Karnataka’s traditional artisans go green

August 7th, 2008 - 12:15 pm ICT by IANS  

By Maitreyee Boruah
Bangalore, Aug 7 (IANS) Going green and adopting more eco-friendly measures seem to be the latest mantra of the world-renowned artisan fraternity of Karnataka who are taking their creativity a step further in the process. Not only have they completely stopped using animal parts like ivory and horns to craft their works but use of toxic chemicals like zinc oxide and lacquer, once an integral part of their work, is a strict no, no now.

The artists now use natural dyes and wood for their products.

“Handicraft products made by indigenous artists of Karnataka are very popular worldwide. Now, taking a step further, we want to ensure that the craftsmen cause less and less damage to nature while continuing with their craft. This step of ours will surely help us to increase our market across the globe,” Rajgopal Reddy, assistant manager of the Karnataka State Handicrafts Development Corporation Limited, told IANS on the sidelines of an exhibition-cum-sale of handloom and handicrafts products here.

“As a part of our continuous process of growth and innovation, we’re now training the artisans to adopt more and more eco-friendly measures and avoid using toxic products and animal parts. Moreover, market prefers eco-friendly products,” Reddy said.

The exhibition, inaugurated on Aug 4, will continue till Aug 17. A total of 62 stalls from various states, including Rajasthan, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, are attracting a large number of connoisseurs from across Bangalore.

Coordinating with the Regional Design and Technical Development Centre, Bangalore, the corporation is currently providing training to the artisans in their 13 craft complexes located across the state to make use of only those raw materials that have no harmful effect on the environment.

As a result, all the products at the exhibition are eco-friendly.

Be it tree or plant roots turned into beautiful decorative items or slippers by young craftsman Chandra R from the west coast town of Bhatkal, about 600 km from Bangalore, or colourful toys made from cane sticks by 18-year-old Khizar from Ramanagara, 50 km from here, all intricately designed handicraft products are made from easily available raw materials.

“I am amazed by the sheer artistic calibre of the craftsmen who by dint of their creativity have turned simple things like tree and plant roots into beautiful decorative pieces and accessories like slippers and caps,” said London-based student Caroline Francis, who has come to Bangalore to spend her vacation and visited the exhibition.

Famous sandalwood incense sticks from Karnataka and terracotta idols and woodcarving figures are also drawing crowds to the exhibition.

“The idea behind organising such fairs is not only about making profit. We want the customers to have direct interaction with the artisans and give feedback. Exhibitions are also conducted to create awareness among the buyers about indigenous crafts,” said Reddy.

The corporation, established in 1964, sells its product under the brand name Cauvery, a river that is a lifeline of people in the old Mysore region and several districts in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

Thousands of artisans across the state regularly take training in technical and design development to upgrade their skills from the experts of the corporation. It also provides bank loans and 50 percent subsidy on raw materials, such as sandalwood, silver and zinc, to artisans registered with it.

“From finance from banks, advanced training to marketing, the corporation is helping us to provide a regular livelihood and popularise our artworks across the world,” said pottery artiste Albert, who prefers to use only his first name.

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