Andhra Pradesh

An earnest effort to revive indigenous art and crafts

Artisans use flowers to naturally dye cotton yarn at the Sankalp Art Village in Visakhapatnam.   | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

At Sankalp Art Village (SAV) at Pedagadi, about 46 kilometres from Visakhapatnam, the air is filled with the periodic chirrup of birds and the click-clack of the spinning wheel.

Under a thatched shelter, a pair of deft hands spin out yarns from the wheel while at another corner a woman boils myrobalan (haritaki) to prepare the natural dyes for the yarns. The hum of the wheel is interspersed with a sound of a distant chisel at work coming from within a compound wall nearby. Here, coconut shells are being transformed into cups and wooden toys being given shape. This small Andhra Pradesh-based production centre of naturally dyed handloom, wooden toys and products is slowly making its way into international markets and major cities across India. The self-sustainable unit supports seven families of artisans in its Pedagadi facility and 15 families of weavers in Palakollu where its handloom unit is based.

“There is a growing preference towards sustainable living and in the past one year during the pandemic, it has been more pronounced. The demand is particularly increasing for naturally-dyed fabrics and pre-designed kids’ wear. We are catering for a US-based firm and startups and enterprises in Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad,” says Jameelya Akula, creative design head of Sankalp Art Village.

At Sankalp, the yarns are coloured with dyes made with plant seeds and roots like annato seeds, manjista roots, turmeric, pomegranate and onion peels, eucalyptus bark and fenugreek seeds.

A concept that began about eight years ago, the seed of the idea was sown much before that. “We came here from Rajahmundry and have been managing a nursery since 1997. With the zeal for making herbal dyed fabrics, we started to look for artisans doing the craft of weaving natural handlooms and making wooden handicrafts. Our aim was to revive the indigenous art and crafts that were on the verge of dying and create a platform for artisans to improve their designs and help them in marketing,” says A. Chalapati Rao, founder of SAV.

According to Ms. Jameelya, who completed her course in product design from UPES School of Design in Dehradun, the game-changer in the sustainable products segment has been the increasing preference for schools supporting alternative learning methodologies like Montessori and Waldorf which stresses on wooden toys. “We have bagged orders from some of these prominent schools,” she says. “We have also launched our kids’ wear segment which is packaged in eco-friendly boxes and are available for orders in Amazon and through our website,” she adds. While the pandemic came with its own set of challenges, the weavers of Sankalp Art Village did not stop production. “It gave us time to create our stock and understand the market better to improvise our designs. The handloom production and dyeing is a laborious process. Each weaver can weave up to 10 metres per day. The making of wooden toys is an equally taxing process,” says Ms. Jameelya. Last month, Sankalp opened its store at Pandurangapuram in the city, which it hopes will open up more avenues for the weavers and craftsmen of its unit.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 6:24:20 AM |

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