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Crafts and Craftsmanship (Studies in Traditional Knowledge in India - Volume 1)

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Item Code: UBF737
Author: Lok Nath Soni and B. Francis Kulirani
Publisher: Anthropological Survey of India, Kolkata
Language: English
Edition: 2009
Pages: 336 (B/W Illustrations)
Other Details 9.50 X 6.50 inch
Weight 820 gm
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Book Description
About The Book
This volume accommodates 11 articles on various crafts. Out of these, three are based on crafts of Kachchh, Gujarat. In fact, the splendid craft of Kachchh is not only unique but owes its origins right back to the Harappan civilization, as is envisaged from the fragments of craft objects found during the excavation at Dholavira in Khadir, an island of the Rann of Kachchh. In the remaining eight papers the craft of Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh in north- eastern part of India, West Dinajpur (presently bifurcated into North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur districts) of West Bengal in the eastern part of India, Bastar (now divided into three districts viz. Bastar, Kanker and Dantewada) of Chhattisgarh in the central part of India, Almora of Uttaranchal in north-west India, Sawantwadi in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra in western part of India, Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh and Mysore district of Karnataka (under the canopy of southern region of India) as well as Nicobar group of islands (island region of Bay islands) have been written on. Thus, all macro Indian regions are covered in the present book.

We have intended that each paper reflect upon the socio-cultural and techno ecnomic fabric of the selected craft. The present volume aims at bringing out the linkages of craft activities with the structure of living societies, organization of production, marketing and utilization of natural resources. The volume has also dealt with traditional wisdom and skills involved in crafts, the traditional value system and beliefs that are expressed through the crafts and finally the integrational perspective of the crafts and craftsmen in our pluricultural society where multi-ethnic mosaic is a reality. We hope the readers will get a feel of the unobtrusive way in which Indian craft has held together our continuing tradition.

About the Author

Dr. Lok Nath Soni (b.1948) obtained his MA (1971) and Ph.D. (1979) degrees in Anthropology from Ravishankar University. Raipur, Chhattisgarh. He has conducted research work in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and Rajasthan on various communities, both tribal and non-tribal Dr. Soni is the author of the books Bhil Sub-Groups in Caste Milleu (1993). The Cattle and the Stick: An Ethnographic Profile of the Rout of Chhattisgarh (2000) and Enthographic Museum A House of Art (2005). He is one of the editors of the book Frontiers of Anthropology (2002) and is also editor of An Appraisal of Anthropological Perspective in Ethnographic Museums of India (2005). Currently, Dr. Soni is attached to the Anthropological Survey of India as its Keeper in the Central Museum at Kolkata.

Dr. B. Francis Kulirani (b.1952) is a Superintending Anthropologist (Cultural) and Head of Office, North East Regional Centre, Anthropological Survey of India, Shillong since 2002. Dr. Kulirani joined the Survey in 1977 and served in various capacities at the Southern Regional Centre, Mysore. He is Founder Secretary of Anthropological Association, Mysore, Founder Member, Indian National Confederation & Academy of Anthropologists, Kolkata; Life Member and Current President of the North East Council of Social Science Research, Shillong. He was the State Coordinator and Co-Editor of the People of India: Kerala (State Series Vol. XXVII, 2002) and Verrier Elwin as remembered by family and friends (2003) respectively. Dr. Kulirani was awarded the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute's Canadian Studies Fellowship 2006.

In anthropological parlance craft is considered a part of material culture which manipulates natural resources to produce utilitarian objects in order to maintain and secure necessities of life. Craft, thus, has always been a basic activity in human society. It is considered more cohesive and permeating in relationship than language, for it can penetrate man's barrier of communication. Craft is both a method of production and a form of artistic activity which always mingled with inner feeling, expression and emotion of the creator. Indian craft is a confluence of aesthetics, utility and heritage.

Craft is as old as civilization itself. The cradle of mankind is a treasure-trove of ancient craft which gives an insight into grandeur and indigenous craft traditions. Upto preindustrial era craftsman and his task or creative craftsmanship formed a viable socio-technical unit. Exclusiveness and occupational compartmentalization by and large gave rural crafts in pre-industrial era an ethnic character. Traditional craft is thus an expression of human spirits in material form which gives delight to humankind. In the world of craft there is no hiatus between utility and aesthetics. In a work of good craftsmanship the article is useful, it would also be beautiful in appearance and also bring joy. Craft goes in society with the sign of cultivation of sensitivity and the string of mellowing of humanism. It brings elegance and grace into the otherwise harsh and drab human life. After Independence, with the rapid growth of industrialization, handicraft too was incorporated into India's economic planning. At the same time, consumer interest in craft attracted a lot of shopping interest. Indian crafts nowadays have a tremendous market potentiality both in domestic and international sector and have acquired great value among tourists. It has always survived because of its dynamism, resilience and compelling need.

This volume reflects a kaleidoscopic picture of India's craft and craftsmanship. I hope that this volume will be very useful for students, researchers, academicians, administrators and readers from all walks of life.

The term "craft" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘craeft’ meaning strength, skill or conning Craft includes all activities that produce or modify objects by manual means with or without the use of mechanical aids. In the second sense craft is synonymous with guild which is applied to occupational associations. Anthropologists prefer to signify craft as technology in order to refer to the process of manufacture and material culture for the artifacts related with the craft (Crowley, 1972), Scholars are of the opinion that craft is an art or skill or manual art (Bark. 1978), man's creation (Chattopadhyay, 1975) and technical activity (Crowley, 1972) which always mingles creator's feeling, emotions and expression At the same time craft is an integral component for regulating one's own social function, economic and religious performance.

Craft is the earliest expression of man. In craft object one can see a repertoire of symbolic abstractions which are expressive of man's beliefs, fears and aspirations (Dhamija, 1979). Jaitly (1990) is right to say that crafts present both the widest canvas of creative activity and the broadest spectrum of development In this regard Pal (1978) observed that craft is both a method of industrial production and a form of artistic activity. The crafts are basically utilitarian in which efforts have been made to introduce aesthetic appeal. Sharma (1992) has not exaggerated when he has written that craft in a society is the sign of sensitivity and the stirring and mellowing influence of humanism. It stands for man's endeavour to bring elegance and grace in an otherwise harsh and drab human existence.

Dhamija (1977) observed that there are three distinct types of craft which have evolved through the years. Firstly, the folk craft objects which are created by the people for their personal use. Secondly, the crafts which have developed around religious centers. Thirdly, the commercial craft, which are made in specialised centers for which a complete mastery over the technique is necessary.

The craftsman is a person who has a knack or aptitude for craft and acknowledged skill at it (Dark, 1978) by the society, while craftsmanship is an attitude of the mind. It is a means by which a craftsman expresses his innermost feelings (Waterer, 1968). Craftsmanship is older than civilization itself. As long as 35.000 years ago, men were working in bone, antler, stone and wood to make harpoons, arrow heads, scraping tools and the like (Reader's Digest, 1982). Not only the crafts referred to as above, but most of the crafts are the age old heritage of man. The process of transmission of hereditary skill from generation to generation is an important factor in the history of Indian craftsmanship.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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