March 2004, Pakistan At first glance the group of craftsmen sitting together, intent on the work at hand would not have seemed extraordinary to anyone passing by. They looked like old friends who had been working together in the same workshop for years. In actual fact, seven traditional artisans from Pakistan and ten from India were meeting in March 2004 and collaborating to craft new prototypes of products using the combined skills of both countries for the first time since one country was divided into two in 1947. These were people from countries that had fought three wars with each other and had problems that would take a long time to resolve, But in March, 2004 at Dilli Haat, a popular crafts marketplace in New Delhi, the people of both countries came together to create a new world of their own. The name Dostkari is a combination of dosti(friendship) and Dastkari (craftsmanship
December 2004 Vietnam
The Success of Dostkari inspired the Vietnamese Embassy in New Delhi to approach Dastkari Haat Samiti to organize a similar exchange between Vietnam and India from 16th December to 31st December 2004. The Government of India cleared an allocation of 20 Lakh Rupees to cover the cost of two Indian and one Vietnamese designer and nine artisans from each country to participate in a workshop that would create prototypes fusing the skills of the crafts persons of both nations. Artisans from Vietnam and India, in Collaboration with Craft link, Hanoi and the Hanoi Trade Department of the Government of Vietnam worked for two weeks at Dilli Haat.
The graphic identity of the workshop was designed with the Lotus pond as the theme, thus the name “Lotus Links”.
December 2005, South Africa
Afri-khadi was born in January 2003 when Ms Nadia Meer and Mrs. Jaya Jaitly, president of Dastkari Haat Samiti met when Ms Meer was visiting India to explore the possibility of developing a relationship between South Africa and India in the field of handicrafts, textiles and khadi and followed up with a range of garments sewing Khadi fabrics for a fashion show involving Indian and South African design in South Africa. These were enthusiastically supported by the Indian High commission and conducted by Ukusa Designs.
As a follow up to the obvious success of Afri-khadi in South Africa, Afri-Khadi 2005 Crafts design workshop was Proposed by the Dastkari Haat Samiti to the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India and executed in December, 2005 . During its crafts Bazaar at Dilli Haat. Dastkari Haat Samiti developed new prototypes for the global market in collaboration with Ukusa designs which obtained sponsorship for their travel and design fees from the Department of economic Development, government of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, in collaboration with the Khadi Village industries and the National Institute of Design, and the Eastern Cape Government, South Africa. The name recollects that the idea of making khadi a motif of the freedom movement began in Africa.
2006, Sri Lanka
In 2006, Dastkari Haat Samiti, chose Sri Lanka as the country with which to create bonds in the field of handicraft and hand –Embellished Textiles. Persons from Dastkari Haat Samiti first travelled to Sri Lanka in January 2006 to collaborate with the crafts people of the Agro mart Foundation based in Kurunegala, sponsored by a grant from the Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles, and Govt. of India. The skills exchanged were vegetable dyed hand block printing, palm leaf; coconut woodcrafts, beadwork and sequin/metal thread embroidery.
The Dastkari Haat Samiti collaborated with the Matale Heritage Centre for Craft Design and Cultural Exchange Workshop to be held at Dilli Haat, New Delhi from 16th December, 2006 -2nd January, 2007. The Matale Heritage Centre worked directly with local crafts people who had been trained by Mrs Ena De Silva (founder of the Centre). The crafted products ranging from range of batiks and Embroideries fetch adequate orders for export. The profits from their sales are shares by the community of craft workers attached to the centre. An extremely senior and renowned artist and designer of her country, Mrs. De Silvia would bring considerable international experience to our project. We proposed the idea of naming our workshop Elephant Tales, in tune with our earlier practice of giving the project a memorable name and identity.
Since the quality and marketability of Sri Lankan batik is higher than Batik textiles of India, the Dastkari Haat Samiti concentrated on raising the level of Indian Batik which had stagnated over a period of time. In addition the Samiti invited crafts persons practicing embroidery, woodcarving and metal repose work from Sri Lanka. A jeweler also became part of the group so that jewelry in wood and metal could be created.
Then workshop brought about a feeling of deep friendship and co-operation between the craftspeople and organizers of both countries. Visitor to Dilli Haat were exposed to Sri Lankan crafts and their relationship to Indian arts.
