Every year with beginning of winter season Kolkata organizes Handicrafts Fair. The duration of the fair is tentatively of one month, from mid November to mid December. This fair was organized by the Department of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Textiles, Government of West Bengal. This department has been implementing different schemes and programmes for development of handicraft products in West Bengal. Not only in Kolkata, round the year the department has been organising State Level handicraft fairs named “West Bengal State Handicrafts Expo” in different districts of WB like Siliguri, Midnapore, Burdwan etc. It is during this part of the year when artisans, craftsmen, weavers and the entire pool of art lovers will gather together for the biggest celebration of creativity, or in other words it is the time when Bengal’s creative side would be on display at India’s largest handicraft fair – West Bengal State Handicraft Expo.
Handicraft is one of the few things that the state of West Bengal is famous all over the world and the artisans from these states have been participating in various international and national fairs, where their handicrafts have been displayed and lauded. One of the main area the government is trying to achieve is to convert skilful handicraft artisans of the state into entrepreneurs through cohesion of business and art. Every year about 12000 are given direct marketing support through participation in such fairs free of cost. Nearly 3000 artisans from different parts of the state like Hooghly, Nadia, Bankura, Bishnupur, Murshidabad, Darjeeling are participating in this handicraft fair. WB Handicraft Expo gives us an opportunity to adore the talents of immense hard work and patience of men and woman of distant villages of rural Bengal.
Artwork from Phulia, Shantipur, Dhaniakhali, Krishnagar, Purulia, Bankura, Hoogly, Birbhum, Bishnupur, Midnapore are on display. These places are considered as the underdeveloped parts of West Bengal, but on the contrary these places represent the true talent and heritage of the state – the source of the widest form of arts and crafts. The small-scale handicraft industry of rural Bengal contributes to a handsome amount to India’s foreign exchange earning. Handicrafts from this state decorate the shops of cities in Europe, US, China and elsewhere. Beautiful jewellery like bangles, earrings made of wheat, bamboo, seeds, and even fish scales have been put on display. Each of these creations showcases the unique talent of the hands of the creator.
BETTER THAN THE BEST
Among the popular artefacts, the best on display are undoubtedly the clay models from Krishnanagar, terracotta art from Bankura, shell art from Midnapore, Kantha stitch and Batik from Bolpur, Baluchari from Bisnupur, potchitra from Birbhum, Tant from Shantipur, Phoolia and Dhoniakhali, Silk from Murshidabad, masks from Purulia, woolens of Darjeeling, Cane crafts from Jalpaiguri, besides jute and wooden artworks, carpets, handbags, wall hangings and many more.
West Bengal heritage of handicrafts is legendary. The exquisite texture of Baluchari Sarees, Silk and Tasar Textile from Murshidabad, Birbhum, Bankura, Hooghly and Nadia districts have become the Choice of the Century. The fascinating handloom textiles of the same regions as mentioned above are now attracting world-wide attention. Besides the garment materials, jute products, wood and cane products, conch-shell products, brass wares and folk dolls and handicrafts belonging to different schools of art as Dokra art etc. now embellish a large many drawing rooms.
The salient point, however, to be noted in this context is that each of these schools. In spite of their contiguity has maintained its own distinguishing features down the ages. The handicrafts items are widely marketed by Manjusha, a state Government owned emporia and other establishments as well. Some of the common items made are of masks, terracotta, dokra, rag dolls, sholapith, cane and bamboo, wood carvings, textiles.
The handicraft expo is really extraordinary. Just a few days I visited the expo and was amazed to see the workmanship of the artisans of West Bengal. Not only were there various types of art and craft, but the ideas of the artisans were brilliant. It was a perfect combination of simplicity and glamour.
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