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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Artisans from remote Uttarakhand village of Mana showcase their knit work

cities Updated: Oct 18, 2019 18:55 IST
Sanjeev K Jha
Sanjeev K Jha

GREATER NOIDA: The 48th Indian Handicrafts and Gift Fair (IHGF), currently underway in Greater Noida, has some unique crafts work, from the remote corners of the country, on display.

Apart from its theme of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’, the fair is also imparting lessons in sustainable development to hundred of artisans from remote Himalayan villages, besides giving them a chance to showcase their work to an international clientele.

Forty-something Nandi Devi of Mana village in Chamoli district is busy these days knitting sweaters in new designs. She is one of 10 master artisans from Mana, whose traditional fabric has now been developed into high-end fashion garments and accessories. “Since the last six months, I have been learning new trends of weaving,” she said.

Echoing similar views, 35-year-old Rajendra Singh, said, “All the 500-plus families in our village have handlooms. But till a few months ago, we could weave only traditional Uttarakhand woollen attires like ‘khes’ and ‘pankhi’ and none of the artisans was able to earn more than ₹1,000 a month. But, thanks to the special initiative by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH), we are now able to earn not less than ₹15,000 per month.”

The fair provides a platform to artisans to showcase their niche products so that they can establish a direct link with the overseas buyers and exporters.

Another artisan, Hema Bisht, said,“Till a few months ago, we were not in a position to even contemplate that a day would come, when we will be able to showcase our products outside our sleepy hamlet — the last one adjacent to China. We are now interacting with international buyers,” she said.

EPCH director general Rakesh Kumar said the council has started many schemes for the economic development of artisans from all 11 Himalayan states — the seven North-East states, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

“More than 70 lakh artisans from these states are engaged in craftsmanship based on abundant raw material available in their areas,” he said.

Calling these rural artisans the backbone of Indian handicraft sector, Kumar said EPCH is providing them designers who assist them in design development, in keeping with the requirement of International markets. “We have also decided to provide them a platform in each edition of IHGF and other international fairs and exhibitions to enable them to showcase their products. The show brings in captivating compositions in innovations and handcrafted fusions,” he said.

Asked about Mana village, Kumar said the artisans there are producing products made of raw wool like pankhi shawls, khes and other woollen garments. “The material is sustainable, resilient, eco-friendly and a natural animal derivative. With designer intervention, these raw material and crafting nuances of Mana artisans have been combined with handcrafting skills of women artisans in Barmer (Rajasthan) to bring out a range of products and also open up a world of product innovation possibilities for both groups of artisans,” he said.