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'Handmade in India' - encyclopedia on crafts of India
30
Sep '08
Handmade in India, An encyclopedia of the crafts of India is a tribute to the Indian craftsperson and is organized by the geographical distribution of the crafts across all states and regions of the country.

The Indian craftsperson has demonstrated an uncanny understanding of materials, which is combined with a mastery of the tools, techniques, and processes that have evolved over the centuries through social and cultural interactions, a tribute to the creative design abilities of the village society.

A source book of handicrafts, Handmade in India is a unique compendium of Indian crafts. It is a resource of the craft repertoire that reflects the diversity of the country, its cultural milieu and the relationships that nurture creativity and ingenuity.

This encyclopedic publication maps the crafts of the country, and captures the traditions that have enriched the day-to-day lives of Indian people while being a source of livelihood for generations of crafts persons.

Handmade in India probes into all aspects of the handicrafts – historical, social and cultural influences on crafts, design and craft processes, traditional and new markets, products and tools – unraveling a wealth of knowledge.

Handmade in India is based on extensive field work and research, and maps out regional craft clusters identified across the country on the basis of prevailing craft-work patterns.

It is closely woven with images to reveal the array of crafts in India. Some of these are renowned, like the pinjrakari and khatumband wood work of Kashmir, blue pottery of Jaipur, chikankari embroidery of Lucknow, the kannadi or metal mirrors from Aramula, chappals or footwear from Kolhapur, and bamboo craft of Assam.

Other lesser known crafts like the paabu or stitched boots from Ladakh, jadupatua paintings from Jharkhand, making of Kathakali and Theyyam headgear, khadi or tinsel printing in Ahmedabad have also been described in striking detail.

The close study of various crafts makes it possible to discern subtle, sometimes unusual, difference in the same craft practiced by distinct regions or communities – like tie-resist-dyeing which is called bandhani in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, bandhej in Rajasthan.

Today this craft continuum constitutes an enormous resource that can be harnessed for the future development of our society, particularly as the backbone of a creative economy that is enabled by the embedded knowledge in the traditional wisdom of the sector as well as the digital technologies that help connect this ancient skill to new and future opportunities for the crafts persons across India.

We will need to make this enormous knowledge base accessible to planners, business and the rural and urban craftsmen as well as connect these to new local and global opportunities for these skills and resources to be reinterpreted in new and imaginative ways.

This book, Handmade in India, will be the first in offering such detailed insights and data on this vast resource as well as be a vehicle that can provide a platform and a structure to enhance this knowledge using the new digital networks and tools of access and interaction that it provides provided the required investments are made in infrastructure and training to realize the inherent potential.

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