Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was an Indian social reformer and freedom fighter. She was the driving force behind the renaissance of Indian handicrafts, handlooms, and theatre in independent India; and for the upliftment of the socio-economic standard of Indian women by pioneering the co-operative movement. Cultural institutions like National School of Drama, Sangeet Natak Akademi, Central Cottage Industries Emporium, and the Crafts Council of India which were all initiated by her are now creating impetus in present day Indian cultural scenario.
In Sanskrit there are many meanings of pātram—a leaf;pātram—the true person to whom charity must be given;pātram—the Supreme Person;pātram—the container of nectar;pātram—candidate; at Kamala- a Crafts Council of India store, it’s an yearly feature since the past 7yrs., kicking off the festive season. This year’s theme was Reds of Earth which was the colour palette in the items displayed.
This shop is a treasure trove of quality crafts from different states of India showcasing contemporized heritage. Their activities seem so fun-filled as it enjoys the luxury of experimentation in small quantities. It’s an exciting yet tedious process to bring to the shelves new products month after month; keeping the original skill alive with a re-invented look as a NGO.
An entire year goes by, beginning with education and training of the craftsmen about the latest in designs, tools, raw material, technology, techniques etc. by the local crafts councils; eventually putting together a theme with the help of an unorganized Indian handicrafts and gifts sector. These councils are run by volunteer groups comprising mainly of women well travelled and aware of the luxury appeal. What’s worth noticing is the council’s practice to never haggle with the artisan for buying his items cheap as this trade is meant for creating a sustainable livelihood for them. Craftsmen are scouted with a criterion of an excellent skill-set, with an understanding of ingenuity and creativity. Products are sourced directly from them keeping in mind innovation in different materials and fine workmanship (many products I noticed were bio-degradable or eco-friendly).
Some of my favourites at the shop were the inlay boxes with Akshara calligraphy in Urdu done with mother of pearl using a traditional craft from Agra, but the inside was specially lined by wood by a wood craftsman in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh. Here the innovation is in the design, making it contemporary for an urban appeal. Palm leaf basketry called Chettinad Kottans, is a traditional skill done in Chettinad, Tamil Nadu, was used to produce an exciting range of baskets in bright colours and decorated with crocheted gold lace.
It might be late to attend this particular exhibition of tableware, accessories and gifts, but the pictures should entice you to visit the store atleast once a month to pick up something for your living spaces without much fuss. I’ve been a great fan of this shop since years, as traditional stuff of international standards and utilitarian value are too difficult to source and have very obviously become one of my first choices as gifting options. Follow Kamala’s activities on https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kamala-The-Craft-Store-of-Crafts-Council-of-India/215748118445888 for the latest; specially for the upcoming Diwali gifting.
Kamala New Delhi
Gallery 1, Rajiv Gandhi Handicrafts Bhawan
Baba Kharak Singh Marg, New Delhi-110001
Ph: +91-11- 65969600 / 23743321
ICCR Centre, Rabindranath Tagore Centre
Ho Chi Min Road, Kolkatta-700071
Ph: +91-33-22820763/64. +91-33-32609513