Recently our beloved Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi on his visit to Banaras had shown his concern towards once a blooming toy-making and handicrafts industry of India. This country has always been known for its cultural legacy and art, now it is time for our modern society to embrace these traditional values for a vibrant tomorrow.
India has always been a major exporter of wooden toys, handicrafts and many places here have a special seat for its exquisite collection. Families for generations have passed their skills to their successors resulting in a symmetry of traditional crafts around the country.
Banaras also known as Varanasi, Kashi is one of the oldest epicentre for this wooden craft and handicrafts. Craftsmen here are famous for their unique craftsmanship and their toy-making industry is believed to be a 400-year-old industry, bright, colourful wooden toys and crafts are made by clusters of skilled craftsmen. We at Chitt-Chor had always been looking for an opportunity to experience this traditional form of toy making, which brought us to this enchanting city where we personally become acquainted with many artists who carry forward this legacy of toy making but unfortunately are leaving this industry due to dwindling market trends. The major reason behind this is the lack of demand or simply put in words this craft could not compete with our modern plastic products due to which most craftsmen are forced to leave this industry for a better source of income and people who are still engaged do not want their future generations to continue this tradition because of meagre income.
This brought us to a conclusion that without any reinforcement this art will soon fade out. This got us thinking how as a society can we contribute to the noble cause of preserving this traditional craft in a way to restore its former glory? We at Chitt-Chor are committed to revive this craft industry and whatever it has to offer to a global audience
The increase in value will help these craftsmen to gain more exposure of their wooden toy making, decorative items etc. We believe this system is contrived in a way as to not pose any harm to our ecosystem since all our products are completely handmade, which make these product more unique but with the introduction of modern products and toys, these items have lost their appeal and have failed to compete.
This does not mean the products must be bought only for its traditional values and design but if a market exists people would rather prefer modern products and toys which are more durable and cheaper in most cases. Instead, we can work towards building a space where this traditional craft can evolve with their traditional values to face contemporary lifestyle and products. We as a society should contribute by giving meaning and purpose to these crafts, specially artists, designers, intellectuals and every responsible and creative individual has to engage in the process to understand or question, “what needs to be done with the craft and the craftsmen for the production of better products?” as it will educate our society with a traditional value system. As designers, we can increase the demand by combining conservation with consumption, production and innovation into these products, thus helping us to establish these products in our modern lifestyle. Most of the modern products are factory-made which is very cheap and uniform in terms of design but are also very harmful to the environment and the money generated by them goes into the pockets of Industrialists, contrary to that these traditional crafts are done by a large section of people and most of them possess no harm to our environment, by increasing its demand a large section of society, especially craftsmen can become financially strong and this can also motivate others to continue this tradition.