Lockdown special: Tata Trusts' Antaran facilitates direct purchase from artisans
Rather than soliciting donations, Antaran, an initiative by Tata Trusts, urges everyone to purchase handwoven products at wholesale prices directly from the artisans they work with. In order to mitigate the hardships caused by this downturn, beautiful handlooms and weaves can be purchased and the payment can be made directly to the artisan through the portal with deliveries made at the earliest once things return to normal
The Indian handlooms industry is suffering terribly under the current countrywide lockdown, with COVID-19 hitting the weaving centre terribly. The lockdown in effect from 24 March took this particular industry by surprise and the craftsmen who are mainly self-employed, and dependent on seasonal retail sales and direct orders, are bearing the brunt of this pandemic.
“Our artisans are enterprising and resilient and we need to stand by them in these trying times. None of us has ever witnessed a situation like the ongoing one, more so our brothers and sisters in the interior of India. They do not need our charity. They need our reaffirmation in their art and craft and we can demonstrate this by continuing to purchase from them,” tells Sharda Gautam, head of craft, Tata Trusts.
Antaran focusses on hidden handloom clusters and has started with four states known for their rich cultural weaves namely Assam (Kamrup cotton and Yeri silk), Nagaland (Dimapur and Phek, backstrap loom textiles), Andhra Pradesh (Venkatgiri - fine cotton and silk weave embellished with Jamdani, Zari) and Odisha (Maniabandha weft Ikat in fine cotton, silk) and Gopalpur (weaves in Ghicha and Tussar).
Belonging to an informal economical sector, small artisans and producer groups lack access to financial assistance and cannot rely on financial institutions to tide them through such a crisis. At the same time, raw material suppliers do not give them any credit for supplies. Although the Indian government is supplying free food rations, most of the artisans, especially daily wagers are finding it extremely difficult to feed their families and cater to other emergencies. Therefore, direct purchase is the need of the hour to support artisans with much-required financial help.
Antaran team and the artisans associated with them are utilising this lockdown period to the fullest in developing new designs in the online consultation. They are sharing ideas, exchanging feedback, finalizing concepts and the artisans are showing a keen interest in developing these samples as soon as the lockdown is lifted. The artisan entrepreneurs, as addressed by the team, are being encouraged to utilise this break by turning it into an opportunity to plan and rethink a new direction and interpretation for the weaves of their clusters.
You can buy the products at www.antaranartisanconnect.