Indian culture is a motley of diverse traditions, norms, beliefs, religions, arts and aesthetics among many other beautiful things. Indian handicraft is one characteristic that comes first when someone talks about India. This years old traditional activity has become an identity of India globally. There are many skillful craftsmen in Indian heartland that are taking painstaking efforts to keep this prestigious labour work alive.
Indian handicraft is an art of making craft with hands with the skillful imagination. In ancient times, people lived in colonies known as tribal where they used to make utility products by hands as per the daily necessity, these are handicraft goods. Later, people started selling these products in local market called ‘HAAT’. With the changing times, people and their tastes expanded and today Indian Handicrafts industry is a sundry of a diversified product portfolio and there is large variety available in market including Metal ware, Wood ware, Hand printed textiles, Embroidered and crocheted goods, Shawls, Carpets, Bamboo products, Zari goods, Imitation jewellery, Paintings, Earthenware, Jute products, Marble Sculptures, Bronze Sculptures, Leather Products etc. You would be surprised to know how some artisans have spent their entire life worshipping their craft-work.
Following are such artisans from different parts of India who become renowned while working consistently towards their respective crafts-work.
- Madhukar Gawai. Bidri, Aurangabad-
Bidri originated in Bidar in Karnataka 800 years ago. Characterised by silver inlay work on black metal — an alloy of copper and zinc — it has a muted appeal unlike any other ornamental art. Madhukar Gawai was born in a remote village of Jawakheda in Maharashtra state. Raised by catholic priests, he learnt his craft of Bidri with them. At the age of 22 he began an apprenticeship with MD.Hussain, who was one of the top 5 craftsmen of bidri in the region of Bidar, Karnataka. Later, he started working with Asha Handcrafted Association. There was a time when artisans used to replace silver wire in Bidri with debase quality metal material, Gawai remained honest to his craft and used genuine quality material every time. His craft skills have been recognised by the Government of India as his name been included in the list of Master Craftsmen. Gawai was one of the three craftsmen to be felicitated at the recent Paramparik Karigar exhibition held in September 2008 in Mumbai.
If it weren’t for artisans like Gawai the art of Bidri would have faded long ago.. With prestigious recognition from Government and immense love of people, Gawai is very grateful to the craft he has accomplished.
Specimen of Bidri work
Vijay Soni. Paper Rangoli Making, Jaipur-
Vijay Soni from Jaipur, Rajasthan belongs to family who are occupants of Handicraft work. His family was locally popular to make Sanjhis, the beautiful Rangolis made out of cutting papers. Sanjhi Art is a truly unique craft form that features exquisite designs and intricate picture motifs, cut into paper. Craftsmen use specially designed scissors to accomplish this process. It was during 80’s when Vijay Soni started concentrating on work and with the dedication and passion, his work slowly became renowned in his State. In 2002, he won State award in craft excellence for his incredible work of paper rangoli making. He credits his ancestors for whatever he has learned about his craft. Now-a-days he is working with his family who are equally innovative in designing Sanjhis.
Specimen of Sanjhi Art
Vijay Joshi. Phad paintings, Rajasthan-
Vijay Joshi from Rajasthan started the practice of phad paintings at the age of 14. His artistic creations are not only in form of separate identity or unit but also presents in form of the panoramic display in the continuous series. The subjects of his creative presentation include mythological gods and goddess, folk tales and Indian historical events. The speciality of his paintings is the usage of only stone colours and traditional materials. His phad painting depicts the advanced stage of Rajput School of art. The uniqueness and novelty of his phad painting is primarily based on the mythological stories related of be lives and achievements of various Hindu gods such as Pabuji, Devnarayan, Ramdala (Related of the Ramayana) and Krishnadala related to the Lord Krishna.
Mr. Vijay Joshi has his own painting institute named Phad Painting, Training and Research Institute in Rajasthan. He is constantly on wheels to various institutes across India for the workshops and lectures on Phad paintings. He believes that a good art needs to be spread out to as many people as possible; and so he is deliberately working towards this ambition.
You may log on to his website for more details: www.phadpainting.com
Specimen of Phad Paintings
- Ramprasad Patwa. Semi-Precious Jewellery, Mumbai –
Ramprasad Patwa was born in the village of Nevada Isahakpur in Sultanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. After finishing School he came to Bombay and start selling costume jewelry made personally with cast iron. In 1989, he started working with Asha Handicraft Association, during this time he actively associated with US based designers which he believes expanded his horizons as a creative person.
Currently Patwa has his own team of creative people which works along with him. His innovative jewellery designs are favourite in fashion circuit in all over India. His work has been appreciated by many designers from Mumbai like Gulshan Kavra, who entirely used only Patwa’s designs in one of his fashion shows in 2011.
Specimen of Semi-Precious Jewellery
- Mohammad Ayaz. Horn and Bone, Uttar Pradesh –
Mohd Ayaz is a son of Gulam Abbas, an artisan himself. The father-son duo work together into these particular handicrafts made from bone and horns. They established their company in 1975. Gulam Abbas was intrigued to see the ornaments made of bones and horns on his visit to one tribal village; he learned the craft and later started making different handicraft products out of it.
Specimen of Handicraft Showpiece made up of Horn and Bone.
The enchanting beauty of products made out of bones and horn is one great tourist attraction in local area. The small business of Gulam Abbas has gained quite a momentum with their team of 50 workers who makes around 500 products daily. The Government of UP has presented him the State Award in craft excellence for his extensive work in handicraft.
Artisan is the backbone of each handicraft work. From an artisan to worker everyone works relentlessly to create a single piece of their craft. There are certain organizations in India who work towards the well-being of artisans, their contribution is helping to preserve the artistic values in artists from various layers of the society. They are –
MESH (Maximising the Employment to Serve the Handicapped) is an important Indian organisation that practices fair trade with disabled and leprosy affected handicraft artisans from all parts of India, for their rehabilitation and self-sufficiency. The main shop and centre of MESH is located in New Delhi, India.
Okhai is one organization in Ahmedabad that works toward the betterment of artisan ladies from the rural area of Gujarat. They provide self-sufficiency by providing them opportunities regarding their craft skills. The organisation has helped more than 650 artisans till now and with their exponential team they are now helping out creative people from outside Gujarat.
To flourish the work of handicrafts it is very vital to appreciate the hard-work of artisans behind it. With the formidable culture of our country, there should be immense respect for the artisans. There are still many unknown artists hidden in the various parts of country, to make them resurface, both public interest and Government support is essential as they make our country proud.