The Andaman & Nicobar Islands are a long chain of islands located in the southeastern part of the Bay of Bengal. Wood and other forest products are available here in abundance. Padauk, Badam and Gurjan are the main varieties of useful timbers found on these islands. Canes and bamboo are also available in large amounts. There are also lots of coconut trees in Andaman & Nicobar. Other natural resource is the marine life. It includes coral, shells, driftwood and seaweeds. Trancs, tortoise and turbos are the main types of shells. The main handicrafts of Andaman & Nicobar are created from these raw materials. They include exotic wood crafts, ornaments from sea-shell and palm mats. However the crafts which are predominant in the Andaman group of islands, are different from the specialized crafts of the Nicobar group of islands.
Woodwork and carpentry are the local crafts of Andaman. There are several units engaged in making the furniture and other wooden articles made from ornamental woods like marble wood, Paduak and Chui. The tabletops made from Paduak burr are singular works of handicrafts in these islands. The driftwood that is shaped by the currents and flow of the sea is commonly available in Andaman. It is converted into art objects through imagination, dedication and precision. It includes construction of houses, making canoes of different types and fencing plantations. On some islands, the wooden statues of male and female pairs, and figures of animals and birds are made. They are well-crafted and brightly coloured.
Cane and Bamboo
The settlers from Andhra Pradesh and Kerala in Andamans are famous for bamboo and cane works. They can make various exquisite items, in accordance to the provided designs. The beautiful cane baskets made from thin twigs of cane are useful for women to carry and store the market produce. The cane work, especially the furniture made in the cellular jail, is also very popular.
Shell craft is one of the most popular handicrafts of Andaman Islands. The shell crafts include ashtrays, lamps, buttons and jewelry made from the polished, decorative shells. The tortoise shell is the interesting resource material available. These shells are large and available in beautiful shades. The articles like table lamps, small round and square boxes and some decorative items made from the tortoise shells are available. Handicrafts from coconut shells
As coconut trees are available in large numbers, they are the best natural resources for handicrafts of Andaman & Nicobar. The items like finger bowls, table lamps and some other objects made from the coconut shells are very popular among the tourists.
The Nicobar Islands have their own tradition of arts and handicrafts. However, there are very few professional craftsmen and the production of crafts is not commercial. Some of the major crafts of Nicobar are:
Basketry and Mat Making
These are the two important traditional crafts of Nicobar. They are generally carried out by women in their free time. The mats are made from Pandanus leaves and coconut stems. These soft, cool and light mats are used for sleeping, sitting and also for making the huts.
Making the crossbows is a functional craft. It features a central wooden beam with groves and iron loops to hold the arrows and quiver. It is very popular among the tourists due to its novelty.