Title: The Infinite Rejuvenation of India’s Crafts
Speaker: Jaya Jaitly
About the Session
In an inspirational and insightful talk, Jaya Jaitly discussed how her travels made her develop an interest in Indian crafts, and how this interest transformed itself into advocacy. Growing up in Japan, a highly industrialized nation which was once known for its highly developed sense of art and aesthetics, Jaitly was motivated to ponder upon the condition of crafts in India. She has worked for the revival, documentation and preservation of Indian crafts for over 40 years.
Jaya Jaitly has founded an association of craftsmen called the Dastkari Haat Samiti, created a crafts marketplace called the Dilli Haat in Delhi, and is currently working to bring together craftsmen of different countries.
As Jaitly pointed out, India is a culturally rich and diverse nation where numerous crafts are available at our fingertips; however, most of these traditions fail to be acknowledged. Her talk highlighted how the failure to recognize and appreciate the skill and talent of Indian craftsmen lies at the heart of the gradual loss of our cultural identity. She discussed how her work has aimed to uplift the conditions of these craftsmen, and provide them with a space and platform for their skills to blossom. The culture of crafts is not simply the identity of the craftsmen, she declared, but also the identity of our nation, and hence, we must all strive to protect it. She also spoke about several other projects she is working on, such as the Crafts Academy and the Crafts Atlas of India.