India is a diverse land consisting of myriad traditions and cultures, all of which provide the ideal breeding ground for a range of handicraft traditions to have emerged over the centuries.
In fact, India had once been the top destination of precious metal from across the globe because of the huge demands for the crafts produced by its highly skilled artisans.
However, all that went for a toss following the establishment of the British colonial rule over the subcontinent, and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution that spelt ruin for the traditional craftsmen.
Ever since then, the Indians who were once proud of their local traditions began aping the west and gradually gave up on the use of various handicraft items in their everyday lives. This has largely been the template for the past century and a half when most of the handicraft traditions of the country have been on a continuous decline.
Indians had once attained excellence in diverse fields of handicrafts ranging from those involved in metal ware and wood to fine textiles.
However, loss of patronage has made most of these handicrafts traditions are dying breed in India if they are fortunate enough not to be extinct already.
Moreover, the rapidly changing lifestyle of most Indians, coupled with the challenges posed the mass produced items post the Industrial Revolution led to these items becoming a novelty item restricted to the houses of the well-to-do families only.
However, this pattern has been experiencing positive, albeit gradual, changes in their demands thanks to the rising demand for these products, which is coming mostly from the international market.
If you happen to have a keen interest in improving the overall look and appeal of your home decor by bringing in quality handicraft items, then you are not the only one. In fact, it has become quite a fad among many to showcase their keen interest in Indian artistic traditions, as well as, portraying their classy sense of aesthetics by bringing home these handicraft items, and even gifting these to others.
However, the fact remains that despite the rising interest in the Indian handicraft gifts demands, the bulk of the demand still originates from the country like USA, UK, Australia, India, Germany etc. This is because of the fall in attraction towards the mass produced items and a growing sense of realisation regarding the uniqueness of products crafted by hand.
It may seem quite ironical to you and most others with a basic sense of history that the international market is ahead of the domestic market in appreciating the true value of our handicrafts. USA, Western Europe, and West Asia are leading the way in urging the demands of Indian handicraft items and leasing a breath of new life into this, particularly decentralised industry.
Carpet weaving and shawl weaving have been among the most popular of the Indian handicrafts traditions that have earned a considerable amount of foreign exchange for the country. Apart from these two, intricate handicraft items made from wood, metal, as well as, cutting and polishing of diamond, and other precious stones form the bulk of the handicraft exports from our country.
A major reason behind the lack of adequate demand for many of the treasures produced by our craftsmen is the mentality too long for foreign goods while not attaching the right worth with those produced or available in India.
This is among the traces of colonial hangover still present in our psyche that needs to disappear before we can fully appreciate the true worth of our craftsmen and their products.
The dynamism present in the Indian handicrafts scenario is unparalleled, and a buoyant buyer’s market is bound to add wings to that.
Presently, persistent efforts made by the various government and non-governmental organisations have made it possible for the Indian handicrafts items to become accessible to interested buyers from all corners of the globe. In fact, the handicrafts market has moved from being a niche market to making its presence felt in the mainstream lifestyle segment by attracting buyers with their uniqueness and quality.
A growing disenchantment for the machine-made products, particularly in the industrial countries is leading the way for the rejuvenation of the Indian handicrafts market.
An equally participants domestic market would be even better for improving the standard of living of the craftsmen and bestow the appreciation they deserve.