Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Project – Visibility of Folk & tribal Crafts of Bengal

In theory, the prodigal globalize world of the new millennium, the eco-system of the market forces controls the demand-supply curve. Some say, the central centrifugal force of the market, tries to exclude the vast existence of folk & tribal crafts & ideas, which has a direct confrontation with the existing western value systems of “modern” technologies. Forces of civil society feel, market forces used to create a situation to knockout other ideas which have a direct battle with the idea of centralized globalization.
But in practice, it is seen that globalize market forces use to leave some a tiny operative space for some operators – even those products produced by traditional folk & tribal communities & not adhere to the hub & spoke model. The chances of existence of these traditional products are not very blink even in this culling of market spaces. The centralized globalization silently eating the rural pie for some decades so that, some of the traditional forces have to make a forced exit from the scene.
It is a sad fact that in the dependable rural market space, operated for thousands of years, the traditional folk & tribal products loosing fast due to sea change in the livelihood options, aspirations & loads of other related factors of the vast rural communities. The time has arrived to find out new niche urban market space for the survival of the traditional craftspersons and folk & tribal crafts. As the middleclass and other related social strata is constantly on the go to find out the root, it is the right time to have penetrate in the urban middleclass dominated market across the State of West Bengal first.
The initiative thus initiates to create a market niche to these traditional & innovative folk & tribal crafts and emphasized to penetrate enough to a level that the products do create eye catching visibility leverage amongst the potential buyer’s buying eco-system. To make this fruitful we need to create chance to make branded chain primarily crafts shop in the district cities, towns, as well as in the Mahanagar, Kolkata.
Kalaboti Mudra
Kalaboti Mudra is a non-funded trust body of the artisans, organized to document folk & tribal traditional knowledge & technology as this is THE vital part and missing link of cultural history of Bengal, which is eroding rapidly for last two centuries or so. We in our trust do feel that most of the traditional artisan and communities are feeling the heat of the changing scenario and evicted from their age old professions and market with a falling income.
The Kalaboti Mudra is not a funded organization. We are doing various peripheral works like erecting theme puja pandal, managing various events, so that some of the community people can earn something out of these with due respect & dignity. We are selling some of the authentic community creations at the market place to make us sustainable. Though the market forces are not very conducive to make these products marketable, we can happily say that as a nonfunded organization like us surviving because of selective marketing these products to the connoisseurs, friends of Kalaboti Mudra.
The Majestic People
These are majestic communities from time immemorial, playing magical tri-roles in the traditional societies like India, China and Persia, as a creative genius, as a traditional engineer/keeper of indigenous knowledge and above all marketing their products not only in their own backyard, they use to sell their commodities, expertise throughout the world stage. These are the Communities who created Iron Pillar of Delhi, cave art of Ajanta-Ellora, Barbudur, AnkorVat, numerous Buddhist Hinyan-Mahayan Stupas across the world and thousands of majestic milestones & creativities.
Of late introduction of new western “modern” alien technology, new concept of implanted marketplace, new centralized market ethos drove them out from the competitive market place. One can take the case of conch cell crafts persons. They possessed only  shankher korat as a tool apart from three or four others. Now technology introduced drill machines, which is gaining ceremonious foothold, most of the traditional craftspersons are evaporating from the social scenario as they could not collaborate with the market. The renegades from the folk & tribal communities, who afford to collaborate with the market forces more cohesively, earning money opulently. We do fear, in the verge of introduction of western technologies, in the next decade or so these craftspersons will be placed in the history page and may be in the text book.
Some of Our Initiatives
It is a sad fact that the 8 millennium old Bengal’s  folk and tribal art, knowledge-base and crafts was not rightly promoted throughout the world, not even in Bengal. This is the right time to promote the culture and arts and knowledgebase of these parts of the world.
Believe us; various emporiums including those are government owned is flooded with urban fakes prepared by wealthy urban & renegades. These are neither folk nor authentic tribal. The urban wealthy prodigal fake artists are eating the bread & butter of these magical communities by aping their products and posing these are folk and tribal craft.
We have published some of our documentation works at lokfolk.blogspot.com/,  or buybengalihandicrafts.blogspot.com/ or kmneinitiative.blogspot.com/.  We have also organized the communities to come together under the banner Bongiyo Paromporik Karou O Bastro Shilpi Sangho aar Bongiyo Paromporik Abhikor Shilpi  Sangho  to undertake marketing in national & international arena and to strengthen these communities against the market forces. We dreamt to have committees in all the districts of the State of West Bengal. Still now we have organized only 8 districts – Purulia, Moorshidabad, Malda, Dakhin Dinajpur, Uttor Dinajpur, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri & Coochbihar. We need to hold every ones hand to do this.
Apathy of new generations
The new generations are reluctant to take communities artworks as their livelihood. This is one of our prime concerns which drive us more & more. Though most of them are genius at their work, they are not finding the livelihood as sustainable as older days. Most of them leave the age old tradition they inherited. In many cases, one or two are surviving because of their mental strength in their community.
Furthermore, during last half a century or so, these unique traditional crafts-persons lost their self respect as a traditional artist, keeper of traditionality, and the beholder of creative arts & fountainhead of the traditional culture. They degraded as mere a chunk of labour force. So leaving the crafts works, doing anything as a laborer at even in NREGA is not a bad option for them. Thus the traditional art form, which is the base of Bengali culture, suffers more, degrading day by day.
Mina Dey of Ghughumari, Coochbihar - A case study
In Ghughumari II block of Coochbihar, there are at least 24,000 mat workers. Mina Dey one of the wonder girls of Shitalpati mat of Ghughumari, Coochbihar. All the family members of her fanily used to weave mat. She is 16 and did not appear in Madhyamik, became one of the finest craftspersons to discover technology and art of the colourful Jamdani graphics in shitalpati.
