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Maker And Meaning: Craft And Society, Revisited (Proceedings of the Seminar January 2019, DakshinaChitra Museum, Chennai, Tamil Nadu)

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Item Code: UBD645
Publisher: Madras Craft Foundation, Chennai
Language: English
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9788195264902
Other Details 9.50 X 7.00 inch
Weight 550 gm
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Book Description


Stephen Inglis

Participants in the Maker and Meaning seminar in January 2019 revisited themes and issues raised twenty years ago in a seminar at Dakshinachitra and described some of the changes over the two decades since. Their devotion to this sector of society and its contributions to the character of India remain undiminished and the mutual respect of those documenting and encouraging the traditional skills of one of the world's great civilizations was evident.

We offer here presentations made at the seminar, most in their original form rather than edited. This respects the diverse styles and directions taken by various contributors in their own practices.

In addition to the previous participants who also attended this seminar, a significant number of craftspeople, young scholars and students also joined the group, something which offers hope for the continuation of the study of makers. Among the developments and changes that were described by participants was the inevitable preoccupation in the search for new markets. Whereas many makers, even just a few generations ago, worked mainly for their neighbors and communities, today a broader market both at home and abroad among upper middle class consumers is more realistic. Objects that were once part of daily life or annual festival celebration are now also a part of decoration and display, representing tradition, rather than playing an active part in its enactment. Simultaneously, the domestic markets for India's hand-made production, for example in textiles, has subsided after millennia.


The seminar: Maker and Meaning: Craft and Society, Revisited, in January 2019, brought together scholars of craft who had done and continued to do a great deal of fieldwork with crafts groups. The seminar's objective was to look at what changes have taken place with the craft that they had studied over the last 20 years, both in techniques of production, in design and in marketing. Interviews with craftsmen to ascertain their feelings about their craft and its future were also part of the program. The seminar was preceded in the fall by three separate workshops for craftspeople. The results of those workshops are appended.

The seminar raised basic questions. One main question was whether the same incentives and approach should be given to craft with the potential for unusual excellence as for craft which would be low cost, mass produced and sold as souvenirs? Every presenter agreed that excellence in craft is not suited for and cannot be a mass produced article. Large orders strip the craft of its quality, no matter what the craft. Master craftsmen should be honoured for their exceptional abilities, and marketing of their products should command high prices as luxury products of excellence.

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