NCERT Class 12 Heritage Craft Craft In The Past

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CRAFTS IN THE PAST

LE T us begin by understanding the myriad roles a craftsperson plays in the society as a designer, a problemsolver, a creator and as an innovator, leave alone the maker and seller of craft objects. The craftsperson therefore is not just the maker of an object, and a craft object is not just a beautiful thing—it has been created to serve a particular function to meet a specific need of a client. For instance, the client or the consumer may ask the craftsperson to make him/her a cup which he/she can comfortably hold and from which sip a hot drink. The craftsperson, in this case, a ceramicist, will design a cupwith a handle comfortable to hold, and shape the cup in such a way that it is neither too heavy nor too big. In this example you can see that the client has given the craftsperson a problem to solve—to make a cup for a hot drink. The craftsperson has found a good solution to the problem by designing a cup with a handle. The design elements in this case are the handle, the shape of the cup, its weight and a suitable size to make it comfortable to use. If the cup is pleasing to look at, that would be an additional benefit and we could say that the cup designed by the craftsperson is also aesthetically pleasing. The critical factor, however, is not the motifs and decoration on the cup, but rather the craftsperson’s skill in finding appropriate and innovative solutions to the client’s problem RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CLIENT AND CRAFTSPERSON

There are three important factors to be considered in this case: (i) the client and his/her needs, (ii) the nature of the problem to be solved, and (iii) the craftsperson who is skilled and innovative enough to find a solution to the problem. Close exchange between the client and the craftsperson is very important for the end product t o b e a p p ro p r i a t e . T h e c l i e n t h a s t o i n s p i r e t h e craftsperson to produce, innovate and create new and exciting objects all the time. The craftsperson, in turn, needs to understand the demand of the client. If the client orders a hundred diyas for Diwali every year, the order is quite routine and boring. Should the client ask for one stand with a hundred diyas instead, the potter has to work out how to make a stand that will hold a hundred diyas and still be easy to transport, to be repeatedly filled with o i l a n d s o o n . T h e r e f o r e t h e relationship between the client and the craftsperson is vital.

A craftsperson therefore has a very important set of skills by which he/ s h e c a n d e s i g n , i n v e n t , s o l v e p ro b l em s, c re at e, an d se ll . E v ery country in the world needs such people who are skilled in creating practical, e ff i c i e n t s o l u t i o n s t o e v e ry d a y problems. Craftspersons skilled in fabricating with different materials, and communities who can constantly innovate and design new products to meet changing needs are necessary in all societies, ancient or modern. For instance, the everyday problem of having to carry large quantities of w a t e r o v e r l o n g d i s t a n c e s w a s uniquely solved in Kutch—the matkas (water pots) fit into one another and can be balanced on the head of a w om a n , l e a v i n g h e r h a n d s fr e e ! Similarly, today we appreciate the talent of a person who designs a new computer application, or makes a breakthrough in technology.

In this chapter you will see that India has always had a large community of innovative craftspeople from the earliest periods of recorded history. It was the crafts communities of different regions who designed homes for the poor and the rich that suited the climate, built places of worship for any god that the community wished to worship, who made cooking utensils that simplified food preparation, created items for the home, and for  people to wear, like textiles for different occasions andvarying climates, and jewellery of all kinds.

CRAFTS FOR PROBLEM-SOLVING

Whenever you look at a craft item try and discover what problem the craftsperson has solved and, what the client may have asked for. You will recall that in the textbook, E xploring Indian Craft Traditions—Field Study and Application in Heritage Crafts, the first chapter, ‘Crafts at Home’, was a detailed exposition of the design aspects of the lota by Charles Eames.

EXERCISE

1. Investigate and find an example of an innovative design solution to an everyday problem devised by craftspersons in your vicinity. It could be adding a tap to a matka, creating a sequence of bangles aesthetically linked together so that they do not need to be individually worn, etc. Describe the ‘problem’and the creative design innovation and purpose.

2. Through conversation with local artisans record a short ‘oral history’ of the development of a craft in your neighbourhood. Describe the evolution of craft products to meet contemporary needs.

3. Investigate the concept of crafts as a seasonal or part-time activity in the working pattern of craftspeople in your neighbourhood. How many are fulltime, part-time, seasonal? Make a table/pie chart of the same.

4. Make a list of crafts in your state that

 are made by specialised crafts communities;

 bring additional income to agricultural communities;

 are made exclusively by women;

 are made by men;

 are made by a single artist;

 are made by groups of craftspeople.

5. Describe how you would set up a museum corner for your school.

6. Explain why you think there should be a crafts museum in every state and whether it should have an all India perspective or focus on those local crafts that are disappearing.


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