Handcrafted Textiles for A Sustainable Future

Craft, Handloom, Art, Sustainability, Sustainable Devt.

Handcrafted Textiles for A Sustainable Future

Shah, Archana

Issue #002, Winter, 2019                                                                            ISSN: 2581- 9410 1 Introduction Indian textiles have been appreciated the world over since antiquity and it is to the credit of traditional artisans that hand skills have survived and evolved across time. The ornamentation of these textiles communicates the story of our indigenous design aesthetic and culture. Each region in India offered its own unique skills, distinctive range of textiles that use diverse materials and methods. (fig 1) I was first exposed to handmade textiles as a student at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, in the mid-1970s. (fig 2) Historical context: patronage and craft production In the past, royal patronage and wealthy merchants supported the arts and crafts. Products created by local artisans were worn by other local communities. The artisan understood his clientele and there was a close interaction. This allowed the crafts to flourish and the artisans were encouraged to innovate in response to the needs of their customers. By the mid-1970s, however, many communities were starting to give up the use of local fabrics, opting instead for cheaper mill-made materials that were flooding the rural markets. As a result, the craftsmen lost their clientele as well as their livelihood. There was a time before the Industrial Revolution when all fabric around the world was hand-spun, hand-woven, and embellished according to the requirements of the consumer and skill of the producer. (fig 3) Today, most cultures have lost their craft traditions and skills. We, in India are fortunate; our vast array of crafts skills survives but craftspeople have lost their former patrons and struggle to maintain commercial viability. Many artisans would continue to practice their hereditary vocation if it were financially rewarding and commensurate with their labour. Today, wh...


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