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New-age kala

If you have a bleary idea of Karnataka's handicrafts, check out the fine display at the Cauvery Kalavaibhava

— Photo: G.R.N. Somashekar

Those associated with handicrafts are now pretty savvy with market demands.

ONE MAY be quite surprised with the kind of variety and quality of the handicrafts at the first ever State level handicrafts exhibition that has opened in the city — Cauvery Kalavaibhava.

Somehow the fuzzy association one has with the idea of state-sponsored handicrafts becomes clearer at this fair. Amazingly, contemporary craft and textiles that retain the traditional touch are definitely the highlight here. So while the basic groundwork is age-old, the colours are today's and the designs, young.

Times definitely are changing. So are attitudes. Many of the participating craftsmen are savvy, work in co-operative groups, and are largely exporting their products — be it cotton carpets, leather footwear, sandalwood figurines, silver jewellery, embroidered bedcovers or crocheted handbags. The range of products starts with the traditional Bidriware and stone-carved deities and go on to designer saris, contemporary cane furniture, artificial plants and more

It's also heartening to see a large number of women, working independently of any organisation or association, and young entrepreneurs competing with other craftsmen from all over the State.

Great variety

The famed kasuti embroidery work from Dharwad, beautiful banana fibre crochet bags and Narayanpet material wraparounds from near Hampi and Hospet, colourful cotton carpets from Navalgund, beautiful saris from Haveri, funky mirror-work belts, bags and pouches from Lambani co-operatives in Sandur, the modern Kolhapuri from Belgaum with straps in blue and red that make it to markets in Japan and Germany — the variety is admirable.

If there is a dominance of one material in all forms, it's wood, wood and more wood. Humungous statues in various kinds of woods, heavy rosewood furniture and jhoolas, carved panels, wall hangings, brackets, clocks, and cane and bamboo products dominate. Also sharing space are the famed wooden toys of Channapatna in varied colours and forms. Handloom co-operatives have also brought in beautiful hand-woven salwar-kameez set materials. There's also leather products in all forms from lampshades to handbags and shoes. Bronze lamps also dominate.

Coir products, specially foot mats and carpets, hand-printed sheets and mirror-worked cushion covers made by physically challenged people from Bellary, jostle for space with artists exhibiting Ganjifa painting, lacquer work, jute and fibre weaving, or terracotta jewellery and wall hangings. Of course, the State's very own corporations MSIL and KSIC have stalls exhibiting their saris.

The exhibition is organised by the Department of Commerce and Industries, Karnataka State Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd. in association with the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts). It is on till March 21 at Palace Grounds, Mekhri Circle entrance, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Entry free.

BHUMIKA K.

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