East Meets West: Evolution of Indian Furniture

Indian Furniture was known to give more importance to esthetics than functionality. After their contact with Europe, Indian craftsmen were introduced to western designs. With their borrowed designs and utility from Europe, Indian furniture became the most important furniture in the world.

Indian works were known for their terra cotta figurines, woodworks and jewelry; the most important factor that stands out was their beauty. During this time, different designs were given importance which made Indian furniture uncomfortable. However this was not a problem for an Indian who was used to sitting on the floor and sleeping on simple beds with wooden posts.

When the first Europeans went to India, they found it hard to use Indian furniture; they had to introduce their own furniture for use. After finding out how Europeans make their furniture, some factors were introduced into the Indian furniture too resulting in beautiful and functional furniture. The most well known Indian furniture which came into existence as a result of this combination is Goanese, Mughal or Indo-Dutch Indian furniture where ivory and ebony were used.

In the 18th century, the English dominated India and introduced their own furniture. Most of the people who wanted to identify themselves with the ruling class began to use this furniture. However during 19th century, ornamentation gained importance once again and utility was again ignored for esthetics.

Indian furniture had almost 80 hardwood varieties which gave the woodworkers a wide range of woods to choose from. However the English influenced use of teak wood for royal furniture. Even now royal palaces use teak and indigenous designs in their ornamentation.

Indian woodwork had been put in some museums like in the city of Kolkata. Most of the gifts given to the royal family show how Indian’s were concerned about giving importance to details. Even now some of the British furniture in royal palaces is of Indian origin.

Now Indian furniture gives priority to simplicity and utility before art. Low priced furniture made woodworkers leave expensive ornamentation in order to cater to the increasing demands. However in some areas, mostly where palaces were located, there are woodworkers who still value ancient Indian furniture works and they still craft them with the same expertise.

Now you can find Indian furniture made by combining foreign designs with local craftsmanship. This gave birth to beautiful Indian furniture which is most sought after across the globe.

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