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  • Popular Handicraft villages in India

    No other country in the world can boast of its rich art and culture like India can. It is a country overflowing with various indigenous forms of art and handicrafts. Here artisans with special skills blend a myriad of colours forming hues of effervescent vibrancy.

    Handicraft is a way of life and primary source of income for the thousands of skilled workers all across the country. Handicraft villages are remotely located away from the hustle and bustle of big cities and it is here that artisans weave magic into articles that are so unique to the region.

    Image credit - wikimedia Image credit - wikimedia

    The rich diversity of India can be clearly seen in the wide range of handicrafts produced all over the country. Metal craft, wood craft, embroidery, woven fabrics, pottery, shell craft, glass craft, terracotta, paper craft and so much more. Some of these handicraft products can be used daily while some are for decorative purposes. Some of these handicrafts even have global approbation.

    Some of the popular handicraft villages include

    Brass handicraft of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh is famous the world over. The city is also known as Pital Nagri or Brass city. Metal engraving is a fine and a delicate art popular in this area. This can be seen in the enamelled jewellery as well as enamelled utensils produced in the area. You will find wine-cups, finger bowls, pillboxes etc., in both gold and silver sometimes studded with jewels.

    Thanjavur is another popular place for brass handicraft. The villages in Thanjavur have a rich tradition in making metal objects. Items like lamps, shallow dishes, and plates are characterized by designs of deities, birds, flowers, and geometric patterns beaten out from the back of copper and silver sheets and subsequently encrusted on a brass tray, kudam or panchpaathra.

    Kanchipuram is world famous for the finest silk produced in this area. Kanchipuram sarees are treated as priceless heirlooms by the women of the country as gold and silver threads are used for weaving patterns on the silk. Located in Tamilnadu, these sarees are source of income for most of the households in the village.

    Shilpagram is a popular handicraft village located in Agra. This craft village is an open emporium where craftsmen and artisans bring their unique and ethnic craft to sell. Being in the city of the Taj Mahal, this village attracts both domestic and international tourists to see and purchase the wonderful crafts of the region.

    Pipli in Orissa is famous for its appliqué work. This village owes its existence to this craft where motifs of Gods, animals, birds, flowers, leaves and shapes are stitched on to fabric within no time. Here you will find busy streets flaunting rows of shops selling appliquéd handbags, bed sheets, wall hangings, purses, pillow covers, canopies, garden umbrellas etc.

    Dakshinchitra located in Chennai is a centre for the living traditions of art, folk performing arts, craft, and architecture of South India. This village inspires to connect the rich traditional culture to the present and future.  The artefacts in the museum reflect the daily life in the Southern States. The museum contains a collection of books and journals pertaining to the arts, crafts, performance, anthropology, and folklore of South India. Various crafts are also taught at the centre.

    Kutch handicraft is a way of life in the villages around Kutch in Gujarat. Several villages in the area specialize in different kinds of handcraft like mirror inlaid work, different kinds of embroidery –(muthua, ahir, soof), Bhandini, tie and dye, block printing, embroidered footwear and much more.

    Handicraft is a way of life in most villages in India. For many it is the only source of livelihood. Popularising these handicrafts helps to keep the rich tradition and culture alive.

  • Revival of Our Handicrafts Industry: A Boon for Indian Artisans

    The handicraft sector is the second largest employment generator in villages, the first being agriculture. This is the largest decentralised and unorganized sector of the Indian economy. It is the craft of the people symbolising the inner desire and fulfilment of that particular community. These artisans form the backbone of the nonfarm rural economy.

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    India is a country that is by tradition very rich in art and craft. About seven million artisans in the country are engaged in some kind of handicraft. These handicrafts include pottery, mats, metal ware, weaving woodwork, etc. Most artisans have learned their skills from their parents and grandparents since cultural and family associations have a greater influence in India than market requirement or training. The handicraft industry is a home based one which requires very little expenditure, training or infrastructure to set up. The locally available materials and the individual skill is what is needed to make handicrafts.

    There were times when Indian handicraft received royal and aristocratic patronage, which is why Indian handicrafts are quite in demand the world over. Every piece of handicraft holds secrets, myths, and faiths that have transferred through generations both by the artisans and through people associated with it.

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    The agricultural community depends on the handicraft as a secondary source of income in case of drought, flood famine, or lean harvest.

    In the recent years, there has been a decrease in the number of artisans engaged in the handicraft industry. These artisans are engaged in manual labour work or are unemployed, giving up their high skills. One of the major reasons for this change is the commercially and machine-made cheaper alternatives available in the market. The limited exposure of the artisans to the market, loss of urban consumer interest, competition has also added to the decline of the handicraft industry. Today India adds only 2% to the global handicrafts market. Thus, you find that many of these artisans are living in abject poverty and economic conditions.

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    The government, the private, and the non-profit organizations have played a major role in trying to revive the handicraft industry. However, the impact has been isolated and limited. Much effort is required to completely revamp the handicraft industry using rural resources. Various organizations are helping by setting up exhibitions both domestically and globally to showcase the crafts produced by these artisans. These organizations are creating marketing opportunities for craftsmen to sell their products at a better price to a wider consumer base. They are using unique business models to create these market linkages from artisan to consumer, thus being profitable to all involved, especially the artisan.

    With the advancement of communication networks all across the country, it can be used positively to the artisan’s advantage. New designs, ideas, orders, and markets can be within the reach of the artisan with the right training. Educating customers too is an important part of revitalizing the handicraft industry. Today online marketing is a buzzword to buy and sell products. Some organizations are already connecting buyers and sellers directly online.

    The handicraft industry is very important for the country as it is the second largest employment generator in the rural sector. Efforts must be made to revitalize and develop it to its full potential. It is also an industry that helps to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the country. The new initiatives can help boost the lives of millions of artisans in the country.

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