Tradition meets contemporary at the Indian section of Abhushan: Design Dialogues in Jewellery. Organised by the World Crafts Council in Delhi next month, the summit opens new windows of opportunities to Indian artisans.

Abhushan ? or personal adornment with jewellery ? is an intrinsic part of the Indian civilisational ethos. Going back in dazzling continuum to 5000 years, the country's jewellery links together Harappa's necklace of gold, silver, faience, clay and shells, Vishnu's ?Vyjayanthi' made of diamond, pearls, ruby, emerald and blue sapphire, ?Kalidasa's Shakuntala decked in jewellery made of flowers, the lyrical jewellery worn by gods, goddesses and nayikas in sculptures and painting, the evolving beauty of jadau, kundan and temple jewellery, the timeless appeal of tribal ornaments fashioned out of feather, grass, clay, bead and bone and the contemporary forms of today.

Auspicious symbols

The traditionally ?auspicious' symbolism of jewellery made it mandatory wear for Indian women from the privileged woman's ornaments of gold and precious stones to her poor sisters ?adorned' with coloured thread round their necks, copper wire nose rings or tinkling glass bangles. The pervasive presence of jewellery, particularly of gold, gave India the sobriquet of sone ki chidia in ancient times, described as a country ?whose particles of earth are like rubies and corals???

So it seems only fitting that Abhushan: Design Dialogues in Jewellery, organised by the World Crafts Council in Delhi on February 4, 5 and 6 has a significant Indian presence comprising unique jewellery expressions spanning antique masterpieces, fusion jewellery and contemporary forms crafted out of reed, grass, paper, thread, copper wire, seed and any recyclable material.

According to Nina Kothari, Chairperson of the Abhushan Jewellery Summit, ?The central focus of Indian jewellery expressions, in tune with the aim of Abhushan, is on the exploration of how common everyday natural, eco-friendly materials can be transformed into exquisite jewellery. Rooted in the essence of Indian craft traditions the Indian jewellery section looks to the contemporary milieu to experiment, innovate and create?.?

Exploding with colour and creativity, the Abhushan Craft Bazaar underlines the Jewellery Summit's unique theme of jewellery made out of natural, eco-friendly recyclable material. The creative oeuvre of 30 Indian artisans will be on view fashioned out of terracotta, grass, bead, fibre, jute, stone, bone, paper, seeds, shells, brass, metal ...

While tribal and folk jewellery is the predominant genre, the vast range on display catches the sheer excitement of creativity unleashed and colours unbound. Beautifully crafted paper earrings, necklaces in a sunburst of colours, jute jewellery with lovely folk motifs, delicately nuanced wood malas teamed with engraved silver pendants, thread jewellery reminiscent of nuanced embroidery, intricately carved sandalwood jewellery, painted grooved and etched terracotta neckpieces and earrings and so much more are on display and sale. The aim of the Craft Bazaar is to facilitate direct interface between artisan and buyer.

Meeting point

The Abhushan Designer Gallery features the work of the country's leading jewellery designers who fuse classical forms such as temple jewellery, jadau and minakari with each other and with wood, bone, fibre, beads, metals in meaningful design relevant to the contemporary milieu. Traditional and edgy design ?classic' and non-conventional materials and formats meet at the Designer Gallery exhibition and sale in a ?jugalbandi' of minakari and temple jewellery, tribal motifs and paper beads, antique copper coins and carved wood, gem stones and thread, gold repousse work and recycled material, silver jaali craft and grass and so on.

The ?Abhushan Fine Jewellery Treasures' pays tribute to legendary masterpieces of Mughal, jadau and South Indian temple jewellery. Classic exclusivity and timeless craftsmanship is the leitmotif of this exhibition and sale.

But perhaps the most meaningful part of ?Abhushan: Design Dialogues in Jewellery' for the Indian artisan will be his participation in the 10-day Craft Exchange Programme and Workshop. It will focus on traditional jewellery fashioned in modern design and for contemporary usage. The Indian artisan will be exposed to the latest techniques in design, innovation and craftsmanship.

The workshop aims at creating a pool of artisans and designers trained to highest international standards in complementing traditional jewellery and to compete with the best in alternative jewellery in both international and national markets.

The workshop will be conducted by leading jewellery designers drawn from the five WCC regions of North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific Region and Africa. Their focus will be jewellery expressions crafted out of paper, fibre, tin cans, aluminium, leather scraps and so on.

?Abhushan: Design Dialogues in Jewellery' closes on February 7 while opening new windows of perceptions and opportunities for growth for India's jewellery artisans.

Abhushan: Design Dialogues in Jewellery will be held at Hotel Ashok, New Delhi, from February 4-6. For more info, visit www.worldcraftscouncil.org

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