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Crossing borders

Crossing borders
Dastkar re-opens its Nature Bazaar venue at Andheria Modh after the monsoon break with an exciting South Asian Bazaar. Craftspeople and crafts organisations from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Afghanistan come together with their Indian counterparts to share and showcase talents, techniques, and products. Threads and textures of diverse crafts and textiles - binding and bringing us together. Craft is a unique strength that Asian countries share. A centuries-old common cultural heritage of extraordinary weaving, embroidery, block printing, leather and metal work, wood carving, basketry, and terracotta traditions connects us together at a time when politics and land and water disputes seek to divide us.

The Dastkar South Asian Bazaar  in association with Delhi Tourism is a coming together of these common strands – a meeting and celebration of skillsets, traditions, and people. Pakistani ajrakh block printing, and leatherwork will find matching echoes with that of craftspeople from Rajasthan and Kutch, while women phulkari, jisti, and suf embroiderers from Punjab and Barmer will counter those from Sind and Afghanistan. Shibori tiedye and indigo dying from Bangladesh will vie with Indian bandini and laheria. Kantha and sozni embroidery link both countries, but each has its own characteristic style and motif tradition. The basketry and intricate backstrap weaving of Bhutan, literally ‘embroidery on the loom,’ has resonances with that of Assam and the North East, while Indian ikat and Bangladesh jamdani weaving will display the intricacy and skill of other handloom weaving traditions.

Embroidered, punched and cutwork leather is a specialty of both Punjab and
Rajasthan, and juthi makers from across the borders meet and compete. Each country and region shares a common heritage of amazing and varied craft traditions, with each region and community developing its own unique skill directory and identity. Come discover the richness and diversity of South Asian Crafts. The Dastkar South Asian Bazaar is a small but colourful window to our neighbouring world and its hand crafts and culture. Workshops on design, marketing, and product development, will provide a forum for sharing expertise and experiences, and food, dance and music will add their own magic to the ambience.

Dastkar is a society for crafts and craftspeople that aims at improving the economic status of craftspeople, thereby promoting the survival of traditional crafts.  It was founded in 1981 by six women who worked in the craft and development sector, including Laila Tyabji who is the current Chairperson.

Dastkar strongly believes in ‘craft’ as a social, cultural and economic force that despite being marginalized due to urbanization and industrialization has the strength and potential to play a vital role within the economic mainstream of the country.
The crux of Dastkar’s programme is to help craftspeople, especially women, to use their own traditional craft skills as a means of employment, income generation and economic self-sufficiency.

Dastkar guides the process of developing a craft – from identifying the skill and creating awareness of its potential, in both craftsperson and consumer, to developing, designing, costing and then marketing the product, and finally suggesting the proper usages and investment of the income generated.

The objective is to make craftspeople self-reliant, independent of both the commercial middleman and of organisations like Dastkar, by allowing them to market and sell contemporary products directly, and not simply subsist through subsidised craft. Craft skills range from textile based craft producer groups to terracotta. The product ranges developed include garments and accessories, home furnishings, toys, stationery and objects d’art.
Dastkar ensures that the end product is competitive, not just in its worthiness of purpose or the neediness of its producer, but in cost utility and aesthetic – a consumer does not buy out of compassion!

As groups become self-sufficient, Dastkar directs its support to new groups and assists them in their growth. Presently, Dastkar provides a range of support services including skills upgradation, design workshops and training in production and management to several of the 350 plus craftgroups it works with from across most Indian states. All groups benefit from the marketing activities Dastkar undertakes through the organisation of its regular Bazaars and exhibitions.

These Dastkar Bazaars and exhibitions, where artisans sell their products directly to the customers, expose craftspeople to the market and give them a firsthand knowledge of customer tastes and market trends. Dastkar also holds an export licence, thus enabling it to also provide an alternative international market for craftspeople.
Apart from the support services and craft development consultancies Dastkar provides to its own family of producer groups, it is also regularly asked to provide evaluation and consultancy services to other government, non-government and international agencies.
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