There is art, and there is an artist. And then there are artisans who weave magic with their hands, connecting us with our roots. A melting pot of rich heritage passed down through generations, the Indian culture is dotted with a wealth of handcrafted elements providing a visual narrative enriched with love. From the age-old art of Kalamkari to the Patolas of Patan and Khavda Pottery of Rann of Kutch, the labour love enjoys loyal patronage in Indian and international markets.
And yet, when I looked into the Artisans of India, all I got was some dry facts about who they are, what they do, and their plight in sustaining the age-old traditional craft. We don’t need reports by agencies to know that these beautiful creations which enjoyed the patronage of aristocrats and royals in an era gone by have now taken a backseat. The craft is dwindling because tucked away in rural pockets, the craftsmen cannot cash in on the opportunities or match up to the global trends. With fewer possibilities in sight, the newer generation is moving on to more sustainable opportunities. And as a result, once revered, the artisans of India now are a rare sight. We must remember that rich cultural heritage is one of the reasons that bring us recognition on a global scale. Losing out on the keepers of this tradition will be like losing out on the essence in itself. Apart from keeping the legacy alive, promoting the artisans and their art can be used as an opportunity to promote employment opportunities, especially amongst the rural youth. So where do we start? The craft of India is as rich in history and diverse in culture as its many states. So, for now, I shall take you through three areas of rural craft that carries the soul of India in its art.
The Phulkari embroidery is an exquisite set of flower designs created with horizontal and vertical stitches. Going back to the 15th century, this traditional work of Punjab reflects the vivid charm and culture of its women. The imaginative me could imagine the women bonding over neighbourhood gossip and intricate embroidery done by being comfortable on the colourful charpoys! It isn’t a stretch to see them holding the homespun cotton khaddar, their hands weaving elaborate patterns with a string of silk floss. The beauty of Phulkari is that its intricate design has found followers in modern designs and contemporary settings. And going back to the charpoys, I imagine it would be fun to have a contemporary piece that would suit my city-style living room. I may not be able to weave those complex designs, but I sure can spin a fun story sitting on one of those furniture pieces. A Charmed Life has recently launched an initiative to support and promote artisans and their beautiful products. From Punjab, they bring you products by Virsa, handwoven durhies, handmade jewellery and beautiful furniture created using age-old techniques.
Combination of two words Kalam (Pen) and Kari (Craftsmanship) this word derived from a Persian word is a tell-tale sign of mythology depicted on a hand or block printed cotton fabric. The beauty of this art is that the dye colours are extracted from natural sources such as jaggery, mustard, or indigo. Drawn by its freestyle hand painting (Srikalahasti) and hand-carved blocks (Machilipatnam), Indian designers are bringing back Kalamkari big time in the form of sarees, pillow covers, and torans to name a few. We bring you beautiful handprinted Kalamkari cushions and home decor created by Shri Niranjan Jonnalagadda who works to ensure that he supports this art by teaching it on through Srikalahasti Kalamkari.
Introduced by the Mughals in India, the art of Meenakari creates bold and beautiful designs. The art involves enamelling various types of metals with luminous colours. The artisans or "Meenakars" as they are called create designs with skill, precision, and dedication. An expression of royal jewellery, Meenakari has found its presence in figurines, and other products such as cufflinks, containers, or frames. Popular across India, the artisans create products using techniques and styles known in their regions. Appreciated worldwide, Meenakari has incorporated modern demands while retaining its integrity, keeping the art alive. We bring you beautiful Meenakari Cufflinks by Mr. Deepak Sankit who is a master craftsman of Meenakari. He was born and brought up in the family of the master craftsman, Late Mr. Raj Kumar Sankit. Mr. Deepak Sankit won national Merit Award in 2003 for excellence in meenakari, An ancestral art legacy maintained by his family since 1880 AD.
Made with grit and determination, the Indian handicraft industry has stood the test of time, finding fame through the art it creates. And we must do our best to preserve the artisans and revive their former glory. Do shop our beautiful offerings sourced and brought to you directly from the artisans and the heart of India. This is an initiative in collaboration with Creative Dignity.