Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   | Volume 6, Issue 49, Tuesday, December 20, 2011




Reviving our HANDICRAFTS

Bangladeshi heritage has been fused into our everyday lives thanks to the numerous enterprises that promote handicrafts, keeping alive the priceless traditions of our country. While we are generally familiar to the works of the artisans brought to us by the “deshi-themed” stores around the city there are other less familiar organisations creating beautiful merchandise and that too by employing the least privileged in society. The organisations in focus are Christian sisterhoods and brotherhoods that were established with the main aim of providing destitute individuals opportunities to earn a living.

Salesian Sisters' Embroidery Centre (SSEC)
This embroidery centre was started in Dhaka in 1978 by Sister Genevieve, a French sister, as an attempt to assist poor women to earn a living instead of begging. A few years later Sister Genevieve sent a few girls to Bangalore for embroidery training. They then came back and began training the workers here, who take 6-8 months to learn the art. About 40-50 women are working at the centre currently.

The products that one can avail from SSEC include napkins, greeting cards, notebooks, table runners, cushion covers with floral and various sorts of embroidery work on them. The napkins and greeting cards are also ideal for the coming Christmas as Christmas themed ones are available. One notable product was a marvelous tapestry which depicted Rabindranath Tagore's story Shayma.

The designs for the embroidery are at times provided by the client themselves which makes it possible for you to acquire customised pieces and the rest of the designs are provided by the managing Sisters.

In order to avail their services Salesian Sisters can be contacted at 105/1- A Monipuripara, Tejgaon and one may also call Sister Elisabeth on +88029117581

The Community Centre for the Handicapped (CCH)
The Community Centre for the Handicapped was started by a Christian brotherhood 25 years ago in Mymensingh with the hope of rehabilitating handicapped men and women who are neglected and ill treated by almost all parts of the society. Their vision was to anticipate an inclusive, non-discriminatory society where there is mutual respect between disabled and non-disabled people, equal rights, access and participation in all sectors regardless of gender, race and religion.

Hence, they started their journey by establishing various clubs to help attain their goal. From that humble start they have come a long way. Now a registered NGO, CCH has 10000 people with disabilities under its umbrella of 5 clubs.

With the assistance of the renowned artist Rashid Chowdhury, CCH employed 12 women who were trained and skilled to make international quality carpets and rugs in Bangladesh, something that is a rare find in the Bangladeshi market. The carpets are very well made with designs outlined by Rashid Chowdhury. They have also started exporting the carpets to Luxemburg recently and are hoping to gain some success at that sector. CCH women's club does not have any office or outlet in Dhaka, which means that if you have to get your hands on one of these exclusive carpets you need to visit their premises in Mymensingh or visit their website at www.pccbd.org.

Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows (SOLS)
This organisation has been around for quite a long time in different countries starting from the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Africa and finally in Bangladesh. Aimed at rehabilitating unerprivileged women, this Italian organisation has been helping many women wherever they have set up.

Based in Rajshahi, Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows also produces embroidered products. Almost 70 women work under SOLS to make embroidered table clothes, bed covers, table runners, aprons etc. The designs for the embroideries are created by the Sisters themselves. Along with its embroidery centre SOLS provide schooling to around 300 children.

To take a look at their products call Mother Luisa Falsetti on 01718771873, +88028401253 or visit Carlotta Centre at Bashundhara Road#6, House#121, Block-B or mail them at luisafalsetti@yahoo.com

Loigine Sisters OSL
Another such missionary organisation called Loigine Sisters OSL has been working to help needy women in Khulna since 1975. They have 300 women employed under them who make nakshi kantha, designed handicrafts like table cloths, bed sheets, bed covers, table mats, bottle covers, napkins etc. Each of the nakshi kantha pieces are so well made that the amount of effort and detailed work that has gone on to make each of them cannot be concealed from the eyes.

Through their employment chain, the Loigine sisters have been able to send 200 children to high school and 100 children to primary school by giving their employees a chance to contribute to their family's well being. To order their products you can call them at 01731477968 (Mirpur office), 01715144639 (Khulna office), or visit them at their office premises in Khulna.

Sisters of de Foucauld
This congregation runs the Jute Handicraft Training Centre in Khulna which was started almost 30 years ago by Sister Gemma. As the name shows this organisation produces jute handicrafts ranging from bags to mats, decorative wall hangers and other products. The bags especially are available in beautiful colours and different sized and are quite chic to carry with summer dress.

Their products are a little to difficult to acquire if you are living in the city since, they are only available at Khulna. However, you can always contact them on 01711404952 or mail them at cemstj@gmail.com.

Jagorani Jute Handicrafts
Jagorani has been around since 1960 when a few sisters started to think of ways through which they could provide the impoverished a sustainable source of income. They realised that jute was plentiful in the country and can be used as the mode of helping these people. Thus, began the journey of Jagorani. Now they have around 500 workers under them.

Mainly focused on jute products Jagorani also produces leather and fabric based products all of which are exported as well. These include bamboo boxes and trays, jute plant hangers, bags, place mats, rugs and other similar items. They also have a variety of Christmas themed gift piece and decorative items.

Jagorani has a showroom opposite Holy Cross College at College Road, Tejgaon. They can also be contacted on 9114590, 01715000798 or mailed at jagorani@dhaka.net.

