A "treasure hunt" that is unlikely to end up in disappointment, this January has the best of India on offer at Dilli Haat in the Capital. With the first National Tribal Crafts Expo finally taking off, it will be shopping for a cause all the way at this exhibition.

Inaugurated on January 1 by Tribal Affairs Minister P.R. Kyndiah, the two-week-long craft expo is an initiative of the Tribal Co-operative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED) aimed at promoting tribal products.

An attempt to support individual efforts of tribal artisans so that they can sustain their art and crafts, the expo hopes to provide them with a livelihood generating opportunity. As part of their initiative, Tribal Artisan Mela, TRIFED has been picking talent by calling artisans from different parts of the country for an exhibition and deputing its merchandising team to visit these fairs and pick items that can be marketed through its outlets.

From metal to terracotta and textile to bamboo and jewellery, the expo will showcase an array of products that are eco-friendly and crafted from naturally available raw materials. The metal section will offer a breathtaking range of metal crafts by tribal artisans of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal, with the two traditions of bronzes using cire perdue and the iron smithy method being on display here.

Showcased in the tribal textile section will be an inventive range that will provide a glimpse of the colour that Indian has on offer. Be it the work of North-Eastern women who make shawls, blankets and wraps in their free tome to the tribals of Andhra Pradesh who combine shells with mirror and fabric to create interesting cushion covers and plastic mats, everything from cushion covers to bed covers and dupattas to table cloths and saris will be on offer at the expo.

With jewellery having always had a special place in the life of tribals, the expo will also present traditional necklaces in beads, coins and buttons among others. Also available will be tribal paintings ranging from the Worli tradition to the Gond one and Pithora to Palm leaf painting.

For those with a love for natural products, there will be enough to choose, too, what with the expo offering a variety of organic and natural products.

A good place to pick up that special gift, the expo is being seen as an opportunity for the artisans to interact with urban consumers and understand their needs. This will help them adapt their products to market needs and demands while keeping their ethnicity intact. -- Lakshmi B. Ghosh

-- Lakshmi B. Ghosh