All that glitters is not gold: How machine-made products have endangered the handicrafts industry

Summary: Machine-made replicas have emerged as the bane of Indian artisans. How can we help sustain the handicrafts industry? 

What makes the Taj-Mahal, the pyramids of Egypt, the terracotta toys of the Indus Valley civilization, the delicately woven pashmina shawls, the magnificent Durga murti worshipped at Durgotsav, so special? What is the ‘X-factor’ which is common in all? They are all made by hand. These are all part and parcel of our culture and exquisite manifestations of the talent of our artisans. Whether it is monuments, idols, or garments, our cultural legacy is shaped from the nimble fingers of the artisan. 

What are the hallmarks of a masterpiece? The love that has gone into creating them. The time, effort, and skill that is spent in bringing them to life. This is what sets a Savile Row suit or a Valentino gown apart from the regular factory-made suit or dress. The ‘it’ factor of hand-made products has always been the personal touch. Or more specifically the ‘master touch’ as these products are made by people considered the masters or experts in their field. This is what lends a hand-made product its one-of-a-kind beauty and sophistication. 

As is common with any quality product, it takes time to make handicrafts. The focus is often on quality rather than quantity. So a hand-made product such as fine clay pottery or wall hanging can also be a valuable statement home décor piece If you are tired of the same old glass, ceramic, or steel pottery and are looking for a more authentic, organic, and ‘desi’ alternative then deciding on a plan to find the best organic products to buy will be a great decision. 

Due to years of neglect, lack of proper exposure and a rapidly shrinking demand in the market, the Indian handicraft industry is treading on dangerous waters today.

The main enemy of the Indian handicraft industry however, are the mass-produced machine-made alternatives. This has resulted in the market flooded with well-engineered replicas that are marketed as ‘handmade’. These faux ‘handmade’ products are eating into the market share of the artisans and posing a threat to their livelihood. So when we think of the best organic products to buy, we must try to prioritize buying authentic, hand-made goods when shopping. As years of skill and hours of meticulous efforts have gone into making these handicrafts, they are a bit more expensive, but if you want a glass, a matka, or a diya that does not only last long but adds a bit of novelty and one of a kind rustic charm to your indoors you can never go wrong with home-made craftworks. Below we will outline few reasons why you consider buying handicrafts.

Eco-friendly: 

Handicrafts not only possess immense aesthetic value but are mostly made from eco-friendly materials, so you can now make your home beautiful and eco-friendly! For example, a clay wall–hanging or diya/lamp is aesthetically appealing and made from 100% eco-friendly material. So aside from being eye candy, these handicrafts are also the best organic products to buy

Designed To Be Unique 

If you want to break from the monotony of mass-produced products that are all carbon copies of each other, then handmade products can be a great option. Not only are they the best organic products to buy, but each handmade product reflects the artistry of the craftsman bringing them into existence. So no two hand-made products are the same. 

Sustains the handicrafts industry

Getting one of a kind hand-made product can not only amplify the beauty of your home decor but also support the artisans. Facing constant competition from cheaper machine-made products, Chinese alternatives, and unscrupulous middlemen, the Indian artisan community is a dying breed today. To add insult to injury, due to the outbreak of the pandemic and the subsequent announcement of lockdowns, the artisans are now more vulnerable than ever before. Due to rigid social distancing norms being observed, which means no melas/fairs or exhibitions. So for many artisans, life has come to a standstill. By buying handmade handicrafts you can support them and keep their art (as well as their livelihood) alive!

Birthday Gifts That Make a Difference

This year why not take a break from the same old gifts like photo frames, chocolates etc and gift your loved one a hand-made wall hanger, or pretty flower-stand ( you can buy some natural flowers too, to complete the picture) or a handmade ashtray? If you have a friend who is known to be eco-friendly or care for the environment, you can think of gifting them handicrafts which aside from their undeniable aesthetic value are also the best organic products to buy.  

They last long 

Think of some clay utensils some of you used during childhood. A lot of them lasted for many years. Although they might not always look fancy from the outside like ceramics, clay pottery is one of the best organic products to buy and can last long. In time these can also become the prized family heirlooms with great sentimental value! Imagine the thrill of using a diya that has been a constant during auspicious occasions for decades. The durability of clay or terracotta needs no introduction. The best example would probably be the terracotta toy figurines, and toy carts found at the ruins of Mohenjo-Daro. They withstood the ravages of centuries and are today some of the few souvenirs of one of the greatest civilizations in history. 

The future of the artisan community rests in our hands. It is up to us to help keep their legacy alive, by making their crafts a part of our daily lives. 

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