Sustaining the Ancestral Tailors

Art history/ Historiography, Crafts, Handlooms, Art

Sustaining the Ancestral Tailors: A Historical Perspective of Marginalization of Tailors

Mahtani, Vanita

Abstract: Tailors are an integral part of our lives, but do we know about their histories and practices? Perhaps because the profession contributed marginally to the national economy and was viewed with contempt historically. They are skilled artisans who often remain on the socio-economic margins but contribute to both elite and popular fashions with their knowledge and the art of cutting and sewing. Elegance, style and tradition are the results of inheritance of artisan work. The growth of the occupational castes brought changes in the caste system and hereditary profession was its characteristic feature. Castes represented various crafts and the artisans inherited professional and technical skills orally from their father. Further, the secret of the high quality workmanship in the medieval period was due to the patronage of the emperors and the Nobles. The artisans were hired on the basis of the caste and family in the imperial karkhanas. The name of the artisans was recorded along with the name of their fathers and grandfathers, caste and domicile. However, once considered as priced artisans, today unfortunately their skills are not recognized as a craft or an art by Indian craft councils. Therefore, the study explores why this community of artisans, once patronized and awarded are diminishing today. For this, the present paper maps the historical trajectory of tailoring community, its inception, growth and downfall. The 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage aims to preserve the traditional and inherited cra...
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