Imagine, if you can, the moment before a camel hair pain brush traces the last delicate line on a handmade paper canvas, before the needle plunges into a gossamer cloth to bring a threadwork rose to life, before the chisel plunges into a wooden artefact to finish the last intricate detail. Imagine if you can, the mastery and the love in each bold stroke of an artist’s hand…
Each time we gift such a handmade piece, we share more than just a part of the master craftsman’s artistry and technique. We take forward a piece of our rich traditional heritage of handloom and handicrafts. And we also share our love, mingled with that of the artisan creator.
Of hand crafting and traditional skills
Recognising, supporting and safeguarding our traditional craft skills define the level of sophistry that a living cultural heritage has reached. Appreciating and gifting heritage handmade products keeps our stories as well as our storytellers alive, passing on age-old knowledge through generations.
Fortunately, there are grassroots artisan communities, small entrepreneurs, boutique design studios and state emporia that strive to uphold India’s handmade traditions. And there are digital marketplaces like Amazon Karigar that helps to connect all the dots in between to bring such traditional handcrafted marvels to your doorsteps—even in times of a pandemic.
Take the case of the brand, Roshni, created by Sunita Bali, a long-time design consultant with the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. Her enterprising brand works with local weavers from the remote villages of Himachal Pradesh, and Amazon Karigar helps small entrepreneurs like her bring such exquisite handcrafts to you.
Says Sunita, “Tying up with Amazon Karigar has definitely provided Roshni with greater visibility and reach in the market. Today, we get orders from all parts of India. I’m truly thankful to Karigar for helping us connect weavers and their authentic handmade art with customers across the country.”
Heritage sourced and delivered with love
Amazon Karigar also partners with India’s state emporia to bring our wealth of weavers and artisans on to a single digital platform. Online marketing has helped emporia like Biswa Bangla, Tantuja, Tribes of India, APCO and Mrignaynee, among others, showcase India’s rich heritage and reach art and craft aficionados in an instant.
Biswa Bangla, aptly tagged as the destination ‘where the world meets Bengal’, was launched by the State Government of West Bengal to support the livelihoods of weavers and artisans from the state by marketing their traditional products. A spokesperson says, “Biswa Bangla is all about presenting to the world the best that Bengal has to offer. We are constantly widening our outreach across the length and breadth of Bengal, from the skillful craftspersons of Jangalmahal to the creative and enterprising communities in the hills of Darjeeling.”
Speaking about their association with Amazon, the spokesperson says, “Our journey with Amazon Karigar started from 2020, when we found a global market place to showcase our handlooms, handicrafts and heritage delicacies. This move has positively impacted the livelihood of about 1,000 handicraft artisans, 1,000 handloom weavers and 500 FMCG artisans.”
Apart from the benefit of an e-marketing platform, Amazon Karigar also helps to revive vanishing art forms through digital storytelling. Precious folklores and tales connected with our traditional artefacts are retained through unique campaigns like Amazon Story Boxes and Share the Craft.
Says a spokesperson from the state emporium, Tantuja, “Amazon’s e-commerce platform helped our artisans reach global consumers even during the recent lockdown crisis, enabling them to expand to newer markets. The e-marketplace supported weavers earn a sustainable livelihood, while reviving our traditional, forgotten Indian art.”
This sentiment is echoed by Nitin Gupta of Arknit Textiles, who started his handloom business in 2001, before beginning a new venture in 2016. Says Gupta, “Amazon Karigar has helped us sell the traditional products of over 170 artisans to different parts of country. It has also helped us earn profits by utilising our own talent and skills.”
Facilitating India’s artisan communities
A growing demand for handmade and sustainable products has also brought the spotlight on our traditional craftsmen. This burgeoning interest from craft lovers has, in turn, fostered innovation and skills training in what was hitherto a sphere of traditional artistry and age-old techniques.
Says Aatish Chavan of Nirvi Handicraft, “Today we spend a lot of our time innovating and experimenting with designs, testing out new products and trying to better our crafts. We also run an NGO that provides skills training to Maharashtra’s artisans. Besides making traditional artefacts, we train them to use trendy designs. We also teach them to create and use eco-friendly material like natural paints.”
E-commerce markets like Amazon Karigar has helped bring a new zeal into India’s handloom and handicrafts journey. Says Sunita Bali, “The traditional weavers we worked with made only woolen shawls and stoles initially. But Roshni taught them to make ponchos, jackets and many more products to help them diversify and appeal to new markets. Today, we sell not only apparel, but also handcrafted home décor and gifts.”
“The Amazon Karigar team has given small artisanal businesses like us a different identity, which not only boosted our sales but also helped differentiate our products in the crafts sector.”
Chavan adds, “The Amazon Karigar team has given small artisanal businesses like us a different identity, which not only boosted our sales but also helped differentiate our products in the crafts sector.”
Kuprkabi Ceramic Design Studio, founded by Vanmala Jain, an alumnus of the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, is a design house and social enterprise that promotes pottery craft and ceramic art. Kuprkabi has been helping to create sustainable livelihood for craftspersons for over two decades, and Amazon Karigar has facilitated the boutique design studio with greater outreach.
Says Jain, “We specialise in ceramics and work with terracotta, stoneware and porcelain. Our association with Amazon Karigar has been a wonderful experience. It is a great platform to promote handcrafted creations, and we have more than 100 products listed on the website. We look forward to continued support from the team and wish them the very best.”
This, perhaps, is the true power of digital innovation, when your desire for the highest standards of handcrafted artistic excellence and a master craftsman’s ability to create that vision are successfully married via an online platform!