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Rural crafts, urban spaces

Goods made of natural fibre, particularly by rural craftsmen are making a comeback. And how!



The goods at the exhibition include bags, low stools with sisal as the seating bed, low reclining chairs, wastebaskets, and a giant laundry basket.

THE ONGOING rural handicrafts exhibition organised by Initiatives for Development through Participation of Marginalised Sections (IDPMS), a Bangalore based non-governmental organisation (NGO), at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan here, gives a glimpse into the tremendous talent pool that lies with our rural folk. IDPMS is an NGO jointly set up by the Government of Netherlands and the Government of Karnataka and started functioning in 1988.

The exhibition showcases products made from sisal, a strong fibre made from the leaves of the eponymous tropical plant. The goods include bags (pretty trendy ones at that), low stools with sisal as the seating bed, low reclining chairs, wastebaskets, and a giant laundry basket! It goes without saying that the products are ecofriendly.

The sisal products have travelled all the way from Kadahalli. Rural craftspersons in that area, mostly women, need to be given full credit for the aesthetic touch of these products. Earthy and natural products that they are, the prices are down-to-earth too! Take the chic shoulder bags, for instance: it is sold at a very affordable Rs. 60. The low stools are priced at Rs. 300, quite a steal considering how sturdy they are. The laundry basket, with its giant size and solid space, is Rs. 700. The flexible wastebaskets are at a delightful Rs. 100!

Kasuti

Move on from the sisal counter and you arrive at the stall of kasuti works from the twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad. Products made by Lambanis, ( known for their mirror-worked, heavy skirts and the long line of white bangles on their arms) are also featured here. The region is known for its considerable Lambani population. Ethnic waistbands with shell work, mirror-work, funky ethnic wristbands, purses, pouches and the like, stand out quite colourfully at this counter. And here too, the prices will stump you, in a positive way of course!

Baskets, bowls and coasters made of Bamboo slats are also featured at the same counter. These products too are the result of rural craftsmen from the northern region of Karnataka. Handmade paper products such as greeting cards, envelopes, notepads, all in the range of just Rs. 15, are also available here. They too have been made by the rural folk of north Karnataka.

Products with the intricate kalamkari designs are also on display at the exhibition. The NGO that has made it possible for the kalamkari artisans to make a livelihood out of their dexterous fingers is the Bangalore-based DWARAKA Foundation, which stands for Development of Weavers and Rural Artisans in Kalamkari Art. Established by the Ramanarpuram Trust, which was founded by Dwarakanath Reddy, DWARAKA interacts with the kalamkari artisans based in and around Srikalahasthi, in Andhra Pradesh.

Kalamkari products on display at the exhibition include dress materials, saris and even skirts with the typical beautiful prints. Although priced on the higher side, once you take a keen look at the designs, you realise the labour that's gone into the fabric.

Tsunami effect


The tsunami has had its effect on this exhibition too. The Field Assistant of IDPMS, H. Anand, who is in charge of the exhibition here, says that several products from Tamil Nadu and Kerala could not be brought due to the tsunami that tore through the region. Coir products from Kanyakumari were also to be featured here, but the craftsmen have not been able to leave their coast. "I did speak to them after the tsunami attack and they have said that they would try and come for at least three days before the exhibition wraps up on January 5," he says.

Channapatna's famous wooden toys and lavancha (the fragrant vetiver) products from Kerala are some other products expected to arrive. From closer home, terracotta products from Puttur are displayed at the exhibition under the aegis of the Potters Cooperative Society there.

Foodies can also look forward to some yummy homemade products available at the Yashasvi Navodaya Self-Help Group's counter. There are jars of homemade pickles and spices. When the lady at the counter invites you to taste the lime pickle, do not hesitate, for once you do, you are sure to be reminded of grandma's cuisine, and in the next second you hear yourself saying: "Pack it."

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