Crafts expert Jasleen Dhamija says that the South has managed to revive a few of its crafts through constructive steps. She has had a ring side view of the crafts revolution, the ebb and flow, in the sector.
Having begun work in the field with none other than Kamala Chattopadhyay in 1954, Jasleen Dhamija can outline the transformation and the growth with great precision.
Talking on the sidelines of her lecture titled Travel with Jasleen Dhamija through the textiles of central Asia at the Apparao Galleries at their Yarn Club meet recently, Dhamija said that with concrete measures the South had seen several forms of crafts.
“Take the case of bronze casting that dates back to the Vijayanagara Empire. The sthapathis (scultptors) have managed to continue with the tradition. Similar is the case with the pattamadai mats in Tirunelveli,” she said. Dhamija added that bronze casting were made popular first during the period of Chola dynasty by the emperors who encouraged craftsmen.
The crafts expert, who is known internationally as Philosopher of Living Cultural Traditions, added that the South has a rich legacy of scores of revived crafts such as Kalamkari. “Kalamkari found patronage among the Mughals and Golconda Sultanate as well. Today, they are great examples of tradition and trends,” she said, adding that the list was endless. Kalakshetra played a pivotal role in encouraging vegetable dyeing,” she said.
The veteran said that she found the word artisan to be a misnomer in the case of craftspersons. “Artisan is a French word and in English it means someone working with mechanised form of production. But when we talk about crafts we are talking about things handmade and handwoven. The term therefore cannot be interchangeable used,” she said.