If the Indian landscape was depicted by its myriad forms of craft, it would be a vibrant patchwork quilt highlighting a multitude of hues and shades of connotation, reflective of its centuries old skilled craftsmanship. India has been home to millions of artisans who are deeply rooted to the region they come from, and their craft are a window to the country’s rich culture and geography. Hidden within the vivid colours, weaves, and magnificent designs of these crafts are stories, stemming from different lands. From the beautiful valleys of Kashmir to the quaint villages of Andhra, from the pictorial hills of Manipur to the starkly beautiful deserts of Rajasthan – India is a treasure chest of stories, some lingering on for centuries while others yet to be told.
“The India Craft Week is the world’s fifth and India’s first official craft week with a focus on ‘Good Stories Untold’. It strives towards ‘One World, One Craft’ that transcends boundaries. Helping showcase evolving trends that encompass regional and folk styles from across India, it is designed to position crafts in the must-have category both here and abroad,” says Nari Shakti awardee Iti Tyagi who is the founder of India Craft Week.
ales of threads
Said to have originated in the erstwhile princely state of Himachal, Chamba Rumal is venerated world over for its delicate embroidery. Presidential awardee Lalita Vakil’s intricately stitched Chamba rumal depicts defining elements of nature and remnants of the glorious past. Known for exhibiting her exquisite work and lending her expertise and training to further the craft, she says that her biggest satisfaction comes from the knowledge that many young and aspiring girls have benefitted from her passion. Vakil’s strong will to experiment, produce new designs, scour old patterns to be reproduced and delve into the history books to pick out new ideas is truly laudable. “I am now experimenting with newer forms of depiction on coloured backgrounds.”, says the seasoned artist. Similarly, indigenous to Bengal is the beautiful Kantha stitch, and using it as a medium for self-expression is Mahamaya Sikdar, who has given a new dimension to Kantha art. Her exquisite and beautiful hand-stitched sarees have won her the National award both times. Mahamaya now has a cluster of about 300 women from the suburbs of Kolkata working under her, subsequently creating additional income source for them. Infusing traditional methods with the vibrancy of contemporary themes, these women have been weaving compelling narratives through different forms of embroidery.
Unfolding a painted world
India’s rich painting tradition is perhaps the earliest example of storytelling without words. From Kalighat and Pattachitra to Phad and Madhubani, these paintings form a kind of dramatic background to epic storytelling like no other. Gond in its bright hues and vivid strokes, establishes the strong connection of the native people with Nature. That’s precisely what award-winning artist Bhajju Shyam conveys through his Gond paintings. Hailed as a master artist, Kalyan Joshi has given a new dimension to the seven hundred year old art form, Phad. His paintings perfectly encapsulate the spirit of Rajasthan and its glorious culture through their narratives and vibrant colours. Giving a breath of revival to another art form, Kalighat, is an eminent ‘Patua’ and a President’s award winner Anwar Chitrakar. He effortlessly and subtly conveys powerful emotions and his belief systems through a suite of delightful contemporary Kalighat pat paintings detailed with almond-shaped eyes and poised figures.
Bringing many of these renowned artists out of their narrowed environs, into the spotlight of the oppidan space, India Craft Week is an endeavour for ‘One World, One Craft’. The annual cavalcade is all set to bring new ideas & emerging trends from the craft sector such as ‘Craft Rare’ and its goal of conserving and promoting endangered handicrafts, ‘Craft Panorama’, for its award-winning tribal folk and fine art collection, and the craft workshops, where one can get a first-hand experience of rare and exclusive techniques. The second edition of India Craft Week will take place at GMR Aerocity, starting from December 4 – December 8 2019.