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Culture curry served online

Looking for rare handicrafts and products that include a slice of Indian history? Started in June, a website is creating awareness about country’s hidden crafts while promoting local artisans.

art and culture Updated: Jun 23, 2010 14:18 IST
Sneha Mahale
Sneha Mahale
Hindustan Times

Looking for rare handicrafts and products that include a slice of Indian history? Started in June, could help serve your purpose. Launched by Sudip Dutta, 32, the portal is an online marketplace that gives handicraft lovers all over the world easy access to a unique collection of ancient, modern as well as contemporary Indian art. What’s more, they can also evaluate the art, customise it, help preserve culture and give Indian artisans the global recognition they deserve.

Dutta thought of the idea while on a trip to China. “We have a rich history like China, but do not market and respect our culture like them. Through Aporv (it means unique in Sanskrit), we want to help with the upliftment of our artisans as well as educate our customers,” he says. To serve this purpose, a portion of the money earned by the portal is returned to the artisan community.

On offer
On the website, customers can access a wide range of handmade authentic products from across the country showcasing Indian culture and history. Dutta says, “Take for instance the ‘Tree of Life' leather lamp. Created by an artist in Andhra Pradesh, this art has its origin in leather puppetry, which was popularly known as Tholu Bommalataa in Telugu. It was one of the earliest performing arts and was used to depict scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana.” has partnered with several NGOs and artisans across the country. The artisans decide the price for their products and the team at Aporv communicates the response their product receives. This helps them in finally fixing a price for their works of art. Artisans can also be contacted to customise art pieces as per customers’ requests. Customers who visit the website can also indulge in open evaluation and rank products on the basis of skills, aesthetics, history and craft. Dutta says, “The idea is to increase interaction between customers and artisans.”

Plans include expanding the website and covering more regions thereby showcasing more Indian culture. Dutta also wants to get into livelihood creation, health, education and other such aspects of artisan life.

Banana fibre bag with Ajrak print: Banana bark is cut and sun dried. The artisans create ropes out of them. They then use the ropes to create various products, including bags using the crochet technique.

Wood Marquetry: Marquetry is the art of creating decorative designs and pictures by skilfully utilising the wood grain, figure and colours of thin veneers, and at times, other materials such as shell or ivory. Here, a Mysore-based artisan has crafted the theme, Tree Of Life, to create a lively picture with animals, birds and trees.

Madhubani Painting-Fish:Madhubani painting comes from the Indian villages of Madhubani (meaning forests of honey) and Mithila in Bihar. These paintings were traditionally done on freshly plastered mud walls of huts, but now they are also done on mediums such as cloth, handmade paper and canvas.

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First Published: Jun 23, 2010 13:58 IST