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Kutch crafts are back in vogue
20 February 2007

After the devastating earthquake six years ago, the traditional artisans of the Kutch region of Gujarat are back in the fray with brighter prospects for their handicraft. 
The earthquake hit around one lakh artisans in the remote areas of the Kutch district, considered the abode of many a handicraft. The earthquake had taken hundreds of lives. A majority of them were skilled artisans who made a living out of their skills handed down to them for generations in this semi-desert area.   
Thanks to the timely help from the governments and NGOs, both from within the country and abroad, these artisans are back in business. 
The Sri Kutch Kalyan Trust at Sodha Camp at Zhurah took up the rehabilitation of the victims of the earthquake and The revival of handicraft of Gujarat in general and the Kutch district in particular. Enrolling artisans as members, it began to train them in designing, production and marketing of their craft works.   
“The approximate loss then was as high as 75 per cent. But, six years later, these artisans are looking at exports, after a wide exposure in the country’s markets”, trust’s advisor Daduji Soda told Business Standard on Tuesday. 
“A new village of artisans was built and named Hazarathpur after the famous Hazarath printed textiles. With over 500 members today, the trust has an annual production worth Rs 30 lakh. The Kutch artisans bagged the lion’s share of national awards for artisans.”   
Traditional crafts like tie & die, ethnic embroidery, woollen shawls, leather items and iron bells with copper-coating producing different sounds which are part of the social, religious and economic lives of the Kutch artisans, are back on the market. 
Other cottage and crafts like patchwork, leather embroidery, textile jewellery, Azarak prints, batik prints and decorative crafts have been revived. Even lacquer work has been revived with about 15 families engaged in it, said Daduji.   
The trust organises handicraft exhibitions at prominent cities regularly. It brings a couple of artisans from Kutch for direct interaction with buyers and demonstration of their skills.  As a result, the Kutch artisans, who had lost hope six years ago, have a wider market exposure and better demand for their traditional items. Now, we are exploring exports to the US and London,” he added. 
The trust has arranged an exhibition of Gujarat’s handicraft for the first time in Mysore for eight days from February 14. On display will be the items from Kutch, said Government of India Handicrafts Marketing & Service Extension Centre Assistant Director S C Devaramani. 

Courtesy: Business Standard - India kutchhis globally , from Mumbai

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