The Lifestyle Portal became an instant fan of the beautiful fish logo of Gaatha Handicrafts and decided to check out this organization a little further.
Started by a committed and enthusiastic team of young alumni from the National Institute Of Design, Ahmedabad… we welcome you to a brand new story being told by them to you featuring the main protagonist – the rural artisans of India.
How did it all begin?
“Working on a craft documentation project at NID, we realised that there is a gap between the ocean of skill-based knowledge at one end and its seekers on the other. Documentations in the form of printed books and reports has been done many times but is often limited and inaccessible to the audience world over. It did not take us long to realise that all these wonderful craft stories needed to be told online….this led to the birth of Gaatha Blog,” recalls Shivani Dhar a part of the Gaatha team.
‘Gaatha’ means a great story – a legend of the crafts and their craftsmen (craftsmen and their crafts). As mentioned earlier, the sole purpose of the initiative was to tell stories, to create a database of the folklores, myths and the memoirs of the past that shape the social behaviour and understanding of our society.
Crafts being the outcome of the primary need of the people to hunt, farm, store, shelter and adorn are indigenously woven into their daily lives and so are the tales of their origin.
Shivani further adds, “Gaatha has a core team of enthusiastic bunch of friends who love traveling, documenting and writing; we started under the umbrella of the design incubation centre at NID without expecting much monetarily. “
The team has been getting an overwhelming response from readers across the world which of course is priceless!
Repeated false promises made to the craftsmen over past many years has left them sore. It is hard to break into the shell at times and that’s where we realised the need for better livelihood possibilities given their set of skills.
So when Gaatha goes and documents the stories of these craftsmen, it has a responsibility to bring them some business with the aim of the basic principle of story telling which is also to bring the faceless artisans to limelight.
Gaatha helps these authentic and beautifully handcrafted products reach their true connoisseur with the identity of their creator and we at The Lifestyle Portal patronize and follow!
The art and the courage to show what is true; be it the story, the craftsmen or the products.
The Lifestyle Portal was wondering how the art of story telling can bring social and commercial benefits to the artisans and this is what Shivani had to tell us –
Information brings enlightenment, which leads to the much required reforms, be it social or commercial. And a story well told has the power to engage and impact deeply. Most of us forget the stories we grew up listening to… but its those stories that we are told in the most tender years of our lives that define our beliefs and personalities and stay with us till the end…
Gaatha took it up to narrate the stories of living people and their amazing skills…that they have been nurturing since generations. People need to know these stories in order to appreciate the value and efforts of so many others that go into making their lives easier and beautiful and to distinguish real from fake. This would guide the flow of opportunities and resources in the right direction.
Gaatha does not believe in hiding the identities. Each of their stories has the name of the interviewed person going with it. The products also bear the name of their creator. The idea is to connect the buyer/admirer in say New York to the crafts person in the remotest village.
“We have also been successful in doing that to a great extent…we have inquisitive buyers and readers from backgrounds as varied as architecture, art, writing, social work, philanthropy, investment and story telling enquiring about various crafts posted on our website, for possibilities of working together and connecting for educational/commercial purposes (workshops and exhibitions abroad where the craftsmen travel and get exposure to the outer world)” smiles Shivani.
Gaatha has a range of products, authentically procured from the craftsmen across the country. Besides this they also innovate some products with the craftsmen if they see a potential in modernising the usability while keeping the basic techniques intact.
For instance, recently the team created a range of organic T-shirts with the ancient and dyeing block printing technique called Ajrakh. This is an innovation because printing Ajrakh on knits has been next to impossible so far.
Owing to its 16 steps long process involving printing, washing, dying and reprinting several times, it is difficult to achieve perfectly overlapping prints on stretchable knit fabric. Gaatha along with its master-craftsmen made it possible.
Gaatha offers products ranging from Rs 300 onwards, depending on the craft, the work, nature of the material used and its accessibility. Some of the highest ranging are the recently introduced ‘Pichvai’ and ‘Miniature’ style paintings by some of the finest traditional artists of the country. These are in natural colors and the prices have been kept on enquiry.