Advent of Gujarati crafts, artisans in the capital

New Delhi, Sep 14 (IANS) To revive the dying Gujarati crafts legacy, NGO Craftroots will give a chance to 45 craft forms from Gujarat to be showcased and sold at its newly opened store in the heart of the national capital.

Located in Meharchand Market in Lodi Colony here, it is the first Craftroots store outside Gujarat.

Craftroots was started two years ago to empower artisans by bringing together designers and technology to revive the traditional crafts.

“We are connected with more than 25,000 artisans across 45 craft forms. We work with 2,500 volunteers from 30 countries at its 8 centres,” NGO founder Anarben Patel told IANS.

Apart from its centres spread across Patan, Mehsana, Kachchh, Bhavnagar and Bharuch, the organisation also has tie-ups with 25 big NGOs spread across the country.

“Alongside the Gujarati craft, we also have artisans and works from the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Huge income generation can be provided by promoting craft. I wish that craft is soon looked at as an industry that can employee more than 2 crore people.”

The mega store offers its customers a tribal atmosphere with mud paintings on the walls and traditional attractions like bandhni, rogan, mashru, ajrakh, stonework, brass, pottery, patchwork, beadwork; lacquer, batik, block printing; leather products, Matani Pachhedi, Warli and handmade paperwork amongst others, on display.

It’s beautiful to see stories of people depicted through hand works on sheets, sarees and stoles. The store also has artistic mud works on the walls that people can acquire for their houses by hiring artisans from Craftroots.

“Initially, we thought that the craftsmen in Gujarat lagged behind in terms of marketing but after two exhibitions we realized that the problem is actually with designing, product development, and enhancement in scale,” said Patel adding: “The artisans are not much aware about technological upgradation or the city trends and that is the problem we addressed.”

“We adore the creative works in the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh that are flooded with craft. We buy fabrics available there and provide them to our artisans. There is an urge to indulge people from these states soon,” Patel said.

“The plan is to bring people from every part of the country. We would now move to Kashmir and the northeastern states,” she added.

One of the artisans, Akshay is the seventh generation in his family taking forward the legacy of craft.

“My father has been associated with Craftroots for past 20 years. I and my brother have been learning it since childhood as we didn’t have interest in studies,” the 20-year-old told IANS.

“I like my job as the working environment is very suitable and the job is also nice,” he said.

Craftroots works with more than 2,000 women in the slum, low-income areas of Ahmedabad and other rural regions of Gujarat.

Craftroots mentor and former Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel said that women associated with the organisation work at their convenience as they are home-based.

“Craftroots is working towards the creation of an encouraging ecosystem for the crafts with an aim to add value to the progress of artisans — the carriers of these ancient traditions,” a statement quoted her as saying.

Profits, from the sale of products, support programmes in health, education, personal finance and leadership training.

–IANS

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