Iti Tyagi, artist and founder of Craft Village, tells why it is high time Indian crafts are given a formal platform.
While India takes its fashion, design and art seriously through various formal platforms like the India Fashion Week, India Art Week and India Design Summit, there has been a lacuna around celebrating its craft heritage.
The fairs for craft are limited to those for exporters, says Iti Tyagi, founder of the Craft Village and now the India Craft Week.
“There are no B2B or B2C platforms for domestic players like buyers, providers and artisans. India is so rich in craft that we thought of having an official craft week where we can push the events in a serious manner to do it annually. We are starting small this year but hope that by consecutive years it grows to a larger scale,” she says.
Despite aiming small, they expect a footfall of 5,000 during the five-day event, where rare artisans and craftsmen that are on the verge of extinction will be present. One such example is the Chamba rumaal from Himachal Pradesh, which has double-sided embroidery. “You only frame it in glass and there is no back. It’s not available in the market easily and only a few masters are still doing it. Then there are Pinjra kadi from Kashmir, Phad painting, which is a 700-year-old style,” she says. This Rajasthani art work, Phad, is considered our first movie, given its story-telling capacity with scroll paintings. These stories were sung out by the Bhopa and Bhopi, who would tell tales of Devnarayan, an avatar of Vishnu. These singer-narrators tell the story during an all-night festival in which the Bhopi carries a lamp and the Bhopa sings. There will also be master craftsmen who will demonstrate pashmina calligraphy, a rare artwork that does not have many followers anymore.
To keep it interesting, they have hand-picked 10 art forms and 10 folk artists from North East, Kerala, Kashmir, MP, Bengal and other states. For those, who want to learn, there are 25 workshops with master craftsmen who are national and Padma Shri awardees. “Learning from the horse’s mouth, from those who come with the knowledge of a heritage of 100 years is an entirely different experience,” says she.
Also on display will be 100 folk paintings from top 10 masters. There will be artworks in Kalamkari, Pichhwai, Phad, Madhubani, Patachitra, Gond, Rajasthani miniature paintings, Pahari miniature, Warli Tanjore, Mata Ni Pachedi and more.
To formalise and institutionalise the efforts, they have doyens of art like Jaya Jaitley, David Abraham, Rahul Mishra, Muzaffar Ali, who will discuss the extinction of art forms and the strategies ahead.
But their efforts are not limited to the domestic sphere since a possible collaboration with the London Craft Week is also in the pipeline. “Till now crafts were synonymous with haats and bazaars, where bargaining would be possible but here it is a national platform with nothing like that,” she says.
To keep it relevant for the domestic market, entrepreneurs who work with artisans for their brands will also be showcasing their work. “The intention for the craft week is right but only at the end of the five-day event we’ll know how successful it has been,” says she.
Writer: A. Sarkar
Courtesy: The Pioneer