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September 29, 2015

Bengal artefacts huge draw at London Design Festival

Bengal artefacts huge draw at London Design Festival

Exquisite artefacts from West Bengal with long histories such as ‘jamdani’, ‘muslin’, ‘kantha’ and ‘balaposh’ were a major draw in the London Design Festival.

The artefacts included the ‘Indo-Portuguese shawl’, which draws on a long history of colonialism in Bengal and a confluence of cultures. The seven artefacts displayed under the ‘Biswa Bangla’ initiative showcased the best of the state’s handloom and handicrafts sector.

“We got an excellent response. We tested the waters here, and received many inquiries for regular supplies. Biswa Bangla is now in the process of opening a store in Piccadilly to scale up our efforts,”, Rajiva Sinha, principal secretary of the state’s department of textiles said.

Described as an initiative that eliminates ‘middlemen’ and distributes all profits among traditional craftspersons associated with it, Biswa Bangla achieved a revenue of Rs 15 crore in its first year and is on target to achieve a revenue of Rs 25 crore with a larger pool of craftspersons.

Besides stores in West Bengal and New Delhi, it will be the first time that any state government will have such stores outside India, officials attending the London Design Festival said. Besides London, there are plans to open a store in China.

7,000 traditional craftspersons are associated with Biswa Bangla, producing 5,400 products, many of whom have long histories and were part of international trade during the colonial era. Some products are due to be displayed at the Victoria & Albert Museum next year.

The products on display included ‘patachitra’, or scrolls on which mythological or epic stories are painted in a sequence, and masks from south Dinajpur and Bankura, made from bamboo, wood and clay.