Lac craft on verge of extinction? - The New Indian Express

Lac craft on verge of extinction?

Published: 17th November 2012 11:51 AM

Last Updated: 17th November 2012 11:51 AM

The tribal-dominated backward district of Nabarangpur has gained international fame for its traditional lac handicrafts.

However, due to lack of patronage, it is feared that the art might soon become extinct. Lac, the main base of this form of handicraft, was earlier available in plenty in the district. But with gradual shrinking of jungles, artisans now depend on adjacent districts for the raw material.

 The lac craft here is considered unique not only in India but also abroad. Nabarangpur artisans make boxes, chains, toys, sticks and other decorative products with lac.

 The most famous of them is boxes. Lac threads with different colours are embossed on lac painted base and artistic designs are drawn using lac threads on the surface of the box. Nabarangpur work is also famous for its coloured lac, melted in the form of threads to produce different lac ware.

 But today the art form is limited only to the Sankhari community in the district. With a population of 500, the community has been maintaining their livelihood through the lac work. Earlier, the community members adorned the palaces of ‘maharajas’ and ‘zamindars’ on festive occasions with lac ware.

 The 60s and 70s is the golden period for the community. A society was formed through which the lac products were marketed. The demand increased to such an extent that the society at times could not meet the orders. Besides, this also got the artists several State and National awards.

 However, over the years, condition of the society deteriorated with decline in patronage and financial assistance.

The artisans suffered in the absence of marketing facilities. And this condition continues till date. They lamented that though the craft has brought laurels to the district, the government agencies are reluctant to patronise it.

 There is virtually no marketing facility for the handicraft items. This has gradually affected the economic condition of the craftsmen.

 Procurement of the raw material for the handicraft, lac, is also difficult. Though it was abundantly available in the past, these days it is being smuggled out of the district putting the artisans in a quandary.

 The artisans opined that if the State Government did not encourage the craft and the artisans, then it would become difficult for them to keep the art form alive.

 District Collector Yamini Sarangi said necessary measures for the revival of the lac art would be taken. She said regular  supply of raw material is the need of the hour to give boost to this industry.

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