UNDER ONE ROOF
November, 2007 Thailand
The Year 2007, observed 6o years of Diplomatic relations between Thailand and India. Thai craft people have innovative design ideas and sophistication while Indian craft people are highly skilled and tradition bound. Under AHPADA, Asean Handicraft Promotion and Development Organization, able and dedicated co-ordination a group of 8 crafts people, a designer from Chiang Mai University and a coordinator prepared themselves to come to New Delhi for two weeks at the end of November 2007.
The Office of the Development Commissioner (handicrafts) Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India gave invaluable support in term of partial grant and enabled us to hold this important workshop at Dilli Haat along with our annual crafts bazaar so that our Thai friends could see the Indian version of a craft marketplace and the vast variety of craft skills India offered. Thai food and a Thai jeweler who was also an exhibition designer and dancer added flavor to our wonderful exchange so aptly named “Under One Roof”.
The crafts covered were Embroidery, Silver craft, Basket weaving, Natural Dye, Wood with gold paint and Wood inlay.
2008 Planet Finance, Nepal
We have arranged a Workshop with 2 components. Skill development for 4 Pashmina craftspeople and a Training Module for handling aspects of the modern market which will make it easier for Nepali entrepreneurs to deal with the demands of an expanded market in Europe. We have kept 12 stalls for the Nepali SMEs to enable them to sell Nepali Pashmina, Silver Jewelry and Metal Craft under the Planet Finance SME Link Project. We have also requested FHAN and FWEAN to send interested entrepreneurs working with Lokta Paper, Carved and Painted Wood and Tanka Painting so that Dilli Haat could see the beautiful Handicrafts of Nepal.
December 2009 South Asian countries
The Dastkari Haat Samiti hosted the South Asian Women’s Network, an initiative of Jamia Millia University, to take forward a programme of partners in development called South Asian Women for Peace and Creativity. Women practicing a variety of craft skills were invited from Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh. There will be craft representatives of the Tibetan and Myanmar communities residing in India as well.
Dr ShashiTharoor, Minister of State for External Affairs, inaugurated the multi-faceted event at DilliHaat.
One resource person and two artisans from each different craft NGO of their respective countries gathered together for two weeks to create Prototypes with the intention of further developing these as products that could be marketed as SWAN products at a later stage in the evolution of SWAN.
January 2011, South Asian countries
Once again under the financial patronage of ICCR, Dastkari Haat Samiti was able to invite members of the SWAN community to have a Design Exchange between Indian artisans and the respective members. This year SWAN was represented by NGO from Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. More Prototypes were created to add to the diversity of existing products from the previous year. The ultimate goal being the creation of SWAN products that can be marketed through outlets that assist and retail Crafts in the entire South Asian region.
January 2012, African countries
18 African craftswomen and resource persons from around 6 African countries (Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda invited by Dastkari Haat Samiti to Dilli Haat for Crafts Skill Development and Natural Dye Workshop. There was a Skill Training and Exchange workshops for the African countries, by Expert craftspeople from different parts of India: The Crafts covered were Basketry, Leather, Beadwork, Embroidery, Weaving, including Capacity building in Natural Dyeing. Prominent persons in the African Craft Sector were present at the Bazaar. The Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, funded the workshop.
African crafts persons had an opportunity to learn from skilled Indian crafts persons Skills, Capacity building, Marketing was given the opportunity to showcase their crafts for Indian market feedback. The entire fortnight’s collaboration resulted in long term friendships and provided unique inputs to the crafts sector while enhancing economic well-being and diplomatic ties at the ground level.
BREAKIN BOUNDARIES, India-Pakistan Craft Training and Skill Exchange Workshop, Dilli Haat, 1-15thJanuary 2013
Breaking boundaries, conceived by the Dastkari Haat Samiti, was a positive concept to bring together ideals of friendship and cooperation within the parameters of craft and design. This was executed by a variety of embroidery skills by women from India and Pakistan. The results were in the form of marketable goods. The Samiti collaborated with Behbud Association of Pakistan. They have a very strong craft component in their development programme.
Ten women-five from India and five from Pakistan engaged in conversation about their own cultures and shared techniques in embroidery for a fortnight. Women participants broke boundaries by coming out of their own homes to travel to another country. They moved out of conservative embroidery pattern layouts to express individuality and freedom by exploring concepts of abstraction and non-standardization in design.
The sisterly spirit and camaraderie, while discovering the positive realities of each country, reinforced the learning and teaching process. The “boundaries” of misunderstanding and tensions, national borders and socio-cultural misconceptions quickly dissipated.