BY: Samreen Zahra

Virsa: The Contemporary Value Chain


"Handicraft" means a useful or decorative object made by a craftsman who has direct control over all stages of production. Handicrafts have always had a greater value, an identity of their own that is reflective of their place, culture and materials, as well as a sense of belonging to a particular place and time. With the ever-growing mass production that followed the Industrial Revolution, we lost those crafts to multiple reasons: one being cheaper, industrial-made products reducing the demand for handicrafts, and another being a shift in consumer tastes. Most craftspeople hardly earn enough to survive and fulfill their basic needs, and naturally seek greater economic stability. In hopes of making a better future for their children, they send them to schools to gain knowledge that could help them gain employment and be able to make better livings for themselves and their families, halting the passing of knowledge. Hence, the heritage of skills that had been passed for generations in a family comes to end. This risks the loss of a craft that once was a source of pride and joy for these artisans – and for the larger community

There are a number of efforts going on around the globe to preserve the indigenous crafts of different cultures, and to allow that knowledge to be passed down to new generations. My focus in this paper is a specific object (the charpai) from the Jandi craft, and its preservation through innovation. My work seeks to advance and preserve the skills and traditions of the artisans, while designing a new set of products inspired by the craft that hope to reconnect more artisans to the craft and empower them in terms of knowledge and finance.

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