Crafts word reminds me of my art class and the look in my mother’s eyes when she used to show the items to others by saying – “this is handcrafted, my elder daughter did it.”
Simply defining, crafts comprises of all those activities and hobbies that are related to making things with one’s own hands and skill. This can, then, be further divided into handicrafts or traditional crafts. Some crafts have been practiced for centuries, while others are modern inventions, or popularization of work that was originally practiced in a very small geographic area. And the sincerity of those craftsmen is evident when they want to pursue this job for the love of it even its not giving them enough to eat & live. They lived with their crafts, teaching the same to their children – who became the future master of the skill.
Indian craft sector is very vivid – you start from the one corner & by the time you reach the other corner, you will have seen tremendous range of products, made using different local material & authentic techniques.
Recently I got a chance to attend a workshop on Indian and South African crafts. It was a wonderful experience to sit & work with those people – especially when you have to talk in sign language or finding another ways to communicate. Gujarati people were ok with Hindi & South African well versed with English. But craftsmen were from Orissa and it was interesting to see the ways in whch those guys talked with each other. I think it’s the enthusiasm to learn new things that made them to work together.
I loved it when Zulu guys dressed up in their style – with lots of beadwork and their unique way of wearing the hat and beaded hairs. Zulus are people who reside in the province of Kwazulu/natal. Their beadwork is very special in its own might because of the color, patterns and the sizes of beads. On the other hand, Gujrat’s artisian beadwork has different color palette & design pattern though technique of doing it is almost same. Historically, this technique and skill came from East Africa and then was first adopted by mochi tribe (people who do leather work). With time, people started using other beads also but glass beads still have its own charm.
Talking about appliqué work, Africans stress on story while Indian comes up with own pictures. African artists use cotton and other thick clothes with beads and colorful threads while Gujrati craftswomen stitch organdy, cotton and other fabric with beads and embroidery that happens on leather too. The fact that Gujarat is best known for Textiles & handicrafts clearly indicates its uniqueness.
Pat-chitra katha, which is an unique kind of painting on palm leaf with story narration on it and Dogra craft – belongs to Orissa state. Doing dogra work is awesome in its own. Fine wax threads are used to do intricate work and then casting. With metals taking place of wax, it’s quite a revelation to know that the fragile melting wax thread was responsible for such fine work.
More interesting and refreshing stuff comes up when the existing and awesome crafting skills meets with innovative minds. That’s is called design intervention. This is where craft and design goes to market to match the criteria of trends & buyers, and comes up with awesome results.