Rare handicrafts for your collection

Last Updated 11 February 2013, 16:36 IST

There couldn’t be a better way to celebrate the month of romance. The recently concluded 35th Indian Handicrafts and Gifts Fair (Spring) 2013 brought together a most charming variety of crafts in all conceivable materials and designs. There were sparkling colourful works in glass, timeless pieces in wood, unique mouldings of metals, fascinating paper craft and much more.

The four-day event, held at the expansive India Expo Centre and Mart, Greater Noida, was visited by at least 5000 overseas buyers including the biggest retail houses like Walmart, Archies, Bolpze (Germany), Ross (USA), Artmano (Canada), gift shop and departmental store owners, manufacturers, purchasing and packaging agents.

This exhibition is held biannually by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts, Government of India. On the occasion, its chairman, Arvind Vadhera expressed, “I still remember when we first held this fair in 1994 with 313 exhibitors over an area of 5000 sq mtrs in Pragati Maidan. Today, the same fair consists of 2400 exhibitors and is held at the 2,39,000 sq mtrs wide India Expo Mart in Greater Noida. We can proudly claim that this is the largest fair of its kind in Asia.”

“The credit for this stupendous growth goes to our craftsmen. Inspite of the detrimental effects of recession, this sector marked a 23 per cent growth in 2012 alone. Our craftsmen have adapted to the needs of foreign clients by making say, Christmas and Halloween items besides traditional Ganesha idols. With such talent, we’re sure to prosper even more in the years to come.”

Metal craft formed the mainstay of this fair with over 100 exhibitors from Moradabad (UP). One of them, Shrai Bhantula explained, “Moradabad is known as the City of brass or pital nagri. The easy availability of other metals like iron and aluminium as well has led to the rise of a vibrant metal craft industry here. More than 1000 craftsmen make artistic brass ware and jewellery in Moradabad every day.” Shrai himself had exquisite metal furniture, mirror frames, candle tapers, beverage buckets, lanterns, storage boxes and many decorative items on show.

Another major attraction was glassware which came from Firozabad in UP. Visitors chose from attractive glass bangles and home furnishings like drinking bottles, wine glasses, candle holders, perfume bottles, chandeliers etc. An exhibitor Shravan Rathi informed us, “During ancient periods, invaders brought many glass articles to India. These, when broken, were collected and melted in Firozabad’s furnaces called ‘Bhainsa bhatti.’ Over time, a whole glass craft industry developed. Today, Firozabad, exports glassware worth crores every year to all parts of the world.”

Woodcraft came from Jodhpur in Rajasthan and Egmore in Tamil Nadu. Anil Daga of Rural Crafts Pvt Ltd explained, “Since Jodhpur suffers from frequent droughts, there is very little agriculture there, so people have made woodcraft their mode of living. The dry weather of the region also lends a unique shine to the paint on the wood.” He had old-world wood almirahs, cupboards and boxes besides colourful animal and bird figurines.

On the other hand, B Subramaniam from Egmore had neem wood sculptures of Lord Buddha, Ganesha, Krishna and his trademark flying horses.

A one-of-its-kind stall at the fair exhibited stone crafts. Chetan Choudhary from Udaipur had a variety of marble table tops encrusted with semi-precious stones in beautiful designs. “We have a replica of a table top installed in the Florence Museum of Stone Craft in Italy. Then there is another which resembles the work done on Taj Mahal. Though many different kinds of stones are used to prepare such table tops, these days, Agate is most popular. The colourful, multi-layered translucent stone lights up any room it adorns.”

With such variety in crafts, besides those available in leather, paper and cloth as well, no doubt the tourists left a happy lot. Jan Karel Konings of Belgium told us, “I am taking back candle holders, perfume bottles, gift boxes, paper lanters and loads of other things. With such pretty items, I am hoping to do a roaring business this Valentine’s Day.”  

(Published 11 February 2013, 16:36 IST)

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