Burmese craftswomen's first exhibit

Dastkari haat

The enticing jade jewellery and home decor from craftswomen of Myanmar have earned appreciation from Delhiites at this year’s Dastkari Haat Samiti. People may be immersed in bargaining and buying Burmese Pathein umbrellas, puppets and velvet slippers, but they are unaware of the stories each of these creations have to tell – those of their hardworking creators who have come to India for the first time.

      It is the first time that they have got an organised platform to sell their products. Apologetic about not having much to share and contribute to the Indians during the festival, they feel lucky to get the opportunity of showcasing their hard work to a larger
audience.

“I see this bazaar as a dream for our people in Myanmar,” says Ei Ei Htwe who, along with Myint Htwe, Sandar Tun, Marip Hkawn Nan, Zin Zin Htaik and Khin Cho Mya, is showcasing her handicrafts at Dilli Haat in INA. “It is an entirely different experience here. In our country, the handicrafts are sold individually and not in an organised manner like it is here, and we lack the financial support from the authorities,” she tells Metrolife.

Surprised to see the situation of handicrafts at the festival, Ei Ei feels that if similar situation was there back home, there would have been more job opportunities.

“Handicrafts are especially for people who prefer working from home. Everybody loves handicrafts. It is good to see the prominence of handicrafts here. If the sector develops in this way, there will be thousands of job opportunities,” she says.

Myanmar, was under army rule for many years, and the handicrafts sector has been affected in both the scenarios. Along with the lack of interest and support from the higher income groups, they also lack sufficient manpower which prevents them to have
a continuous production.

“Our country is very rich with natural resources but our people are not rich. The authorities are not interested to support handicrafts. If we have a financial background, we can make a continuous production. There is also poor support for training new labourers. There are some NGOs who support us but not continuously,” explains Ei Ei.

However, given an opportunity like this (Dastakari) in their own country, she feels that they can contribute more to society for its development. “I would prefer a small and medium-sized enterprise, where we have a program for continuous production to meet the demands of the customer.”

The festival has been on for a week now and apart from all the knowledge that these Burmese women have got here, only one thing bothers them about the customers: bargaining. “Everyone here is very interested in our products but they are sensitive
 with the price,” says Ei Ei with a smile.

“I know that our prices are not too high. The consumers have the right to bargain if they want to make a purchase but handicrafts people are poor and people should not bargain on our products.”

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