Saturday, July 19, 2008

Handmade in India: Book Launch in New Delhi

Handmade in India
Edited by Aditi Ranjan and M.P. Ranjan
Book design by Ms. Zenobia Zamindar and Girish Arora.
576 pages, 3500 colour photographs and 140 maps, 9.5 x 13.5” (240 x 340 mm)
End matter includes a Technical Glossary, Annotated Bibliography, Craft Categories, an Index and also a detailed Acknowledgement and Credits.
Co-published in association with COHANDS and Development Commissioner of Handicrafts, Government of India, the book is produced by Mapin.

Image: Front and back cover of the new book and one sample page from the Rajasthan section dealing with the Ajmer metacluster. The book is to be released for the public on the 21st of July 2008 at a brief function at the Rajiv Gandhi Handicrafts Bhavan on Baba Kharakh Singh Marg, New Delhi by , Shri Shankarsinh Vaghela, Honorable Minister of Textiles, Government of India. The book is distributed by Mapin and will be widely available in bookstores in India and overseas.

Handmade in India, An encyclopedia of the crafts of India is a tribute to the Indian craftsperson and is organized by the geographical distribution of the crafts across all states and regions of the country. The Indian craftsperson has demonstrated an uncanny understanding of materials which is combined with a mastery of the tools, techniques and processes that have evolved over the centuries through social and cultural interactions, a tribute to the creative design abilities of the village society. The Eames India Report talks about a search for the values that is uniquely Indian and it is here that the study of Indian crafts will help inform current and future actions in the continuous evolution of the economy and the form that it takes in shaping the culture of the land. Today this craft continuum constitutes an enormous resource that can be harnessed for the future development of our society, particularly as the backbone of a creative economy that is enabled by the embedded knowledge in the traditional wisdom of the sector as well as the digital technologies that help connect this ancient skill to new and future opportunities for the craftspersons across India. We will need to make this enormous knowledge base accessible to planners, business and the rural and urban craftsmen as well as connect these to new local and global opportunities for these skills and resources to be reinterpreted in imaginative ways.

Image: Sample pages from the Rajasthan section. Each section has a master State page which is followed by the Meta-cluster pages and in each of these are the Crafts pages. Shown above are the State double page spread (top left), the Jaipur meta-cluster spread and the Blue Pottery craft (top right), the Ajmer metacluster spread with the crafts of Phad painting and Miniature painting on wood (bottom left) and finally the double spread that includes the crafts of Mojari making, handmade paper, felt products and the Bahi – the clothbound book crafts of Rajasthan.

These examples, we believe are some of the foundations of the creative economy of the future in a web enabled world and easy access in both directions which promises to link the craftsmen to new markets across the world. For this scenario to happen there are several steps involved and the book will be the first in offering insights and data on this vast resource as well as be a vehicle that can provide a platform and a structure to enhance this knowledge. Using the new digital networks and tools of access and interaction that it provides, this knowledge can be put to good use provided the required investments are made in infrastructure and training to realize this inherent potential. It is our intention that the information as well as the framework of situated keywords provided in this book will help all concerned with the promotion, development and use of the crafts of India and that they would be empowered to build a sustainable network of live information. This we believe will help our craftsmen re-connect with world markets, just as they had been doing for centuries in their own village and in their trade route networks of the past, and now the world can be their new village economy, if they are enabled and empowered to change, to meet these new circumstances with access to information that is both live and relevant.

Image: Two models that were prepared in the early 90’s to capture the scope and intentions for the promotion of the crafts sector in Rajasthan and across the rest of India which led to the setting up of the IICD, Jaipur. We were asked to imagine and envision the format and scope of the new Institute for Crafts in Jaipur and today this is an active centre for the creation of change agents hwo are capable of working in the transformation of the crafts sector in India. We will need more such initiatives in the future in India.

“Handmade in India”, is the first of three books, in the series Crafts of India, that are planned. It provides a geographic organization of craft distributed across the length and breadth of the country and shows how craft permeates even the remotest corner of India. It is a confirmation of more that 40 years of effort by faculty and students of the National Institute of Design who have sustained their interest in the crafts of India as a design and development resource for the country when few other organizations showed real interest in what was seen as a glory of the past. That it is a living resource as well as a resource for the future is something that we would strongly advocate and call for sustained investments from both government and industry to ensure its continuity. The realization that it can steer the creative economy for the benefit of an estimated six million crafts persons is a real possibility. These craftspersons have kept this knowledge alive in a tacit living form through their actions and traditional methods of transmission which we are now trying to capture in an explicit format between the covers of a book.

Image: A small collection of colourful toys from a variety of materials by Indian craftsmen from many locations that are featured in the book.

We have had thinkers from the past comparing the crafts of India with the oceans of the world, vast and impossible to put into a bottle of any kind. We are very aware that it is only the whole earth and its gravity that can act as an adequate container for the oceans and water bodies of our planet’s ecology. Our crafts traditions and practices can be compared to this vast ocean and it is only the tips of the ice-berg that are visible in the book and we hope that the web and the digital networks that are built in the subsequent phases can support and play the role of making the rest of the hidden volume visible and accessible in the days ahead. It is a pleasure to see the realization of a dream and the fructification of the efforts of several generations of NID designers as well as a large team of contributors who have made this book possible. With sustained support from our sponsors The Development Commissioner of Handicrafts, Government of India, the COHANDS, and the expertise of Mapin Publishers as well the members of our Institute, the National Institute of Design this product is a reality today. They have provided us the opportunity of producing this work and we look forward to an active period of cooperation in taking this forward to the next stages through books two, three and beyond on the web as a major portal for the Handicrafts of India.

Aditi Ranjan & M P Ranjan
Editors: Handmade in India
National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India
19 July 2008

For further information contact:

The Council of Handicraft Development Corporations (COHANDS), New Delhi.
Email: cohands4 (at)

The Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Government of India, Ministry of Textiles, R K Puram, New Delhi
Email: dchejs (at)

National Institute of Design, Paldi, Ahmedabad 380007, Gujarat
Email: outreach (at)

Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd, Usmanpura, Ahmedabad 380014
Email: mapin (at)


  1. Hi aditi, ranjan,
    I am one of the many who are keenly awaiting the release of this book. Am not going to settle for anything less than an autographed copy. Can't wait to get my hands on it. My complements to the entire team, Girish and Zenobia for making this happen.
    Warm regards
    Rahul Ajmera

  2. Congratulations! Aditi and Ranjan. Waiting to have the epic at our RnD campus. It was exciting even to be minuscule part of this initiative. Hoping to get a chance to be involved in volume 2.

  3. Dear Aditi & Rajan

    Congratulations to both of you and the entire team on taking this mammoth task of documenting and compiling the various crafts in different parts of the country. I've had the pleasure of viewing a pre-release copy of the book and I must say that the depth and quality of the work clearly stands out. This is one treasure of a book I'd love to own.

  4. Congratulations to everyone in the team for this remarkable effort.I can't wait to have a look. is it available in delhi shops yet?
    Also I was wondering whether this book includes any section on handlooms as well?


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