Handicrafts : A Dying Art?

“People without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture are like a tree without its roots.”

Handicrafts are often the distillation of culture and practices of an entire region. They are perfected over generations and centuries, and reflect changes in customs and sensibilities of the people who make them. From across India, handicrafts were ubiquitous in their respective regions. But time has left these ancient crafts behind; the craftsmen who persevered to keep their traditions alive have been deserted by styles of the modern era.

These traditional arts and crafts of India are dying due to modernisation and technological developments. These ‘handmade tales’ of India are on the verge of extinction and are getting replaced by machine made products.

Protecting the skills and knowledge of the handicrafts is the most difficult challenge. The problem here is that handicrafts are not as profitable as the other industries which is why not many show enthusiasm in this form. They are expensive because of the hard work that goes into making them, which is why they are only consumed by the few elites in the country. But a country like India- which is on the global map primarily for its rich cultural heritage- if begins to lose it, then the essence in itself will be lost.

The Art-Form also employs a lot of labour and with our growing unemployment ratio in the country, it would make sense if we could employ this unemployed labour in the handicraft industry so that the art does not die while ensuring that unemployment reduces, benefitting the economy and making it probable that the handicrafts become less expensive to be afforded by the mass as well.

To bring back this art in the market, the craftsmen and the artisans need to understand the market and its promotional strategies. In a growing technology-run and industrialised world, people are increasingly forgetting the traditional crafts and moving towards new innovation. Due to this, artisans are moving to alternative income generation methods, for instance — daily wage labour and farming; and art is losing its grip.

Some of such art-forms that need our immediate attention are-

  • Rogan Painting, Gujarat

The Rogan art of painting is an ancient art and Nirona in Kutch is the only place in the world where this work is created. Rogan printing is an art of cloth printing practiced in the Kutch, and Gafoor Daud Khatri is one of the most famous Rogan painters in India.

  • String Puppetry, Odisha

String Puppetry of Kendrapara also called as Sakhi Kandhei used to be a popular show in Odisha but the centuries-old art of string puppetry is slowly dying, and Fakir Singh of Palakana village in Kendrapara district is one of the few craftsmen left in the State.

  • Thokra Art, Chattisgarh

Chhattisgarh state is well known for the Metal Craft and Dhokra art, sometimes known as tribal art of India. Dhokra is a metal casting art of religious images, horses and elephants.This tribal art was found all over India, but not anymore.

The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people, and art is an effort to create besides the real world, a humane world. It is high time that these art forms are revived and awareness about them is spread across urban space. Let’s move towards a world where handcrafted items are given due respect and the artisans get the recognition they deserve; it’s all that we have left.

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