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Envisioning Revival of Indian Crafts

The effort that goes in making objects of craft is no way as meagre as the amount of recognition and appreciation it receives. The humans living in today’s digital era believe less in the amount of manpower spent in accomplishing task and more on the money that goes in as capital. We have time and again heard people saying “Why should he/she get a high return, all he used was his skill and it was little of capital that was invested”. Have we turned so blind that we extend a deaf ear to the hard work and toil and most of all the skill? We have started weighing talent with money? When did money turn so powerful that it started auctioning a person’s forte?

The Indian arts and crafts are suffering because of the above mindset, we have completely forgotten as to how they have shaped our heritage and helped us maintain it. Even in today’s world people remember India as the country of the Taj Mahal, the country of the Natraja Bronze Idols and the country which the home to innumerable art and craft forms that have inspired the world for ages at a stretch.

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A Poompuhar brass lamp artisan at work.

The artisans fear the fact that with the advancement in modern technologies and the lack of recognition as well as the dipping financial growth in this sector their future generations may stop contributing to art; this is evident in the statistics that show a steep decline in the number of artisans each year. In order to raise their standard of living they shall have to forget their love for their ancestral way of earning a livelihood.
The crafts of our country have preserved the cultures of the ancient kings that lived hundreds and thousands of years prior to this very day. The Cholas, the Pandyas, The Rajputs and even those who lived before them are conserved in the art form they left behind them. India is known for its diversity; be that in the facial appearance of the citizens or their native languages, their culture or their eating habits, their way of worshipping or their standard of living, their native art forms or their level of basic education.

India is still an agrarian economy, and the sector that accounts for maximum employment after agriculture is handicrafts. This fact is accepted by the 2011 report by Crafts council of India. In spite of this large employment ratio, both these sectors suffer from losses and are witnessing a shift in occupation. Many farmers commit suicide each year and many art forms are nearing the verge of extinction.

One of the major factors behind this phenomenon is the fact that this sector is still untouched by modernity and innovative techniques. The present world lives far away from symmetry and monotony, it wants to everything to change with time. Many critics defy this notion, they believe that art has its own essence and in order to keep that essence living we need to keep it away untouched from modernity. Our country has a number of associations and organisations that take patronage of different art forms, they must shoulder the responsibility of educating the artisans and making them get their due.

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A Poompuhar stone sculptor at Mammallapuram. [Image Credit: Indianature9 - Flickr]

The artisans’ skill should not be lost with the sale of the object he carved but should live it, as it does for other artists that gain popularity. Mona Lisa shall always reminiscence Leonardo da Vinci and the pictures of Bhopal Gas Tragedy shall remind us of Raghu Rai, similarly a Thanjavur Painting, a Banarasi Sari, a Moradabad handicraft, A  Kallakurichi sandalwood statue etc should also make us remember not only the kings who started it but the name of the human being who generally lives a life behind the scene. Many of them have never played on the front foot, yet many are getting recognition for their work as a few dedicated organisations, Poompuhar being one among the few, are making the world know their name. They are raising their standards of living, they are imparting vocational training to many more artisans and generating employment in this sector, backed by good monetary returns. Moreover, these organisations are educating these individuals so that they come out of their old cocoons and witness the changes the world has seen in these many years. This shall lessen the gap that exists between the non-artisan and artisan population, which shall make it easier for the latter to incorporate changes based on the buyers’ choice.

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A Poompuhar organised competition for Next-Gen artisans.

Artisans who have vocational training in more than one art form may try permutation and combination which may result in the evolution of still newer art forms. But then again comes the argument of losing the original. This is a never ending debate, it’s us who has to choose between keeping a heritage alive or a family. If we are so keen on preserving culture, why don’t we adopt it along with our own families, rather than questioning the choices of others? It is after all them because of whom we know that such things even existed in time. Moreover, culture and heritage are parallel being formed along the line, and as layers come over layers, some get completely masked while some still continue to shine.

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Tanjore Painting workshop organised by Poompuhar which produced a 100 new registered artists.

India is unique, India is diverse and with a little more efforts we can preserve both the heritage and the heritage bearers. United as we are for many other causes, why not stand up for this one and join hands with organisations that are doing their every bit to make Indian crafts immortal.

3 thoughts on “Envisioning Revival of Indian Crafts”

  • […] In this age of mass production and abundance, handicrafts have stood the test of time and are a reason to celebrate the uniqueness of our culture and traditions. Indians, dating back to the early ages of civilizations, have developed handicrafts as a means of living. These handmade products are unique in their own style and every hand crafted product tells a story in a language of its own. Regional Handicrafts were developed using the materials available in that area using styles corresponding to their way of life. The hand crafted diyas from Tamil Nadu are very different from those made in Uttar Pradesh. Handicrafts are a part of our evolution and have molded and shaped our country’s rich cultural heritage. […]

    Reply
  • viswanathan

    good, If any body wants to procure and sell the selected items in European countries, whom should i contact in this regard. we are very particular for the items made in Tamil Nadu.The manufacturers is needed

    Thank you

    Reply
  • Swaminathan

    Hi
    I am product Designer based in Singapore and I am looking forward to meeting some artisans in wood, soap stone, cast iron, bronze around the Kumbakonam Thanjavur, Mayavaram areas.
    Can you please guide me.
    Thanks

    Reply
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