikkim ).


These state is also a home to skilled craftsmen who have mastered the art since ages.  The different ethnic groups of the state are perfect in bamboo and cane work.

The attractive handicrafts of the state are room divider, decorated wall panels,silver jewellery, lamps, furniture of cane, ornamental articles, bamboo dining table mats and floor mats. The artisans of Tripura weave wonderful fabrics with great designs. The typical handloom consists of vertical and horizontal stripes with colourful embroidery.


The  skilled craftsmen crafting all these marvelous crafts are mostly villagers. The craftsmen are the local tribes of these region but their livelihood is not as beautiful as their craft. They are still deprived of the  recognition and worth of their skills.

These days government are taking initiative to encourage these age old traditional skills to help these craftsman and also few startups are providing them the right exposure that their art needs through listing them online platforms thus eliminating the middlemen . These helps them to get bulk orders and the right pricing of their products.


The  Northeastern states are abundant of arts and handicrafts . the arts and handicrafts are long followed cultural tradition of most of the tribes these is also one of the reason that it stills prospers the society. The materials used for production of these products are made of almost  90% of the  natural and organic resources available in the particular region. And thus has many benefits over same products made of synthetic material.The demand of these crafts are growing worldwide as the craftsmen are getting more exposure these days all thanks to these digital era. Check all the products here getkraft.com.