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A raft of crafts

Our country's diversity of crafts are cultures are on display at the Dastakar Bazaar that is concluding tomorrow

One is spoilt for choice at the Dastakar sale

IT NUMBS your senses, yet excites you in a strange way. Colourful and innovative Indian handicrafts can get to you. The Dastkar Bangalore Bazaar exhibition this year leaves you stumped, without an idea on where to start and stop buying. If you feel your pockets, I guess it's a good indicator, though! After giving Bangalore a miss for a year, it looks like the craftspersons want to make up with the city's handicrafts-crazy.

There's a mind-boggling variety of skirts, tops, kurtas, shawls, stoles, and dress material for women to chose from. Cotton, natural dyed fabric, earth colours are everywhere. Throw in loads of bags, batuas, purses, footwear, and jewellery and the women are ogling, drooling, and definitely buying frantically.

Dastkar has brought to Bangalore over 55 NGOs and crafts groups from all over the country it has been working with.

From all corners

What strikes you (if you bother to notice amidst all that colour and buying frenzy) is that most of these craftspersons seem to have been born out of circumstance and are in need — they are either those displaced by the Upper Krishna Project in Karnataka, or Bhuj earthquake victims from Gujarat, women's support groups, former camel herders of Rajasthan, villagers displaced when the Ranthambhore Tiger Park was formed, and so on and so forth. Most are from the minority and underprivileged communities, while others are traditional craftspersons.

Shanti Bai, a Lambani tribeswoman from the Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra, has come with the organisation's embroidered cushion covers, pouches, bags, and other accessories. She herself wears the embroidered and mirror-worked clothes. She says that around 300 Lambani women from a settlement near Sandur (in Karnataka) travel everyday by bus to get to the Kala Kendra and work on the craft products for a living.

Something different that will catch your eye is perhaps the papier maché heads of Rajasthani men with colourful cloth pagdis, ornate and Sanjhi, the unbelievable paper-cut work from Mathura, bead-worked flowers, animals and bangles from UP, terracotta masks and cutlery, wooden combs of all shapes and sizes, marmalades and jams from Womens' India Trust, and flavoured teas and herbs from Uttaranchal.

Breathtaking stuff

Don't miss the beautiful embroidered stoles, tops, and skirts made by the Bodo tribals from North-East, colourful crushed skirts from Ranthambhore, bandhini silk tops, soft woollen stoles, saris, and material from Tamil Nadu, Kalamkari and other material from Andhra Pradesh, leather jootis from Rajasthan, bedspreads and cushion covers in appliqué, mirror work, embroidery like the classy Urmul from the desert region of Marwar, appliqué work saris from Banas, Kasuti-embroidered saris and dupattas, export quality handbags and purses from our very own Karnataka at the Sabala stall, and much more.

What stands out at the exhibition is the contemporariness of everything — the products themselves, their designs, colours, and feel. Most organisations obviously draw the expertise offered by Dastkar to contemporise. Some even have their NIFT workshop certificates strung on the stands!

Obviously everyone is streaming in with the desi attitude and attire, an urge to help craftsmen, bag loads of money, and of course the desire to possess items of wonderful craft.


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