In Fashion Focus: Arts and Crafts in Bidar

Fashion in India is perceived differently than how it is perceived in the rest of the world. It is synonymous with clothes and textiles. However, the scenario is changing and more focus is now given to fashion accessories and footwear.

To understand how the fashion world viewed arts and crafts in Bidar, our writer Vedika Singhania, spoke to Mr. Nitin Kulkarni, Professor at NIFT, Mumbai, who spoke of the efforts taken by students of NIFT to understand Bidriware, the cultural heritage of this historic city. Below is an excerpt from the discussion.

Several initiatives have been taken by students of NIFT and NID to revive different forms of traditional craftsmanship from India and make it more popular and well-known among people.

A part of their curriculum involves “Diagnostic Study”, where they develop the local art without fiddling with the basic essence and come up with ideas to make it more viable. Further on, with the financial assistance of the authorities like MPSIDC, they train the artisans so that they can earn a better profit margin and in turn help with their cluster development and make themselves self-sustained.

Bidriware is a one such form of art from Bidar in Karnataka. Due to its intricate design and detailing, it is often termed as Art for the Royal or Black Beauty because of its lustrous black texture with silver embedding. It is considered expensive because of the labor and resources involved in the making of every single Bidriware artifact.

The application of Bidriware in making fashion accessories is limited to ornaments such as cufflinks, bangles and earrings since the craft is metal-based which makes it tough to be replicated on the garments.

An elaborate plan to bring this handicraft to the limelight will take time. However, NIFT and NID have in the past, affiliated with such craftsmen, since it is difficult to replicate the infrastructure for the development of craft. Also, because of the lucrative operations involved, the artisans, more often than not, prefer their children to take up different occupations. Oddly though, they are reluctant to teach any outsider this art because they fear losing out on their legacy and customers, resulting to this talent getting limited to very few artisans. This mentality is legit from their view point since they have a very limited reach and any further competition might eliminate them from the market.

In the past, the students of NIFT have also taken up several initiatives to boost up sales of these artifacts. One of them was to develop machines that could replicate the art form. However, they soon realized that the  outcome could deteriorate the quality of the design and the whole essence of the craft could be lost. It was during a visit to Bidar that the students discovered that  one of the raw material used in making Bidriware was only available in Bidar( which is the soil), and the main reason why it was tough to replicate the artifacts elsewhere.

Clearly, the art form remains (and will remain) very unique to Bidar. For it to reach a wider platform and audience, institutions across India must collaborate with local artisans to reach out to a more global market and replicate Bidriware in different forms and structures. Visit Bidar to find out more about their fascinating arts and crafts.

You can find details of one such project carried out by students of NIFT here.

As told to Vedika Singhania 

GoUNESCO is funded by Go Heritage Runs  an award-winning fun run series at heritage sites across the country. Our next run in Bidar is on Sunday, December 10, 2017 and all participants will received handcrafted Bidri souvenir medals. Sign up today!

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GoUNESCO is a UNESCO supported umbrella of initiatives that make heritage fun! Currently these include global travel challenges, a student program, Go Heritage Runs and 'Make Heritage Fun!' events.

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