It is to be noted that even the state award winners husband-wife duo, could not even do this. She weaved North Bengal University’s Convocation Mat, which was written there. The catch is that, in the Siliguri town it was known that that mat was weaved not by Mina, but some other weaver who has secured the order from that University. 
The whole family(including Mina) hardly earning Rs.2000 a month by weaving this pati. We do fear that one day she could leave this majestic artwork and become house maid to earn her bread. And this new techniques will be vanished into the oblivion.
We want to thousands innovator like Mina, who can create a difference in the production of crafts & can earn enough livelihood.
Shrinking of Traditional Marketplace
As the rapid spread of globalization and new technology and new breed of mainstreaming of culture in the traditional market space, the village market is shrinking rapidly for the artists and artisans of the rural Bengal. The need to spread and sustain in a new but more sustainable urban market place is a need of the hour. We are preaching a more & more community-based sustainable business model to sell these folk-o-tribal crafts and disseminate their knowledge, myth, sustainable livelihood. These community art leaders do not want dole or grant to make their livelihood. They relied on the traditional rural marketplace for thousand of years. They researched, toiled, produced various utility products & sold their sustainable rural market.
The VISIBILITY Action Theory – The shop, The Hub Space
Of late they could not find this market as reliable as previous years. New technologies, new products, new ideas flooding the rural market like fire. Plastics are such nuisance which is killing various technologies. So we have to find out new market place, in our experience, it is the new urban markets which can create a niche. Merely existing and surviving in the market is not a prime criterion as the VISIBILITY is the key to make products move. These crafts as heritage products should survive at every sphere of the market. Thus keeping these products at various shops called Huts at various markets are the key. Thus the rural market broken linkage can be cured at their urban counterparts. 
We have two distinct ways to make this market linkage a) tangible b) intangible. Let’s explain these ideas in details. 
a) Tangible – these products should be displayed at various shops to make a mark in the mind of buyers. A chain of shops should be created to help these artisans to produce more to earn their livelihood. The committee will run the show as they are the keepers & custodian of the tradition. The jamming of shop space should be larger as the shop owner should able to earn handful of profit to run the whole show. Around these shops there will be hoards of friends as a “Friends of Artisans”.  They will buy a card and committed to buy at least some product from the shops.
The shops will also sell traditional performing artists shows to the local communities also.  The demand for local culture can be a great demand and the shop owner can extensively market the product with the help of the marketing persons of the organization & can earn enough money.
The second part of the tangible marketing will be of international presence. There are various international programme, melas, fairs where various authentic folk crafts can be sold.
b) In-tangible - The second option will be of intangible marketing, though an integrated website throughout the world in a phased manner. A portion of the profit will be ploughed back to the communities again as the communities will be in the functional in-charge of the project as well as the shop owners will get a part of it.
The Items
         শোলার মুখোশ, ঘর সাজানো উপকরণ আর শোলার ফুল – sholapith Mask, Decorative items and flowers
         কাঠ  - ঘর সাজানো, তৈজস, আসবাব, মুখোশ, অন্যান্য – wood – Decorative items, utensils, mask, others, furniture
         ডোকরা – Dokra metal crafts
         ঢোকড়া – Dhokra – a traditional jute weaving of Rajbansi community of Dinajpur
         বাঁশঘর সাজানো, আসবাব, মুখোশ, তৈজস – bamboo – decorative items, mask, utensils, furniture
         পাটঘরসাজানো, নানান ধরণের ব্যবহার্য, জুতো – jute – decorative items, other utilities,
         পোড়ামাটিতৈজস, ঘরসাজানো, মুখোশ – terracotta or fired clay – utensils, furniture, mask
         পটপাটা, চৌকো, জড়ানো, যম – Pot – scroll, square, Jom Pot
         সরালক্ষ্মী, দুর্গা, আদুরি অন্যান্য – Sora – Decorative Earthen utensils
         মাদুর এবং মাদুরের নানান দ্রব্য – Weaved Mat, Other utility items
         গালার পুতুল – Clay Lac doll
         মোষের শিংএর জিনিষপত্র – Utilities of Horn,
         কালাগাছের সুতোর জিনিস – banana fiber utilities
         মুখোশ – masks of bengal
         শীতল পাটি এবং পাটির নানান দ্রব্য – cool mat and other utilities
         নানান ধরণের গামছা আর গামছা দ্রব্য -
         আসবাবপত্র কাঠ, বাঁশ – furnitures – bamboo wood
         গয়নাকাঠ, বাঁশ, পাট, মাটি – jewelry – wood, bamboo, jute, fired clay
         বেলের মালা  
         দশাবতার তাস আর দুর্গা পট  - ganjifa cards & Devi Durga Pot
         মাটির নানান কাজ – fired clay materials
         সেরপাই – serpai – weighing pot
         চৌকো হ্যারিকেন – sqared haricane
         Cane products – Decorative items, utensils, others, furniture,
         শাড়ি – saree
         রাজবংশী গয়না – metal tribal  jewelry
         পুতুলনাচের পুতুলসুতো পুতুল, দস্তানা পুতুল, ডাং পুতুল – rod, string glove puppet
         তৈজসপত্রমাটি, শিং, কাঠ, ধাতু,– furniture – fired clay, horn, wood, metal,
         নানান লৌকিক আদিবাসী পরিধেয়, হাতে বোনা পাঞ্জাবি ইত্যাদি- various tribal cloths
         অন্যান্য ঘর সাজানোর জিনিস – decorative items
         কাঁথা স্টিচ, বাটিক – kantha steech, batik, hand paint, wood carving print
         ব্যাগপাট, লেদার, কাপড় – bags – jute, leather, other weaved materials