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PHILOSOPHY OF HANDWORK

A society from which beauty is removed becomes brutalized. The human craving for beauty has resulted in amazing forms of aesthetic creativity like architecture, gardens, performing arts, cuisines, sacred rituals, art and crafts. Over centuries, nothing has been able to suppress this urge to create beauty.

The industrial revolution and the intervention of machines for the creation of objects threw up the concept of utilitarianism, with minimal wastage of time and materials for any aesthetic fuss. Homogeneity was one of the outcomes of utilitarianism and modernity its patron. Machines dispensed with the ‘tedious’ traditions of the master-disciple or inter-generational method of knowledge dissemination, mostly undocumented and largely experiential. Machines have given rise to objects of mass production, which do not require the dexterity, knowledge skills and imagination required of handwork.

Crafts are an integral part of this experiential creativity and the conduit for the imagination of forms. It is an extension of the human mind given life through the hand – which results in a physical, scientific, intellectual, emotional, meditative and sacred product, usually born out of local culture, environment, lifestyle and materials. This gives rise to rasa, a deeply experienced mystical ecstasy by the handworker, a word usually associated with the performing arts, but one that can be used to describe the experience of handwork as well. Its imperfections are its charm, its non-standardization its special and unique quality. Craft is utility, decoration, ornamentation, meditation and aesthetics all rolled into a single product. Anonymity is part of the creative process for the maker as much as recognition.

“Ecology is common sense” said Steven Zahavi Schwartz, meaning it is the ability to see that one thing influences the other, the inter-relatedness of all things. Traditional crafts are an outcome of this connection with the local environment and the way of life of a particular community. Thus traditional crafts reduce the disruptive impact on the natural order of things. A crafted creation that emanates out of handwork is composed in human scale time allowing for the replacement of the materials used as opposed to the devastating impacts of rapacious mechanization and industrialization.

Modern architecture can be featureless like mechanized objects can be. Despite all its conveniences, the human being - organic, spontaneous, emotional and spiritual – longs to be in nature, surrounded by the soothing presence of undisturbed order and beauty. The craft experience is very similar to this longing. Post the ennui and mass quality of industrialized objects, the human quality of handwork beckons the discerning and sophisticated user of craft products who, by supporting handwork, celebrates its creator and the abstract quality of creativity to adorn, decorate, and use in daily life.

CRAFTISAN® celebrates and promotes this philosophy of handwork by offering you the best creations of India’s creative craft traditions through a traditional “haat” using a contemporary tool, namely the Internet.