There are approximately 437 tribes in India, out of which nearly 62 hail from the state of Orissa. The state practically reigns, as far as the production of tribal handicrafts is concerned. The tribal potters make objects like pots, bowls, plates, jars and cooking stoves to meet requirements of daily life as well as for rituals. Orissa craftsmen are highly skilled at making traditional art and crafts made out of bamboo and cane.
The structural characteristics of the bamboo, like its high tensile strength, are employed for architectural purposes. Bamboo splits are woven to make baskets. There are ample crafts that can be made out of bamboo like ropes, strings, brooms and the like. These products are largely manufactured by the artisans for local consumption. Tribal craftsmen of Orissa make a variety of papier-mâché products also. The technique basically requires the use of paper, waste cloth and other natural fibers that are soaked and beaten into a pulp.
Gum is added to the mixture for strength. Later on, these are put into moulds of different shapes and sizes, to prepare handicrafts like masks, animal toys, penholders, dolls, etc. The final stage of making papier-mâché products is painting and decoration. Another art in which the tribals of Orissa state excel is the making of natural dyes. It is said that the knowledge of making vegetable dyes dates back to the primitive times. Cotton yarn, dyed in madder, is still used by the weavers of Kotpad at Koraput district of Orissa.