The Effects of Modernity and Postmodernity on the Significance of Craft in the Process of Globalization

Cultural, Creative Industries, Innovation, Contemporization, Op-Ed

The Effects of Modernity and Postmodernity on the Significance of Craft in the Process of Globalization

McComb, Jessie F.

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It was a beautiful, winter afternoon in Delhi, before the days of fog and chilled marble floors had set in. I had found myself once again visiting the dusty galleries and living exhibits at the Crafts Museum in Pragati Maidan. Outside, in the open-air craft demonstration ground, I struck up a conversation with a wood craftsman from Jaipur. We chatted about the expectant arrival of his first child, the experience of staying in Delhi for a month and, of course, the weather. Finally, I inquired about his crafts which varied from large Hindu gods and goddesses to small trinket items in the form of elephants, frogs and such. I was particularly struck by a series of Buddhas carved in what appeared, to my art historian eyes, to be a classic Chinese style. Devendra Raj, the craftsman in question, responded shyly that these were mostly for export, an order to be filled for the "international" market. He went on to say that he did not particularly enjoy making these items, but they sold well overseas and brought an income much needed for his soon expanding family. I walked away from the conversation with an unsettled feeling that the fate of crafts, both Indian and otherwise, was balanced ever so precariously on the scales of globalization.

In a world where new jargon arises in the wake of old key phrases, terms like modernity, post modernity and globalization seem to loose their meaning, their significance and their gravity. Old college friends casually talk about the disgraceful influx of wester...
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