Ancient crafts to modern design

Transformation of ancient handicrafts to modern design

Art of Indus Valley Civilization/Mohenjo Daro

We are living in a country that has a strong identity in world for its handicrafts. The history of handicrafts is almost 5000 years old. Indus valley civilization the first references to handicraft found from the Mohenjo Daro, Sindh Indus valley civilization aprox 3000 B.C – 1700 B.C. The craft tradition in India has whirled around religious values, confined needs of the commoners, as well as the special needs of the clientele and royalty, along with an eye for overseas and home trade. Prehistorically Indian handicrafts were basically made for day after day use, the yearning for aesthetic application soon saw development of flooding designs and motifs. Tech incalculable artistic and ethnic assortment has enabled a fusion of motifs, techniques and crafts to increase on this land.

The beauty of Indian textiles spread far and wide even during the ancient trade. The Bandhanis and appliqué works stood apart from the herd. Kashida, Kantha and Kasuti were very popular for their fine qual8ity and excellent embroidery done on them. The historic Indian literature reveals some interesting facts that India crafts were an integral part of religious rituals and ceremonies. The need to propagate Buddhist religion played and important part in the style the stone sculptures were sculpted. It also renewed the enthusiasm in stone sculptures. These craft ethnicity have withstood the ravages of time and frequent foreign invasions and continue to flourish till date. Create the ethnic Indian aura through the countless home products artistically crafted in different materials.

19th Century Handicrafts

Handicrafts and Traditional arts define the true identity of a civilization. The artisans of these crafts carry the legacy of their land and its culture, myth, and religion in their art practices from generation to generation. In India handicraft and its artisans were highly regarded and duly rewarded until the outbreak of the 19th century industrialisation. Although the Indian Govt. since independence implemented many comprehensive plans to secure this sector, the threat of industrialisation continued affecting this art and artisans. These artisans live in unhealthy clusters, deprived of basic amenities and denied of basic human rights. The facts and challenges encountered by the artisans, due to the impact of industrialization on the basis of the survey conducted in those towns of western Uttar Pradesh where handicrafts were the main source of livelihood of the majority.

Handicraft in India has been continuously evolved over thousands of years. It has been practised indifferent forms and styles throughout the country. The importance of this sector has been linked not only to the growth of the utility products but also to the sentiments of the people of the country. The handicraft of a land caters the pride of its practitioner, not only it serves the purpose of exchanging thoughts but also gives shape to the learnt artistry. Traditional arts and crafts nurture the growth of a state, a region or the whole country. Until the outbreak of the 19th century industrialization, the handicraft artisans were highly regarded and duly rewarded in India. The crafts of India, for a long time, suffered exploitation of colonial overlords who judged the value of the handicrafts of India on their own terms and conditions. Detecting the nature of the threat, the issue of the handicrafts was included in the agenda of swadesi movement and a genuine concern for the promotion of handicrafts came to surface.


Handicraft with Modern Designs

The roots of Indian art and crafts are entrenched very deep and they are capable of influencing the generations passing by. The present status of craft in India owes much to the rich craft traditions of the past. Most of the crafts from the past continue to flourish due to their utilitarian nature, their availability to the common people, and popularity in domestic and foreign markets.


There is a great demand for rich brocades and zari work. The repertoire of saris ranges from Banarsi Amru, Tanchoi from Surat, Paithani, Patola, and Kancheevaram to the cotton saris from the tribal regions of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh etc, to enchant the modern Indian woman. There is a profusion of materials available to the consumers these days. One can get a variety of garments made of different silks and mixed fabrics.


Richly embroidered garments, woven shawls and household items are in vogue these days. Mainly craftsmen from Kashmir, Punjab, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, North Eastern states etc create these products. There is a flourishing market for pherans and tablecloths from Kashmir. Woollen shawls from Himachal and North Eastern states too are popular.


India has an obsession with gems and jewellery since ancient times when India was referred to as the ‘golden bird’. This obsession is strong till date and India has become the largest importer of gold in the world. A variety of local jewellery traditions (of different states) are present in India with the modern day gem and diamond cutting and polishing industry. The present day jewellery tradition of India is a fine example of assimilation between traditional and modern designs and techniques.

There is a huge domestic market for a hoard of utilitarian craft items such as bedcovers, sheets, cushions, curtains, tablemats, bags, metal furniture, mats, boxes, cabinets, wood furniture, toys, utensils, garden pots, terracotta items, brass and silverware, leather products, papier-mâché products, cane, jute and coir items, carpets, rugs, durries etc. Most of the units producing utilitarian craft items have attained the status of small-scale industry.


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