I have always been charmed and enthused by the work of artisans in any cultures around the world. When I met Ela for the first time, I found her to be timid, assumed lack of confidence. She came to my NGO as one of the artisans who wanted to participate in a fair taking place in USA. Over the period of years, as I came to know more about her, I realized, these are the people, which our society completely ignores, especially the educated masses, are truly empowered people in our society. She was one of the indigenous person serving economic and social goals in her own way working with women at grass root. I believe that Artisans provide income that complements survival, while reinforcing ethnic identity and cultural pride.
Ela specializes in Soof & Kharekh work; soof embroidery is done by the Soofs Sodha, Rajput and Megwar communities.
It is counted thread embroidery and involves geometric patterns. Any representational motifs are highly stylized. The surface satin stitch is worked from the back of the fabric. The threads of the weave are counted before inserting the needle. The sense of geometric patterns with the crafts persons is excellent and the designs are almost never pre-drawn. I asked Ela about her not being from sodha , Rajput or megwar community and was curious to know, how she learned with such finesse the work. She told me one of the most amazing stories, said she has been travelling within the Banaskantha district of Gujarat and she met group of women who were proficient in this work but they were not empowered and would not travel out of their houses to get work. Ela used to walk in the village to give them work and then sell that in the market. She finally was able to break the ice and win the confidence of these women. During the process she learned this amazing art form. One of her piece won her President of India’s award for her work.
Traditional handicrafts production requires little or no machinery and most often uses locally available raw materials, thereby stimulating local demand and generating employment in other sectors. Often, artisanry generates more income for producers than either agriculture or wage labor. Unfortunately, we have not realized the importance of the Art forms local to the community and also very important not realized the value of Artisans. Most profits have been going to the Traders and not the Artisans, who deserve it… We need to educate the society of this phenomenon and at least try to change at individual levels what can be done ….. or what should be done…..
As very aptly said by Oscar wilde :
“A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.”
And I believe that we should as a community value the Artisans…. As they form an integral part of our society…