Lakhimi Jogendranath Chutia1 & Mrinmoy K Sarma2
1Research Scholar, Tezpur University, Assam, email: email@example.com
2Professor, Tezpur University, Assam, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 1, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF
The article deliberates over the issue of sustainability of traditional crafts from the economic as well as tradition point of view. In the age of global competition when the world has become a small trading community, handicraft artisans constantly compete with machine made products and struggle for the sustenance of their age old traditional industries. The traditional brass and bell metal sector of Sarthebari and Hajo in Assam is going through a similar fate. Changing functional requirements and aesthetics orientation of modern customers are pressing artisans to modify certain traditional features of the crafts and innovate according to market demand. In addition to this, unrestricted flow of imported metal items also offers tough competition to the indigenous sector. Artisans complying with existing needs of customers, comparatively, do well in economic terms than those producing age-old products. As noticed, artisans also seem to continue the craft in future and encourage their kith and kin to undertake the occupation, since they find it a reliable income source. Meanwhile, change in archaic design and make of metal items raises the issue of sustainability of tradition. However, it is important to understand if harping on to tradition overlooking economic sustainability of producer of the craft can ensure the sustainable growth of the sector. The paper thus aims to highlight the present scenario of the industry and its future scope for sustainability by taking into consideration the artisans’ and market viewpoint. It extends suggestions based on the information gathered from the market and producer to ensure sustainability of the art and the artisan.
Keywords: Sustainability, traditional, economic, brass and bell metal crafts, artisans, Assam
Lakhimi Jogendranath Chutia & Mrinmoy K. Sarma, Tezpur University, Assam
Volume V, Number 2, 2015. Download PDF Version
Dr. Lopamudra Maitra, Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC- UG), Pune
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As the torrential rain gushes down the plastic and tarpaulin sheets of the narrow alleys in Kumartuli, covering the half-made clay idols, the smell of wet earth emanates, reverberates, encircles and rises up to announce the arrival of the auspicious occasion— Durga Puja. Finally, as the dawn of Mahalaya announces the arrival of the Devipaksha and the last ablutions are offered to seek blessings from one’s forefathers on the banks of the sacred river Ganga, the artisans of Kumartuli pronounce the occasion through invoking the powers of the female goddess by painting the eyes of the idols of Durga, famously known as Chokkhudaan or bestowing of the eyes. A popular and annual sight in the region every year, this relatively small, yet largely famous and well-renowned region of Kumartuli stands tucked within the narrow lanes and by-lanes of Sovabazar area of the northern region of the present city of Kolkata (West Bengal, India) and the relatively recent construction of the underground metro-railway station of the same name. A busy place for idol-makers, the kumbhars, their small and narrow workshops, aligned against their crowded tenements, hum with the buzz of activities at most times of the year, especially during the time of the Durga puja. Over the years, the region has experienced a surge and witnessed changes in the style of the clay idols, their expression and depictions, especially the ones made for Durga puja. Carrying forth a string of history within itself, as these depictions represent a strain of continuity of the famous worship of female deities of the region, the changes and alterations in visual depictions of the idols made in Kumartuli also help to reflect new ideas and ideologies in the age of new-media, forming an important part of Visual Anthropology. Based on an extensive fieldwork in the region of Kumartuli and various parts of Kolkata throughout the month of Aswina (September-October) between 2011-2012, this paper tries to look into the significant aspects of the representations of the idol-making formats of Kumartuli, their changing presentations and new reflections and how the local history, oral traditions and lores still manifest themselves through these changing representations.
In those days when there was no discovery channel or BBC; people learnt about distant lands through the travels of brave travelers who undertook perilous journey across thousands of miles. Travelling was certainly not easy in those days when there were no airplanes, motor vehicles or diesel powered ships. Travelling was also not possible through personal endeavor only; often travelers undertook voyage under the patronage or sponsorship of religious institutions or funding from Kings. For these travelers who mainly travelled on foot, caravans or by ships, India was always a favored destination for number of reasons. Stories of the great wealth of India had reached far and wide, the abundance of Buddhist literature and monasteries also invited the travelers to come to India. So we may say India was an attractive destination because of both material and spiritual reason, and thus we find a number of travelers visiting India at different times. Hsüan-tsang, Ibn Batuta, Jean Baptiste Tavernier, Francois Bernier all visited India in different times and left for us a reliable picture of life in India in those times.