Monday, March 10, 2008

Dying Arts

I read this article about how the artisans of Lucknow, famous for their traditional 'Lucknowi chikan' embroidery, are struggling on account of competition from the Chinese factories, where machines do faster & cheaper embroidery than the artisans.

Its sad to watch traditional arts die this silent death; maybe nobody will mourn their loss; maybe the next generation of these artisans will move on to better-paying jobs in some new BPO company in Lucknow or Delhi; maybe the knowledge will evaporate with this last generation of artisans; maybe *traditional* will soon mean something else; maybe *one-of-a-kind* would be a foolish thing to do.

My point in short: I own a lovely pink salwar-suit with chikan work on it; and I think I should preserve it better than I currently do.

8 comments:

Moi said...

we once made the "mistake" of visiting the place where the artisans weave this magic called Chikan.....the conditions they live in, thanks to local businessmen and export houses who exploit them, are piteous. There has been some effort to help them and their families in the form of goverment aid and NGOs like SEWA...but there's much more that needs to be done to keep the tradion alive. And now with the Chinese competiton/threat I wont be surprised if the art dies someday ......tragic, isn't it!!! same with several tribal arts of India that are dying a silent death!!!!

Radha said...

Moi,
Too bad that nobody thought of an Indian patent on these traditional arts.

Kanishka Agiwal said...

Does it matter? Like how the sewing machines took over during the industrial revolution. Isn't that a way to embrace change? Sentiments aside, but it is more like the survival of the fittest.

Radha said...

Kanishka,
Sure, it is an evitable cycle of change. Like weavers coped with the industrial revolution; or like the cycle-rickshaws coped with motorcars; i'm sure the chikan artisans will cope with the Chinese factories; they will survive & newer art forms will be born.

The sad part of course is that a great tradition will become a forgotten past. If only someone had had the foresight to get the art patented, the artisan community could've benefited from it.

Fighter Jet said...

its a tragedy of development..may they reinvent their talent and art .

Parth said...

That's unfortunate. I think it also boils down to how much people appreciate the difference and appreciate the handiwork of the craftsmen. It boils down to supply and demand ultimately.

Destitute Rebel said...

Talent and art is being lost all over the world, not just because of cheaper mass produced stuff but also because most of us consumers have lost interest in real handicrafts and works of art, its a change that most of us are willing and embracing, its a really sad change though and more needs to be done to conserve and increase the love of art and craftmanship.

Radha said...

Fighter Jet,
I'm sure they will re-invent.

Parth,
True.

D Reb,
I guess change is inevitable. New art forms are being born everyday & replacing the old ones. Its sad, no doubt; but I think also inevitable.