Thanks to the CCAP’s efforts, women skilled in the Banjara style of embroidery have returned to their craft and earn a cool Rs. 4 lakh-Rs. 5 lakh a year

At some point in the late 80s, families skilled in the unique Banjara style of embroidery at Yellamma Thanda in Ibrahimpatnam mandal stopped doing what they were good at and started migrating to the capital in hope of a better life.

The very existence of their distinctive needlework, passed on through generations to the Banjara women in that region, was under threat.

Today, the same women from Yellamma Thanda have formed self-help groups, sell their own unique Banjara embroidery designs independently and earn anywhere between Rs. 4 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh per year. This change in attitude did not happen overnight.

“It took concerted efforts for over a decade to change their perceptions. We had to work really hard to make them feel confident about their innate talent. We did not try to change their traditional skills but suggested a few changes to suit the contemporary tastes of buyers,” says Secretary, Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh (CCAP), Meena Appnender.

Exhibition on July 10

Since 1987, the CCAP, an affiliate of Crafts Council of India (CCI), has been promoting crafts, helping craftsmen upgrade their skills in-sync with modern times and improve their employment prospects. The non-profit organisation also holds an annual three-day exhibition ‘Aakruthi Vastra Textile Collection’. This year, the exhibition is being held from July 10 at Kamma Sangham, Ameerpet.

“Every year at the exhibition, we set aside four to five stalls for needy artisans, which help them develop a loyal customer base. We support them for two to three years till they are independent and confident. Over the years, the exhibition has become popular in Hyderabad,” CCAP members point out.

More success

Apart from their exploits at Ibrahimpatnam, the CCAP has also tasted success in restoring the languishing silver filigree art in Kurnool district. The local silver filigree artisans were patronised by the Nizams and thrived in their craft work. However, things began changing after the Nizams, as support for their craftsmanship started to dwindle.

“We took up survey and documentation of the silver filigree art in Kurnool district. We also started holding workshops by roping in the local artisans and encouraged them to take up marketable designs without diluting the quality of art work. There is no looking back now for these artisans,” says Ms. Appnender says.

There are several such success stories in which members of CCAP, comprising entirely of volunteers with a passion for native crafts, endeavour to preserve rare craftsmanship.

“Till recently, the Etikoppaka craftsmen in Visakhapatnam were struggling to sell their toys because they were using chemical colours. We organised several workshops on natural dyes for them. Today, many who underwent the training are able to export their work to Europe and US,” she says.

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