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HandicraftsInBangalore

ByDr.TaraKashyap
Handcraftingofarticlesandobjectsisoneoftheoldesthumanactivities.Itisonlynext
in importance to agriculture. Various human needs such as cloths, shelter and objects
used in everyday life were handcrafted with simple tools and raw material easily
available. Initially they were confined to basic forms and shapes. Later they were
beautifiedtofulfilltheaesthjeticneeds.Handicraftshadthusemergedasonethemajor
activities of the human society. In India the history handicrafts can be traced to great
antiquity. From Upper Paleolithic, Neolithic, pre and protohistoric, historic, medieval,
late medieval upto colonial times there was a continuous tradition in handicrafts in
differentregionsofthesubcontinent.

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Karnataka as many other states in India had forged ahead and made great strides in
pushing the handicrafts into the world market. Bangalore in particular being surrounded
byvillageswithclustersofcraftspersonsspecialisinginadistinctvarietyofhandicrafts
had to shoulder greater responsibilities. There were artisans of Chennapatna
manufacturing lacquered wooden toys and objects, sculptors from Shivarpatna and
Devanahalli, metal workers from Nagamangala looked towards Bangalore as a
convenient out let for their goods. Bangalore itself was a home for families of artisans
who had moved in here in earlier centuries. In addition as the state capital Bangalore
could play a pivotal role in promoting the handicrafts, marketing them and empowering
the immigrant craftspersons in their persuit. Their artistic persuits were diverse and
distinctandtheymadesignificantcontributiontotheculturalscenarioofthemetropolis.
Migration of these artisans to the urban centre gave them an opportunity to learn new
techniquesenhancethequalityoftheirworkandthusputtheirskillsto best use. They
couldalsotakeadvantageofthemarketingfaclities.Duetothechangedcircumstances
there has been significant improvement in their economic condition, there is greater
degreeofsocialacceptanceandaboveallrecognitionoftheirskillsandtalents.
ThishasbeenmadepossiblemainlyduetotheeffortsofGovernmentagenciesandthe
NGOsseriouslyworkingfortherevivalofthehandicraftsandtheeconomicresurgence
of the artists and the artisans. Government of India, Ministry of Textiles, under the
direction of office of the Development Commissioner Handicrafts has set up Regional
Design &Technical Development Centres in various states. This Centre trains the
craftspersons in the use of new tools and in developing new designs to to cater to the
urbantastesandaboveallenablethemtomarkettheirgoodsprofitably.
One such Centre is located in Bangalore. The Regional Design & Technical
Development Centre( Technical Wing), as stated in the brochure is an organisation of
the Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles which
was formerly known as Central Handicrafts Development Centre. It had been
established in Delhi in the year 1958 and was shifted to Bangalore in 1996. It is
consideredtobeofitsonlykindinIndiaorganisedforthepurposebythethenAllIndia
HandicrasftsBoard.
The Bangalore Centre has well defined objectives, survey of existing conditions,
identifying lacuna in the handcrafting techniques, laying emphasis on conducting
research, experiments, develop hand tools, enabling the artisans to eliminate such
processes which result in drudgery and there by maximise the utilisation of their talent
andskill.TheCentrebyrenderingsuchhelptothecraftspersonaimatincreasingtheir
productioncapacity,technicalefficiencyandaboveallimprovingtheirlivingstandards.

Apart from training the crafts persons in the Centre, technical staff are sent to craft
pockets to study local conditions, tools and equipments used in the production of
handicrafts.Thetoolsaredevised,modifiedandtestedwithaviewtoenhanceprecision
and speed up the process of production. The main aim of the Centre is also to make
buying of these tools and equipment affordable. Besides offering them short term
training programmes, they are also provided with project details, data on resource
personnel and technical guidance. 4 units established by the Bangalore Centre are
related to Textile Weaving & Printing crafts are located in different parts of Southern
India
Through these they impart training, tecniques in demonstration, survey and technical
guidance. To compliment the activities of the technical wing of the centre yet another
unit was set up to develop prototypes of articles and objects. While the former lays

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emphasis on the technical aspects of handicrafts, the latter fucusses mainly on


preparingdrawingsandmodelsoftheintendedwork,providingnewdesignsandreviving
theold ones. This work is undertaken with a view to improve designs of crafts done in
anymaterial,beitwood,metalorstone.

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The State Government has also created facilities for craftspersons on similar lines, to
improve the quality of their work and betterment of their living conditions. To achieve
these objectives the Directorate of Industries has set up Karnataka State Handicrafts
Development a wing specially created for the benefit of the craftspersons and
resurgenceofhandicrafts.

