Opening of Kamala, The Crafts Shop in Chennai


Event Details

  • Date:

kamala-opening

‘Why ‘Kamala’ ? 

Because it is named for the late Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, social activist, freedom fighter and most importantly, the force behind the handicrafts movement that began in the 1950s-60s, to the service of the artisan communities, offering a permanent window for high-quality crafts, in some of India’s most important markets.

The first Kamala shop was set up in Delhi in 2005. Almost immediately it became a popular shopping destination and is now a must-visit in travel guides. The equally inviting Kamala Kolkata was set up in 2008. Now, Chennai opens its first Kamala store (January 2017).

True to the discerning spirit of Kamaladevi, the store in Chennai will stock the very best of the crafts and textiles of India. Customers to the Kamala store can expect to see unusual mats, runners, coasters, trivets and serve ware, in wood, terracotta, stone, ceramic and metal; tribal art for walls, trays using folk idioms, painting on wooden boxes, marble with mother of pearl inlay, floor coverings made of the finest grass; an array of bedspreads and table cloths, using applique, block prints, ikkats and other striking weaves; wooden toys, puzzles and craft kits for children. These are in addition to a host of giftables and a collection of handcrafted and hand painted gift boxes.

A handicrafts store cannot be complete without our country’s extraordinary and vast variety of fabrics. Kamala will have handpicked sarees, stoles and blouses featuring heritage textile traditions from across India.

The emphasis is on specially designed products, developed during the course of CCI’s direct and deep interaction with artisan clusters in villages and communities across India, over the last five decades.

Pause to ask more about a craft and you will almost always get to hear a fascinating story about its origins, its makers, its form or its materials – or all at once.

Chennai people, do visit. Others, make it a must-see when you visit Chennai. Come, and keep coming back, to gift yourself a rare shopping treat.

FB1
Varanasi’s toymakers carve ingenious, brightly coloured animals out of panels of fine grained Kahema wood The flatness probably inspired the craftsperson to create a jigsaw puzzle. Watch the elephant come apart and be put together -- the challenge could be more than child’s play.
FB12
Traditional metalcraft artisans fashion these from clay models. Nonetheless, probably because they live near a metropolis, these craftsmen are ever responsive to changing times and tastes. The light slanting off the gleaming diyas, salvers and whimsical flowers might well illuminate a corner, without your ever lighting a lamp.
FB15
Cutwork or ‘khatwa’, traditionally done by women, has reverse appliqué in which a layer of cloth is applied to a second cloth below. The top layer has tiny incisions where the cloth is folded very fine and stitched down, revealing the pattern in the base cloth. Formerly depicting figurative and geometric motifs, today ‘khatwa’ explores forms, stories and themes centred on social issues.
FB11
The ‘patuas’ or scroll makers of West Bengal are professional painters. Drawn from both Muslim and Hindu communities they create patachitras with storytelling themes. The artists double as itinerant singers whose narratives accompany the unfolding of the ‘pats’, as they travel in the countryside.
FB3
This smart rooster has been carved by slicing a piece of fine grained Kahema wood, by a Varanasi woodcraft artisan. The painting, in all likelihood, was then outsourced to the wife of a potter friend: a good example of community partnership.The handsome bird can also ingeniously walk that ramp, step by elegant step.
FB5
Philkuwa hand blocks are part of the textile printing tradition of Uttar Pradesh. Here the inventive artisan has used blocks to crate frames and handles for hand mirrors, recalling an age where aesthetics defined even utilitarian objects.
FB13
This tribal art underlines the symbiotic relationship in nature between birds, animals and plant life. Characteristic of Gond technique are fine stripes and stippled dots, as are drenched primary colours. However, the innovative artist here has chosen a more urbane black-crimson-ivory palette.
FB6
Agra bursts with creativity. ‘Jaali’ or lattice work on wood, stone and marble, was originally used in Indo Islamic architecture to create cool, delicate, light-shedding screens. Here the craftsman has turned his skill at filigree to an inspired black stone saucer set off with a pristine white porcelain cup.
FB2
‘Jaali’ or fretwork is a Mughal legacy to Uttar Pradesh. The artisans once carved blocks of ebony for fine lace-like tracery. Today they use the more easily available sheesham wood, with equally exquisite results.
FB7
Madhubani is a heritage folk art form, done by village women of the Mithila district in Bihar. The closely packed designs were originally painted as ritual expressions of mythological tales on the walls of homes. Here is a quirky modern adaptation on a stack of steel. Take your pick.
FB8
The great Mughals brought marble carving, sculpting, fretwork and inlay with precious stones to Agra. The most glorious example of these skills is of course the Taj Mahal. Descendants of artisans originally trained by Persian marble-craft experts carry on the tradition. The inlay work is so smooth that it is indistinguishable from the marble to the touch.
FB4
Fine ‘korai’ grass grown on the banks of Tamarabarani river, is cut, drenched in water, split and woven into fine quality mats as smooth as ‘pattu’ or silk. They are created by Muslim women in Pattamadai who originally made them, against orders, as ritual mats for high caste Hindu bridal couples. An exquisitely woven ‘pattu pai’ was India’s wedding gift to Queen Elizabeth in 1952.
FB14
No tools are employed in this craft except for the use of sandpaper for a final polish. Characteristic Madhubani geometric motifs enhance the rustic charm of the craft.
FB9
Unique to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh are tiny wooden birds, animals and toys. Originally working with ivory, the craftsman now uses fine-grained Kahema wood which allows him to carve with equal intricacy. Notice the details on the truck, including the driver in his seat.
FB10
Curving floral motifs of Kalamkari, noted for its laborious, many-stages process, from Kalahasti in Andhra Pradesh, brightly coloured Madhubani painted designs done by women of the Mithila region of Bihar, palm leaf sewing, etching and engraving from Odisha and brightly coloured birds typical of the Gond art of Madhya Pradesh speak of the richness of tribal art in India.