P.I.M.E Sisters
With 25 women from different ethnic backgrounds such as Shantal and Paharia working under them at Rajshahi, P.I.M.E Sisters started as a sewing centre but then moved on to doing international standard embroidery. They mainly focus on producing embroidered tablecloths and bedsheets. Along with providing their own designs they also take customised orders from the customers.

Get in touch with them through Sister Giamfraicca on 01727448455.

This Christmas take a look at these beautiful products; you may come across something that you love and, keeping up with the Christmas spirit, you will also be helping someone better their livelihood.

By Karishma Ameen and Afrida Mahbub
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


Gifts galore

“Let the season of giving be yours and not that of your inheritors.”
~Khalil Gibran

Gifts are fail-safe ways of conveying affection and invoking happiness in both givers and receivers. It is the transfer of something without the expectation of receiving something in return. Although gift-giving might involve an expectation of reciprocity, a gift is meant to be free.

Gift wrapping is a work of art and done well, it is meant to provide visual stimuli to the opener. There are various ways of wrapping gifts, this week we discuss a few:

Gift boxes and paper wrapping
In Bangladesh, cane baskets, jute bags or clay pots are often used as gift boxes, especially for sweets. Paper bags and cardboard boxes are also used widely, with the latter more often for gifts that are fragile or breakable. Different types of wrapping paper can be used to add exclusivity. Art paper, kraft paper and foil paper are a few categories that are available in Dhaka. Solid and pastel colours can be used to uphold a classic charm, while polka dots, stripes and psychedelic designs are for the trendier at heart.

Ribbons of light
Ribbons can be fancy and feminine accessories on gift packages. They are available in satin, lace, stripes, dots, prints, solid colours and pastel colours, leaving users spoiled for choice. Wire ribbons work best in terms of maintaining form because they stay in place without the need for tape. Ribbons can also be used for home decor to decorate window pelmets, stair railings and door cornices.

Flowers and stickers
These work as adornments to the main packaging of a gift. Dry or fresh flowers and ferns display an extra element of care taken when wrapping a gift while stickers are a great way to attract children.

They say so little and yet they convey so much. Cards can be used for all types of occasions such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries, celebrations of achievements and so on. They can also be used to indicate seating arrangements at formal dinner parties. This Christmas, adding name cards to your dinner table will go that extra mile in personalising the meal and displaying your hosting skills.

When wrapping gifts, whatever the occasion they are intended for, it is always advisable to think outside the box. Besides conventional wrapping paper, everyday items like exercise book paper, newspaper, butter paper, old paper bags and brown string can also be used to enhance creativity. Layer different materials of embossing, creasing foil stamping paper together and finish off with ribbons in complementary colours. Or conversely, stick to classic, simple themes such as maintaining the same, solid colour scheme for all your gifts.

Interior Consultant

E-mail: journeyman.interiors@gmail.com
Photo Credit: TamimSujat
Special thanks: Premium Sweets by Central


Gift wraps

The little girl stared eagerly at the flat, rectangular box with twinkling eyes as she enclosed her arms around it, which was frankly too big to hold in her tiny palms, and flopped onto the floor in the middle of the room. With her tiny, inept fingers she tried to carefully peel away the beautiful paper, wrapping the box, sprinkled with golden glitter like she had seen Tinker Bell (her favourite cartoon character) shake off so many times , but eventually ending up tearing it at places too many.

Presents, surprise presents or expected ones, are always welcome but something that adds to the beauty and mystery is what holds the presents within them --the gift wrappers. The more visually appealing and aesthetic the wrapping on the present the more prone is the receiver to unwrap it with utmost care, making sure not a single scratch falls on the paper, so that it may be used for packing somebody else's gift. The moment a pretty piece of gift wrapping comes along with the present we make it a point to store it away carefully for future use. Since relying on the gift wrappers tucked away beneath the mattress forever is not exactly feasible, going out and purchasing wrapping paper and other accessories is prudent as it takes only a little creativity and not much effort to cover gifts appealingly.

There was once a time when only the shiny wrapping papers were available with a silver side and the other side printed with flashy and at times tacky colours. That time is long gone. Now with more sophisticated and classy options all over the market it is quite easy to go crazy and creative with options.

Wrapping papers are more or less available everywhere starting from stationery shops to department stores to super shops.

Places like Aarong have a variety of wrapping papers in materials such as normal paper with various prints such as floral patterns, teddy bear cartoons and a specialty available at their outlets only -- jamdani patterns. Wrapping paper made of materials similar to tissue in different pastel colours are also found here as well as Chondon at Gulshan-1.

The Almas superstores carry the aforementioned paper ones as well as the old school shiny ones, catering to a more diverse set of people. Not to mention Hallmark and Archies and the Party Shop at Dhanmondi 27 and Gulshan Navanna Tower, where along with the wrapping paper, decorative accessories such as ribbons, glitters and premade paper stars or flowers are offered. These places also carry special paper bags made from designed papers, rendering unnecessary the trouble of wrapping the gift and instead making it possible to present the gift in nice looking covers. Ribbons of various materials such as velvet, tissue, lace etc are plenty at Aarong.

One of the many other places that you can peek into is the Ideal Stationery branches since theses were some of the first places where gift wrapping papers were available a long time back.

Once you get your hands on your favourite choice of papers and decorative accessories unleash your inner creativity and wrap on!

By Karishma Ameen


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