PhotoStories | The India Chronicles: The Hues of Dastkar
It is no secret that India is a treasure trove of indigenous art and craft. Every state, region, sometimes even every second town or village has its own form of language, art, craft and resulting influences on design and living. Some of these art forms and practices date back decades, even centuries. One would assume that such a precious heritage would be fiercely protected in a country as huge as India. However, the sad fact is that until a few years back, most of these crafts and the artisans who make them were languishing in obscurity and resulting poverty. Lack of awareness of these crafts in urban areas meant a lack of market – the artists had no means of promoting or marketing their talents and younger generations subsequently moved away to more lucrative forms of livelihood. As a result, several of these craft-forms either perished or have been on the brink of being lost forever, sustained only by a small minority of passionate but perishing artists.The Dastkarmovement changed this to a large extent. “Dastkar”is a Hindi word, literally meaning “crafterperson” and true to its name, it is a society of and for craftspersons. Founded in 1981, the organisation has slowly managed to put these crafts back into not just the living rooms of Indians but onto a global map. The society aims to make these craftspersons self-reliant, accountable for their own production, accounting and marketing, and in doing so, eliminates the ‘middle-man’ between the artist and the consumer, ensuring that all profits go directly to the artisan. One of the ways in which Dastkar promotes these arts is by organising Dastkar Melasor fairs in cities across India. I’ve been a regular visitor to the one in Delhi over the years, but a couple of weekends back I accidentally walked into the Dastkar Fair in Bangalore, much to my delight.Could the Flaneuse waste this opportunity? No chance! I present to you some of the hues of Dastkar.
I urge you to discover the rest for yourself the next time Dastkar is in your city. These artists deserve it.