Indian Art: That Was, That Is And That Should Be!

Posted on August 13, 2010 in Culture-Vulture

By Bindu N Doddahatti:

India is blessed with rich culture and heritage. India’s culture is one of the oldest in the world. Right from the medieval period there prevail various cultural diversities in dances, languages, religions, people, their customs and festivals.

Indian art and craft has made its special place internationally. The history of Indian crafts dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization. The main forms of art and craft of India includeIndian handicrafts like paintings, sculptures, textile, jewelry, stone and woodcrafts and much more. These traditional crafts have withstood the test of time and continue to evolve in an influential and pulsatile manner.

The first thing that startles most of the foreigners who visit India is the sheer abundance of color. Just look around you — from idols of gods and goddesses, the clothes, the trucks to the tit-bits in the dozens of shops you see in any typical Indian town market are a riot of color.

All this is the artwork of thousands of unsung, unappreciated artisans and crafts who make magic with their very hands. They are the ones who make those fabulous tie-and-dye clothes, those fantastically embroidered Gujarati cholis, that lacquered furniture and that beautifully studded silver jewellery. India may be a land of farmers but it equally deserves to be called a land of artisans.

The indian craft makers’ inherent sense of humour comes out subtly through various objects. Like the cute piggy banks-shaped like camels, monkeys, cats, cars and yes, even pigs. Then there is the croaking frog that emits its protest when we tap its back with a stick! The hats, table mats and the baskets are very attractive. Home furnishing and wall hangings, desk accessories which are made of coir and similar materials are always tempting.

Unfortunately, Indian arts and crafts have been facing negligence for a long time. Demand for indigenous arts and crafts nose-dived with the setting up of large-scale industries in India. After all, in a poor country like India, machine-made saris — to give you but one example — are cheaper and therefore more affordable than handloom saris. The list is endless. This has left artisans with little choice but to abandon their age-old profession and become common laborers, factory workers or government clerks. In either case, the loss has been ours.

The immense skill and hard work that this artwork involves,should not go waste. Many schemes introduced by the government to ameliorate the situation has not had a far reaching effect . Often Indian art is overlooked and has not been able to thrive in mainstream business

One of the main reasons of this is that they are confined to water tight economic and logistic compartments unaware of the aesthetic oppurtunities that are open to them. As most of the people working in these areas are from villages and are mostly traditionally trained,do not have much knowledge of the outer world. In this situation it is the duty of the government to look after the welfare of the these people.

Efforts have been made by both government and non-government agencies to keep our art and craft tradition alive and kicking. Many exhibitions are arranged round the year to create market for these products . Many artisans benefit from the exhibitions and fairs. But a large number of themare still in unfavourable economic condition..

It is in the hands government and more over the people of India to take forward the rich heritage she has. Its high time that we start appreciating our culture, leaving behind our blind love for the west.