Sweeping in Change

Crafts, Handlooms, Art

Sweeping in Change: The Broom-Makers of Madhya Pradesh

Sethi, Dr. Ritu

As one travels across the highways and byroads of the country the  trees, plants, grass, fruit and flower change according to climate and topography, soil and rainfall. As we zip along we tend to forget that even vegetation that appears to be a wild, unkempt or waste  provides food, fodder, medicine and employment to those who have a knowledge of the properties of plants. The variety and uses of wild and cultivated plant matters and its use to thatch homes, build fences, feed livestock, make mats, fashion products from furniture, toys, jewelry to brooms and other innumerable uses is a time honored and enduring practice across the country. The craftsperson’s knowledge and their judgment on tensile strength, adaptability and durability transforms plant matter into structural constructions and shapes that form part of everyday life and living. Expressed with immense diversity by the many communities involved in the making craftsperson’s with their innate understanding of the properties of terrain specific species and their skills in handling the raw material using the most basic of tools translate the vegetation into objects of utility, strength and beauty. Recently the most modest of grass and leaf products - the broomstick - has been in the news with the levy of the GST tax on it. While the GST has been levied on a diverse range of handmade crafts and textiles I have chosen to pick out and speak of the humble broom as its making represents in a microcosm what lies at the very core of the word of handcrafting. From the in-depth knowledge of the material and its po...
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