Indian craft paced a step further after the independence. The amalgamation of the western craft pattern ideally gelled with the native form whilst making contemporary Indian craft to stand apart. The government started to adopt a serious stance towards the Indian craft. Various aids were granted and the Indian craft and art developed as the time proceeded. In response to such efforts the craftsmen of India fascinated with the designs of the hybrid "Anglo-Indian" furniture. These were famous amongst the British as well as the Indians during the British period. These antique furniture are still in demand. The sophisticated commissioned pieces, made from precious materials, represent the artistry of the Indian of craftsmanship. These exquisite pieces are appealing to collectors even today because they combine a familiar form with exotic materials and decoration.
Moreover, in spite of absence of royal patronage, contemporary Indian craft traditions have acquired the mantle of small-scale and cottage industry. Some of the sectors within the craft industry have even become full scale large industries like carpet weaving, traditional textile (Banarsi silk sari, Chikankari etc), gem cutting and polishing, jewellery making, the world famous diamond cutting and polishing industry, jute products, brassware, etc. These industries are growing due to the ever-increasing demand and popularity of Indian crafts in the domestic market and abroad. Carpet making, gems and jewellery, leather products, jute products etc. are some industries, which are expanding rapidly. In fact 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.
Contemporary Indian craft emerged with the progression of time, and it has improved its technique of artistry. One such craft is the Indian embroidery. There is a great demand for rich brocades and 'zari' work in the Indian states. The repertoire of saris ranges from Banarasi Amru, Tanchoi from Surat, Paithani, Patola, Kanjeevaram to the cotton saris from the tribal regions of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh etc, to delight the modern Indian woman. There is a profusion of materials available to the consumers to get a variety of garments made of different silks and mixed fabrics. Richly embroidered garments, woven shawls and household items are in fashion 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. Woolen shawls from Himachal and North Eastern states are also popular. The items like bed sheets, table mats, napkins, household furnishings etc made out using the various styles of textile printing ranging from tie and dye, block printing, hand printing etc. are intricately designed maintaining the past tradition.
Apart from these, gems and jewellery also play a vital role in Indian culture and contemporary Indian crafts. 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 has become more refined and polished and is a fine example of assimilation between traditional and modern designs and techniques. The increasing demand for Indian jewellery and gems has made this craft tradition into a full-fledged large scale organized industry, which is growing by the day.
Another most important part of contemporary Indian craft is carpet weaving industry which is the largest export oriented craft industry from India. Not only there is a great demand for costly silk carpets from Kashmir, but there is also demand for woolen and non-woolen carpets. A variety of floorings and traditional durries are flooding the markets these days and decorating the floors of Indian homes.
The government of India encourages handicraft which include 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. such endeavours have led to a steady growth in the craft industry of contemporary India. Most of the units producing utilitarian craft items have attained the status of small-scale industry. The demand for decorative items such as traditional wall hangings, silver cutlery, brass pots, embellished wooden sculptures, marble and wood inlay work, silk carpets, wrought iron furniture and decorative pieces, traditional paintings, enameled furniture, stone and wood carvings, metal, wood and stone sculptures etc. is also on the rise in India and abroad.
The present trend allows the revival of past tradition and craft, thus allowing the contemporary Indian craft to amalgamate the western style of craft, with a touch of past designs and a trendy finishing. For instance, the traditional craft of Uttar Pradesh is 'dhurrie' that had been woven for centuries in the villages of the state. It has been a major design statement by a judicious choice of colours, a better combination of the traditional patterns, but most of all by marketing it in the West, as a hand-made product. Not only that but a whole range of floor coverings in jute, sisal, kora grass, and other natural fibres, wool and even waste materials, have been part of this trend. The craft of embroidery, an allied part of the textile wealth of the country has also been reinvigorated by the designers, who have worked with traditional craftsmen.
The recent scenario of contemporary Indian craft, thus, has been emerged as an amalgamation of traditions, regional designs and the latest trend. The conception of craftsmanship has become more serious in playing the role of trade and business. Now the government has taken initiative to improve and grow the Indian crafts. The Indian government had also set up institutions to educate the artisans and students are also opting for the course of designing.
(Last Updated on : 16-09-2014)
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