Out of a million coloured strands of diverse art tradition? is forged our rich craft heritage — Kamladevi Chattopadhyay

It is a celebration of these “million coloured strands” of diverse crafts at Crafts Bazaar 2009 which opens in the city today. Coming together in a variegated mosaic of handicrafts and textiles is the work of 160 reputed artisans and master craftspersons, who have carved an entire lifestyle out of the environment, at once unique, aesthetic and rare.

Mud, grass, cane, bamboo, paper, metal, wood and stone? each form, format and impression melds ancient, traditional skills with products of contemporary relevance.

Leather, palm leaf and silk bear imprints of folk and classical art while textiles and weaves pay tribute to a continuing yet timeless tradition. Paithani, Kalamkari, Gadhwal, Maheshwari, Chanderi and tribal cloth from Korapad are on display as are block printed and dyed materials in a palette inspired by Nature. To match the exuberant mood is a range of snazzy, new age jewellery crafted out of silver, glass, beads, jute, terracotta and pearls.

Timeless appeal

Some five centuries ago, Francois Bernier and Tavernier, European travellers in Mughal India, recorded their wonder at the immense variety and beauty of “Hindoostan’s handcrafted treasures” that they saw at the bazaars. Craft Bazaar 2009 continues to uphold the flavour and spirit of that tradition.

This exhibition is a joint programme of the Crafts Council of India with the Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. The bazaar is an annual event held by the CCI, a voluntary craft NGO, to salute the creativity of artisans from all parts of the country and to give them exposure as well as a solid marketing platform. It is an exercise of direct interaction between the craft creator and the client, between the maker and the market.

A platform for artisans

According to Vijaya Rajan, chairperson, CCI, “Crafts must become an integral part of our every day life, if they are to survive. Events such as the annual Crafts Bazaars provide a platform to showcase the innovation and quality our craftsmen are capable of. The aesthetics and diversity of our handicrafts and handlooms are only too well known. However, when 200 craftspersons exhibit their wares under one roof, it is quite an eye opener. The craftspersons too benefit enormously in becoming quality conscious when exposed to such events. The feedback from the participating craftsmen in the past years has been encouraging. They are keen to participate in future bazaars. Frankly, it is these responses that make CCI’s work with artisans worth the while.”

The results are there for all to see in the explosion of quality products on view? from pottery, terracotta, jute and banana fibre items to dhurries, embroidered wall hangings, Kerala murals, gem stone paintings, lacquer ware and eco friendly jewellery. So while one browses around picking up unusual cut work ‘jutti’, stunning copper flowers, rare blue and black pottery or a magical Maheshwari, one may run into master artisan Ishwarudu from Machilipatnam whose Kalamkari Persian roses on saris and fabric were inspired by the great Kalamkari revivalist, Nellie Sethna. Or you could meet Shivlal from Rajasthan whose painted blue pottery vases, bowls, and tiles with floral designs make classic statements.

Abdul Majid Suleman Khatri from Bhuj is most likely to unveil his matchless vegetable dyed Ajrakh fabrics himself. Or Rajesh and Rakesh Patra from Orissa will reveal the magic that transforms the humble ‘Sabai’ grass into colourful boxes, bags and mats. The psychedelic colours of UP’s Bhadohi grass artefacts will cast their allure at the bazaar along with Kantha work and Kashida embroidered saris and fabric. And for gift options, there are Bidri worked decorative pieces, Swamimalai bronzes and beautiful brass ware from U.P. that call for attention.

All these and much more await one at Crafts Bazaar 2009, which will be inaugurated by the Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala, this evening at 5 p.m. at Valluvar Kottam, Nungambakkam. The exhibition is on till September 27.

More In: Crafts | Arts