There are many ancient craft forms especially ones that have originated in India, but the one I'm writing about today is one of my favourites since the intricacy & detailing in this form can be paralleled by few others only.
I'm referring to Palm leaf Etching art, also called Talachitras.
The Oriya word 'Tala' stands for Palm and 'chitra' as we know stands for Picture in Hindi as well as Oriya. Thus,Talachitra means - picture on Palm leaves.Though it is one of the most ancient forms of art in the World, it thrives in Orissa with a considerable following overseas also. The reason is easy to understand.
This unique form of art requires minute etching of palm leaves (either stitched together initially or post etching) with an iron stylus/needle pen, over lightly pencil drawn figures.The width of a palm leaf would be approx 1 inch & thus hand drawings on this size initially with pencil and then minute etching requires great skill, concentration and effort.
Once the etching is complete, the leaves are then rubbed with lamp soot or charcoal of burnt coconut shells to fill up the etchings and then gently wiped off with a cloth such that the black powdered colour percolates into the etching while the rest is wiped clean; to reveal the intricate design (in black) on the leaves.
Completion of a single design, depending on the intricacy & size takes anywhere between 7 days to 2-3 weeks.
Talachitras are framed & used for Wall Decoration primarily.
Palm leaf boxes are also etched to give them great artistic value.