Andhra Pradesh

Budithi brass craft on the brink of extinction

An artisan engaged in making brass pots at one of the few surviving units at Budithi in Srikakulam district.

An artisan engaged in making brass pots at one of the few surviving units at Budithi in Srikakulam district.   | Photo Credit: T_APPALANAIDU

Collapse of cooperative society triggers mass migration of artisan families

The tiny village of Budithi on the Vamsadhara river belt in Srikakulam district is missing the sonorous sounds from the bell and brass craft units, which had been a part of its daily life till a few years ago, with the rural craft on the brink of extinction.

Now, less than 10 units are surviving with nearly 40 artisans in the village and only six of them carve the intricate motifs on a brass sheet while the others confine to a single product, the pot, a two-piece brass vessel.

“The Common Facility and Production Centre (CFPC) set up in 1981 was shut down by our cooperative society due to irregularities in its management in 2001, triggering migration of a majority of the artisan families. Until then, our craft had flourished with at least 40 units which engaged more than 110 artisan families,” Karanam Rama Rao tells The Hindu.

Mr. Rama Rao and his three-member team run one of the three units at Budithi. The CFPC building is now abandoned and in a dilapidated state.

Financial aid lacking

Craftsman Korapaka Appala Raju, who migrated to Hyderabad and returned to revive Mr. Rama Rao’s unit, says, “At least 75% of the artisan families who migrated in early 2000 have settled in various cities and taken up different works, except their traditional occupation.”

The raw material, brass sheet, imported from Madhya Pradesh, has become quite expensive and unaffordable for the existing units.

“We were only used to producing the brass vessel, the pot. Last year, we were trained by the government in design development, but no authority is coming forward to offer loans for expansion of our units,” laments 23-year-old craftsman K. Malleswara Rao.

As claimed by artisans, two centuries ago their ancestors had migrated from Budaravalasa and Gangada area in Vizianagaram district to Budithi. Kintada Krishna Rao Achari, an expert in motif designing, reveals that only six craftsmen could draw motifs on the brass sheet. “Our craft is on the brink of extinction. In my family, none of my three children has chosen it. Isn’t it a sign for the slow death of my craft?” he bemoans.

GI tag

The Budithi bell and brass craft was registered under the Geographical Indications Registry (GIR) in 2008 but many artisans are not aware of it. The GI tag certifies the geographical area of the craft only to Budithi, Cheedipudi and Avalangi villages in Saravakota mandal of Srikakulam district.

On the other hand, the Andhra Pradesh Handicrafts Development Corporation (APHDC-Lepakshi) is claiming on its official website that 500 craftsmen are engaged in the craft (as on November 1, 2019), contrary to the ground realities, exposing how it has lost its connection with the rural craft.

According to APHDC General Manager I.V. Lakshminath the share of the annual procurement of the Budithi craft products for the Lepakshi stores is negligible and does not cross ₹5 lakh.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 10:40:35 PM |

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