The intricately carved bell metal artifacts, bamboo and wood products adorn a lot of home in India and abroad. Nevertheless, almost 20,000 tribal families in Chhattisgarh who made them stay mired in lower income, without a direct access to the marketplace that’s giving increasing shelf space to the figurines and wall hangings.
There is rising demand for our goods from foreign countries in addition to different areas of India, although the market is on the boom, poverty is worsening daily, said Sonu Mandwai, a 33 year-old artisan from the interior Abujhmad region of Narayanpur district in Bastar. The densely forested Abujhmad region is component of the 40,000 sq km tribal dominated Bastar area, a stronghold of Maoists.
Comprising the areas of Bijapur, Kanker, Narayanpur, Bastar and Dantewada, the Bastar area is home to approximately 20,000 artisans with conventional expertise in making top notch handicraft items at bell metal, wood, wrought iron, terracotta, bamboo, leather and out of bone and horn.
The artisans cannot good earn money from their goods as the middlemen or dealers who provide the markets buy the finished items from them at lower cost and sell it in the marketplace at a cost twenty times higher. The middlemen are particularly active in the main artisans centers of Kondagaon, Keshkal, Pharasgaon, Narayanpur and Bade Dongar.
Shyamsundar Vishwakarma, a Chhattisgarh State award winner for iron craft, said, It isn’t a lucrative business at all. People appreciate my products, but the total lack of immediate marketing channels of Bastar handicraft items at national and international marketplace keep the artisans battling to survive.
Sharda Salam, another artisan at Abujmad’s Bhutakhar village who makes 15 projects of bamboo craft, said, rising poverty is killing the Bastar artisans despite some government support.