Celebrating the fusion of tradition with imagination, creativity with business know-how, the South African pavilion at Pragati Maidan’s Hall No. 18 hosting the 14-day India International Trade fair here greets visitors with a multitude of hand-made items. With South Africa accorded the status of Focus Country at IITF this year, it is showcasing an array of interesting products under the South African Handmade Collection, a prominent brand.
Aesthetically designed cars made of wires, plastic bags, toys and souvenirs like brightly coloured papier mache bowls and plates emblazed with colourful tribal pictures are an amalgam of traditional craft and modernity.
Johannesburg’s exhibitor L.T. Matebane is displaying a host of products like colourful plates which have been produced by differently-abled and mentally-challenged South Africans. “We run a school in which we impart training to physically and mentally-challenged people to produce goods for the South African Handmade Collection. The idea is to provide them employment. Since they can neither read nor write, we can only enhance their skills which can provide their livelihood.”
She is selling plates which are emblazoned with proud members of tribal community. Two flower pots are on sale for Rs.2,930.
Jabulani, an artist, has come up with a platter on which Zulu warriors and village life have been artistically depicted. “I have enhanced the beauty by having green huts in the background.” He is also selling a plate on which zebras have been inscribed.
In addition to beads, grass, leather, fabric and clay, the products are made using telephone wires, plastic bags, petrol cans and bottle tops. Even food tin labels are used to create papier mache bowls.
The Chinese Pavilion is also in Hall No. 18. Nicole Liao, a Chinese salesgirl who is managing a stall displaying hand-made purses, says she is looking for business deals. “We are participating in the Fair to find wholesalers who can give us business. Some of the purses are priced at Rs.95 but if Indians order in bulk the price would increase due to high freight cost.”
King from Zhejiang province is selling blankets for the first time at IITF. “We have come to promote friendly ties. We came to the trade fair on November 12 and are serious on doing business with Indian wholesalers.”
Chinese crockery and products like balls of different shapes are also up for grabs at these stalls.
Egypt’s Kamal Anwar, a regular at IITF, has brought with him souvenirs of Egyptian pharaohs, hookahs and stools in which camel skin has been used.
Most of his products are priced over Rs.1,000 but he attributes the high cost to the freight charges.
Bangladesh’s Abdul Baki has come up with exquisite bed sheets which have been prepared by downtrodden women. “Every bed sheet which is sold not only gives me revenue but also supports our large families of weavers.”
He has been participating regularly at fairs in Kolkata but is displaying his handmade works at IITF for the first time.
Sixty companies from the Republic of Belarus, which is the Partner Country this year, have put up their stalls. The companies deal with infrastructure development, food products, beverages, leather and rubber products, petro chemicals, automobiles and optical devices.
Unfortunately they are only looking for business partners. So non-business visitors can at the most marvel at their technological excellence, go through their brochures and try some chocolates and cookies.