The first thing that you see is the beautifully etched Chittara murals against a green background at the entrance of the store. Executed by rural artisans, the charming stick figures offer inviting pictures of their bucolic existence that unfortunately is a far cry from reality. The Indian artisan may produce a mind-boggling variety of highly aesthetic products, but he is also marginalised and ignored by mainstream, middle-class India leading to a constant struggle for survival.
The Grameena Angadi, which as the name suggests, is a shop showcasing products created by rural artisans, aims at bridging this gap. The store carried an eclectic range of products including jewellery, clothes, home accessories, food and bags all created by village self-help groups, mostly women.
“I come from a family of artisans — we used to make handmade brooms,” says B. Rajashekara Murthy, director and founder of this enterprise. “The new economic policies of the 1990 has ended up marginalising our unorganised sector. Large multinational corporations have entered the market and the rural industry is in trouble. These artisans do not have access to large scale marketing campaigns and cannot mass manufacture their products. There is also the problem of the various middle-men who eat into the already slim profits.”
This is what the shop aims to do. The store, which falls under the hiatus of the Grameena Karakushala Udyama (a trust formed by around 200 artisans) sources products directly from the rural artisan ensuring that they get fully compensated for their work. The shop started initially as a tiny 10 by 10 space but its scope has expanded over time. The present store, which was launched earlier this year, is two levels of sheer delight — a dizzying medley that will leave a casual shopper spellbound.
The first level stocks handloom that hail from different regions of the State including Bijapur, Gadag, Udupi, Bellary, Koppal and Raichur while most of the handicrafts are found in the lower level.
Handloom cotton saris with thick borders, jostle with thick, jewel-coloured silk-cotton and whispering silk. Khaddar kurtas in a variety of colours fill the shelves as do block-printed kurtas and kalamkari sets. The mirror-embossed, quilted bags created by the Lambani women of the Sandur district is sheer poetry as is the vibrant, terracotta jewellery.
There are items made from Lavancha roots and bamboo, naturally scented incense sticks from Shimoga, spherical, jute lamps from Kengeri and white metal jewellery from Bijapur. There is also an interesting variety of foodstuffs including organic food grains, a variety of pickles, Coorg honey, chikki and ground spices. Beauty products made of completely natural ingredients line another shelf — soap, shampoo, face-packs and oils.
“All the goods we stock are perfectly suited for the Indian climate and lifestyle. Both the buyer and the artisan will benefit by using these products,” says Rajashekara.
The shop is located at No 8,11th Main, 39th A Cross, 4th T Block, Jayanagar, Opposite Shalini playground.