As part of this exercise KSHDC builds special worksheds for the artisans to carry on
their work. Apart from this, for such of those who do not have living quarters, KSHDC
providesaccomodation,attachedwithworksheds.Ithasmanyotherschemesspecially
designedforthewelfareofthecraftspersons.
Marketing of goods thus produced is another area in which KSHDC involves it self.
Outletsaredevelopedindifferentpartswithinaswellasoutsidethestateto sell these
goods. Kaveri is one such outlet which has been set up in important cities. Bangalore
itself has several branches which serve as outlets for selling a variety of handicrafts
producedbycraftspersonsbasedinthecityaswellasindifferentregionsinKarnataka.
Apartfromtheemporiums,KHSDCholdsexhibitionsandcraftmelasfromtimetotime
toprovideopportunitiesforthecraftspersonstoselltheirgoods.
To encourage and motivate the craftspersons both the Centre and the State
governmentshaveinstitutedAwardsandCertificateofmerit.Thishasinstilledinthema
senseofcompetitionandhasenabledthemtobringoutthebestinthemselves.
Supporting the Centre and the State Governments and strengthening their hands in
helpingtoreachlargernumberofcraftspersonsaretheNGOs.Thehavebeenseriously
involving themselves in promoting the handicrafts on the one hand and protecting the
rightsofartisansontheother.
MostoutstandingamongtheNGOsaretheCraftCouncilofIndiaanditvariousregional
centres. Affiliated world Craft Council, Craft Council of India and its regional centres
have rendered yoeman service to craftspersons and the handicrafts. The architect of
this movement to revive and reinstate handicrafts to its original glory was none other
than Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya. As the first chairperson of the All India Handicrafts
Board, set up a series of outlets, created a posts of Development Commissioners
specially to promote handlooms and handicrafts. Her untiring efforts, dedication and
single minded devotion to promote handicrafts and craftspersons changed the whole
sociocultural scenario of post Independent India. As pointed out by her biographer
Shakuntala Narasimhan while first four decades of her life were taken up by her
invovlement in the freedom struggle, the suceeding four decades were given over
passionatelytothepromotionofhandicrafts.
Hergreatestcontributionto the development handicrafts in Karnataka was the creation
Crafts Council of Karnataka located in Bangalore. She not only initiated the centre but
identifiedrightkindofindividualsasdedicatedasherselftocarryontheactivitiesofthe
regional coordinating body. She had made a right choice by enlisting the services of
Lalitha Ubhayakar and Vimalarangachar who have succeeded in fulfilling many of
Kamaladeviswishes.
Besides Crafts Council of Karnataka there are other NGOs serving the cause of
handicraftsinonewayortheother.Byfundingtheschemes,marketingtheirwaresand
promoting welfare programmes, their contribution to handicrafts and the craftspersons,
has been significant. Tarangini, Sampark, IDPMS, Industree, Awake and Maya, to
mentionafewaresomeoftheimportantNGOsworkingforthepromotionofhandicrafts
andthewelbeingofthecraftspersons.
By these concerted efforts of Centre, State and the NGOs the artisans particularly
those based in Bangalore have been able reep benefits better than their fellow
craftspersons from other regions in Karnataka. It is little wonder that migration of
artisanstoBangaloreinrecentdecadeshasbeensignificant.Woodcarving,woodinlay
work, stone carving, bronze casting and traditional paintings in particular are important
areaswhichreceivegreaterattentionofartistsandartisansofBangalore.Itisamatter
of pride that a considerably large number of award wining craftspersons reside here.
SomeofthemhavewonNationalAwards,someStateAwardswhilemanyofthemhave
beengivenCertificateofmerit.
Woodcontinuestobeapopular medium of expression among the craftspersons. They
have used wood to create figures, utilitarian objects and articles of decoration.C.
Parameshvarachar, late D. Vadiraj, Ashok Gudigar, K. Annaswamy are recepients of
National Awards. Shoukat Ali and Abdul Rehaman have won National Award for wood
inlay work. S. Doraiswamy has done much in the area of decorative wood carving for
whichhehasbeenNationalAward.
Ivory like wood, has been an important medium for handcrafting of articles of beauty
and decoration. National Award was given to late K.Appukuttan Achary a noted
craftsmanknownforhisskillsintheartofivorycarving.

