Village life at times gets too complex for urban comprehension. But within its rural ecosystem, lies the virtues of self-reliance and sustainability, models that the modern world is now frantically trying to mimic. The bearers of India’s indigenous heritage, especially our enduring art and crafts, are embedded within these village clusters, but continue to be disengaged from the mainstream for the large part. Dastkari Haat Samiti is an annual occasion to re-connect with these occupations through a crafts bazaar that highlights these artists.
This year, 90 artisans from remote parts of India are showcasing and selling their craft. The idea of Swadeshi as propounded by Mahatma Gandhi is seen abundantly through their practice.
This year being Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, the Samiti has commemorated the man who revolutionalised the handicraft sector, with a special display.
“Gandhi is not just a philosophy to be read and intellectualised. It is found in the hands of these craftsmen,” says Jaya Jaitly, Founder of the Samiti.
These metaphors as portraiture or abstract forms are found on tie and dye work, shibori embroidery, batik, durry weaving, traditional art styles like Godhna, Gond, Patachitra, Miniature, Madhubani, Worli, Kavad Art and Terracotta.
Crafts depicting Gandhi include wood carving and inlay, bamboo, rice and thread work, Sanjhi paper cut work and silver work.
As Jaitly walks us through this make-shift village, sounds of Alghoza, Dhadd, and Ektara folk instruments greet at every step.
A few steps down the aisle, we are greeted by a reserved man. His dexterity is remarkably seen is the use of fine, narrow garlands that he makes out of paddy husk and thread, both practically no cost materials.
He has also made a 4ft Gandhi statue with these materials. He tells us he can make anything we fancy and that too, right in front of us.
There is Mohd Arshad from Uttar Pradesh who has craved a smiling face of Gandhi from a wooden block.
West Bengal’s Kartik Manna has used batik to depict the Dandi march and Babu’s chakra among other elements of Swadeshi. Uttar Pradesh based Mohd. Kalam’s carpet weaving with Gandhi’s shadow-like portrait is striking too, while Ranjeet Kumar Paswan from Bihar has created an intricate Godana painting showing Gandhi walking.
Along another path, perched upon a stool sipping tea is an artist who, we’re told, hails from a far-flung village in Madhya Pradesh. “This craftsman consults a famous book of birds by the late ornithologist Dr Sálim Moizuddin Abdul Ali. He handpaints birds exactly as shown in the book over small papier-mâché. I tell him he should charge double the price because an ordinary village person cannot do this. Only a master artist like him can.”
Till: October 8,
At: Mati Ghar Grounds, IGNCA and Twin Art Gallery