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Handy Crafts: Maps with a Mission

Alka Singhal

The Dastkari Haat Samiti has been creating artistic and informative craft maps of different parts of the country, which gives the information about handicrafts, and handlooms of India. These maps are an excellent source of information for craft lovers, exporters, tourists (both Indian and foreign), students of schools and colleges, travel agencies, hotels, designers and entrepreneurs. The maps are extremely handy and useful for those who wish to explore India’s rich heritage of handicrafts and handlooms. The maps are exclusive sources of information on the production, marketing and retail outlets of handicrafts and handlooms across the country.

President of the Dastkari Haat Samiti, Mrs. Jaya Jaitly was inspired by the glimpse of Mary Chandler’s maps, which informed tourists about various shopping complexes, buses and train routes of Bangkok. Mrs. Jaitly had started working on this project with the objective of promoting rural craftsmen. The Samiti has been creating illustrations of different parts of the country and intended to boost the rural craftsman’s skills by doing the same.

The first map was released in 1994. It was India’s map with Delhi on the reverse side. Satyanarain and Moti Karan in Madhubani painting (Mithila) style painted the first masterpiece. The outstanding success of the maiden venture gave rise to the demand for state-wise maps as the wealth of information regarding craft and textile availability across the country was too vast to put on one map. Subsequently the Samiti produced the maps of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. In total seven maps have been prepared so far. Mrs. Jaya Jaitly hopes that every state can be covered in this way within next 2 to 3 years, for a complete compendium of informative maps. Information is gathered through researchers who interact with artists and various related agencies in each state. The work is done by a traditional artist of the state. The maps become a reality only after a team comprising an artist, graphic designers and a computer specialist pool brains to come out with something spectacular. The colours used on the map are natural for example, haldi, kumkum etc. Beside these extracts of flowers, leaves and dung are also being used. It took around 2 to 3 months to complete a single map. The source of outline map of different states is the Survey of India, Dehradun.

Another peculiar feature of these maps is special thrust placed on the city. The Madhya Pradesh map, for instance, highlights Khajuraho, the city of temples. This treatment goes a long way to promote tourism for the state. The Orissa map was painted by using the patachitra style and colour extracted from local stones and minerals. The map of Jammu & Kashmir State, painted in colours, mostly reflects the state’s natural resources. The Gujarat map has been painted in the Rathwa Tribal style. While one side is typical of the Pithora mode of expression, the textile side produces the rich embroideries of Kutch and Saurashtra through the painters palatte. The Tamil Nadu map demonstrates the rich gilded Thanjavur style of painting and the typical haldi – kum kum colours of its textiles. This style is a combination of art and craft. Most shopping outlets mentioned on the maps are state and central government emporiums. Director General, Tourism and Ministry of External Affairs have already distributed the first map i.e. India’s map worldwide. It is being sent to all embassies and tourist offices all around the world.

These maps are an easy illustration of India and her states and can be read as a newspaper. As you unfold the map pleat by pleat, you go deeper and deeper into the land’s culture and people in general and its crafts and textiles in particular. Map after map, it is a virtual trip around the country. The Samiti’s maps are not only aesthetic delights but are high on utility. Unlike books on crafts, which end up as coffee-table items or artifacts that become wall-hangings, maps attract a wider audience and exposure. These new maps assure that map reading would be full of fun and thrill. The map got appreciation for its simplicity and illustrations across the country. The maps are available with the Dastkari Haat Samiti which is also in the possession of the original copy.

For further information, please contact Dastkari Haat Samiti,
3 Krishna Menon Marg, New Delhi – 110 001.
Ph: +91-11-3017172, 3016035 and Fax: +91-11-3793397n