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Old craft, new touch
19
May '16
Courtesy: Shishir Prashant
Courtesy: Shishir Prashant
The crafts of Uttarakhand are set for a makeover with a state initiative that will offer quintessentially local products in refreshing new designs, reports Shishir Prashant

Be it the beguiling charm of a chirping monal on a Dunda shawl or silhouettes of Kedarnath on aipan products, the crafts of Uttarakhand are set for a makeover.

From exquisite lamps, shawls, baskets and pens to showpieces, an array of a new range of products in all hues and colours would now be available for craftlovers, and that too in different shapes and sizes. These are the new souvenirs of Uttarakhand which may soon find a place in your living rooms thanks to a new and ambitious project. The innovative project would not only help design new products, but also enhance the skills and techniques of artisans.
 
For designing new products, the state-run Uttarakhand Handlooms and Handicrafts Development Council (UHHDC) has roped in Ahmedabad-based National Institute of Design (NID). Besides, the project would use modern tools to enhance the skills of the craftspeople. For this purpose, the NID is currently analysing the actual market for these crafts so that those can be sold at all tourist destinations in the hill state, a tourist's paradise.
 
“Lakhs of tourists come to Uttarakhand, but they do not get any souvenir of our state. The idea is to design new products which will attract these tourists,” said SC Nautiyal, chief executive officer (CEO) of the UHHDC. While developing new souvenirs, product specification, detailing, styling and value addition will be part of the product development.
 
Considering the popularity of tourist destinations like Nainital, Mussoorie and Haridwar, the UHHDC is hoping that the move would also uplift the living conditions of artisans, who mostly live in penury. 
 
In the first phase, four crafts have been selected: aipan (a traditional art of the Kumaon region), ringal (a form of bamboo) products, wool-based products and copper products.                    
 
Before crafting new products, a team of the NID visited different areas of the state to get first hand information about stakeholders and the location. The team also studied the group profile as well as existing materials, products and other techniques. “Through such visits, the team studied local sensibilities and made detailed analyses of the products,” said Nautiyal. Workshops too were organised at places like Uttarkashi, Bageshwar and Almora districts for the benefit of the craftspeople.
 
And now, Nautiyal said, the UHHDC is hoping to make at least 40 new products from ringal alone, which is a form of bamboo that is easily available in the hilly areas.  Some new products like lamps and showpieces have already been designed.
 
The hallmark of the new products is that the designers have also used the flora and fauna of Uttarakhand in order to make them appear quintessentially local. For example, brahma kamal, a rare flowering plant found in the Valley of Flowers in the Garhwal region, has been used in aipan products. Similarly, monal, which is a state bird, will also be seen on shawls made by artisans from Dunda in Uttarkashi district. (WE)
 

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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