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Theartofstonecarvinghasremainedanimportantoccupation.Sculptorehavesurved
the community by making objects of worship, utility and decoration. Artisans hailing
fromShivarpatnaandDevanahalliwhohavesettleddowninBangalorehave contributed
much to to keeping the craft alive. Special mention may be made of S.N.Gangadhara
AcharywhohaswonNationalAwardfortheartofstonecarving.
The art of bronze casting has roots on gremat antquity. The technique has passed
through various stages of development.. Bangalore in the past few decades has
become an important centre for this crafts.G. Bhashyam Sthapathy, K.Rangaswamy,
N.G.Neelakantachar,M.V.LakshmanantomentionafewhavewonNationalrecognition
fortheiravhievementsinthisareaofbronzecasting.
WeavingasacrafthasexistedinIndiafromveryearlytimes.Bylatemedievaltimes,
weaving, particularly the art of silk weaving developed in the peripheral regions of
Bangalore. Encouraged by the marketing facilities in the matropolis many weavers
settleddowninBangalore.Manyvarietiesofmaterialsinsilk,cotton,polycotandothers
werewovenforlocalaswellasformaketingoutsidethestate.Craftspersonsintroduced
fascinating designs and capture the market. B.Subramanyalu specialised in producing
silk brocade saries which became very popular amongthe users. T.S.Balaram and
Chinnaswamy worked essentially on design weaving. Anita Choudapurkar popularised
theKasutiortheembroidedredsaris.
Though painting itself was an art of great antiquity, traditional style of painting gained
popularity aroung 1700. Gradually it branched off into two styles namely Tanjore and
Mysore.LateY.SubramanyaRajuofMysorewhohadmigratedtoBangalorepopularised
MysoreTraditionalPainting.PrabhaMalleshfollowedthistraditionandproducedalarge
numberofpaintingsinthisstyle.
Craftingterracottajewellery has become an important handicraft in recent times. Bindu
Mathai has made a great name in the crafting of terracotta jewellery in Bangalore. All
thesecraftspersonsareamongthosewhohavewonNational
Awards,fortheachievementsintheirrespectiveareasofwork.
Anotherwayofrecognisingthetalentandskillsofthecraftspersonsinvarioustypesof
activitiesisbyawardingthemCertificateofMerit. Among the holders of National Merit
Certificate are T.Shivaihchar for bronze casting,Prbha Mallesh for Mysore Traditional
Painting,SudhaVekateshforGanjifaCraftandothers.
State Government also has instituted both State Awards and Certificate of Merit, to
recognise the artistic skill and craftsmanship of Karnataka artisans. Bangalore city
alone has as many as 25 recipients of State Awards. There are among them, bronze
casters, wood and sandal wood carvers, sculptors, painters specialsing in traditional
style,craftingganjifacards,craftsmanspecialisinginsheetmetalembossingandthose
involedintheartofembroidery.
There are about 18 craftspersons who have been awarded State level Certificate of
Merit for bronze casting, Mysore Traditional Painting,manufacturing of musical
instruments, sandalwood carving, sculpture, sheet metal embossing, ganjifa and
embroidery.
LargestnumberofawardsgiventoartisanshoweverareKamaladeviChattopadhyayas
Visvakarma Award instituted by Crafts Council of Karnataka. Apart from traditionally
recognised handicrafts such as wood and stone carving, bronze casting, sheet metal
embossingandtraditionalpaintingalargenumberofothercraftshavebeenidentifiedfor
awards. These include kinhal art, block printing, batik painting, metal casting, artistic
jewellery,beadjewellery,terracottajewellry,,micropaintngonrice,lacquerware,leather
work, cultured marble articles, kasuti, embroidery, handmade wax candle, glazed
pottery,,silksareeweaving,makingstuffedandwiredolls,,softtoys,clothpatchwork,
wallhangings,makingofjutebags,palmleafbaskets,cutouttoysandtraditionalrod &
stringpuppets.
There are also a large number of other artist and artisans who have contributed
significantlytothedevelopmenthandicrafttraditioninBangalore.

Author
Dr.Tara Kashyap is an art historian having a Doctoral degree in Ancient Indian history
and culture from Bombay University. she also holds a diploma in Indology. While working
in the Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai she had ample opportunities to research on
various aspects of arts and write on related topics.She has several research and popular
articles to her credit.She has worked as an Academic Associate in Encyclopedia of
Hinduism, a project jointly sponsored by Columbia university, US and India Heritage
Research Foundation, Rishikesh.She is currently a visiting faculty at Chitrakala institute
of Advanced Studies, Chitrakala Parishath, Bangalore and Director of Poorvaranga,
Museum of performing Arts at Shankara Foundation, Bangalore.
SendEmailtoDr.TaraKashyap

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