September 6, 2020

The Importance Of Preserving Heritage Crafts

Kashmir is the heaven for the finest arts and crafts that have been carefully nurtured for the centuries. It (kashmir) isn’t a mere abode to breathtaking sceneries and picturesque landscapes, but has also been home to art forms with intricate and interesting details that has seen its admirers all over the globe. However, a certain shift in the conditions for these art forms, has reduced the process and has taken life out of what used to be identified as the selfhood of Kashmir and Kashmiris. Due to these shifts Kashmir has been arrested in a steep decline of its legacy. However here in article I argue that how Nurturing new generation of makers can bring this lost legacy back . Nurturing a new generation of makers is essential for the proliferation of craft, with a need for sufficient training, overall support and role models to encourage those with a desire to learn. Could more be done to preserve yesterday’s skills for tomorrow? For most of our history, making objects by hand was the norm, and the skills were passed from one generation to other. in this digital age when most people spend their days in front of computer screen , the thrill and sense of satisfaction in taking time to make something of yourself using hand is that much more important . Crafts form an integral part of our cultural heritage . which are now dying a silent death. The skills and techniques required are known by few . in almost all practising crafts as the craftspeople become older and retire from their work and there is no one comming into the crafts to take their place. New generation is not interested.
What makes craft so important? In an article in prince’s foundation London craft experts have given a varied opinion on “what makes craft so important”. The article titled preservation of heritage talks more about how hand can’t be replaced with technological explosion. We live in a digital world where digital explosion has made so many objects /categories redundant. These are things that once had a role that went far beyond utility. They were the possessions that we used to embody memories, to mark the essential landmarks of life, to show something about who we are. As we used them and lived with them, they marked the passing of time. A smart phone is not much compensation for a wristwatch inherited from a parent. So we can’t give up our tradition.
Our identity, our past: Craft is about connection – to nature, to one’s place and to oneself. It is about connecting the past to the present, while looking towards the future. There are about 2.50 lac artisans directly dependent upon crafts (handicrafts ) according a handicraft deptt handout in UT of jammu Kashmir. The need is to reach out to them ,provide all facilities that will yield results .the need is to nurture new and already existing talent in handicrafts . Without training the next generation of craftspeople, we are at risk of loosing our heritage . The overall industry scenario has changed , people are into making mass-produced items hence we are surrounded by mass-produced items, with the focus on production being quick and cheap to ensure the maximum profit for the people. at the top. I think there is a growing number of people that would like to go back to having items that are handmade, with unique characteristics and a story behind them. Items crafted the traditional way provide a link back to how our ancestors made things and this is appealing to a lot of people. Most of the people in our country love hand made products.
Art is loosing it’s grip and what can the next generation expect from a profession that favours patience, attention to details and precision over turning a fast profit?
Why has craft come under threat? A significant proportion of those working in the sector are approaching retirement and many are not currently undertaking activities to pass along their skills, handicrafts have become a part time Activity for many. There is also an ongoing challenge of encouraging the younger generation to see traditional crafts as a viable path – which it is – and one that can provide a varied, stimulating and rewarding career. People have been talking about the meaning of art, craft and design since centuries. It is a less prominent part of the conversation now. Survival is perhaps the key driver. The other important thing is that With the advent of globalization and the availability of cheaper and more varied products, crafts face severe competition in contemporary markets. They are typically perceived as traditional, old-fashioned and antithetical to modern tastes. There have been limited efforts to reposition the image of crafts and build consumer appreciation of the history and cultural identity associated with handmade products.
Consumption patterns: How can we best preserve crafts for the next generation? The provision of suitable training routes is vitally important – it is a diverse field and there must be a variety of educational pathways available that are flexible, supportive and innovative. The link between theory and practice is an important one, with strong links between practitioners, students and sector organisations crucial to not only encouraging but facilitating the next generation to take up traditional crafts. By instilling in our children the value of working hard and learning a skill. By doing this they will then have a better understanding of the value and the time that has gone into making handmade pieces and will treasure them as much as we do. In my experience it does seem to be that the older you get the more interested in history – particularly your own history – you are. How your ancestors lived and worked has a certain fascination and by maintaining traditional crafts you’re continuing this invisible thread that links you to your predecessors……….
(The author is a craft Management design and Entrepreneurship graduate. Views are his own) [email protected]

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