Volume 2 Issue 76| February 13, 2010 |


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The Shilu Abed Master
Craftsperson Award

Mahjabeen Khan

Bangladesh is known for its rich heritage in the field of arts and crafts. For centuries, artisans have been diligently creating exquisite crafts and textiles and passing them on to their following generations. True to their nature, these artisans have been toiling away for a living and simultaneously safeguarding the continuity of the traditional crafts all over Bangladesh. In return, they seek no recognition or accolades for their creative and diverse contributions.

The National Crafts Council of Bangladesh (NCCB) was set up in 1985 as an apex body with a multi-disciplinary membership of crafts persons, researchers, designers as well as crafts development and marketing organizations. Crafts are not simply decorative articles but utilitarian objects for everyday use, central to the lives of people, particularly in rural Bangladesh. It is important to note that after agriculture, craft production employs the highest number of people, both women and men, across Bangladesh.

NCCB has been playing a crucial role in the development and promotion of crafts through a series of support services. These include regular exhibitions, of products and artisans at work, as well as an annual award for a “Master Craftsperson”. These events have created a greater appreciation and demand for crafts across the country. The council has organized a number of major exhibitions in collaboration with international organizations abroad. NCCB is a National Entity of the World Crafts Council (WCC).

In recognition of Shilu Abed's work with crafts development BRAC had instituted the Shilu Abed Memorial Trust in 1997, soon followed by the Shilu Abed Crafts Award, comprising of one lac taka in cash and a crest. Sponsored by BRAC and collaborated by the National Crafts Council of Bangladesh (NCCB), every year on the 5th March, Shilu Abed's birthday, this award is given to a craftsperson selected by a distinguished jury in a ceremony open to the public.

Since 1998, a total of forty craftspeople have received the award in eleven categories: 1.Research and publishing, 2.Nakshikantha, 3.Terracotta, 4.Indigenous textile, 5.Cane and bamboo, 6.Tangail saree, 7.Metal craft, 8.Jewellery, 9.Jamdani, 10.Embroidery, and 11.Woodcraft.

However, from 2010, the Trust has taken the decision to give the Master Craftsperson Lifetime Achievement Award to one person, in his/her respective field. .

Those who are interested in applying for the Shilu Abed Master Craftsperson Lifetime Achievement Award must meet the following eligibility criteria:

1. Minimum age must be 60
2. Product must be of excellent quality
3. Product must be traditional and hereditary (craftsmanship handed down from generation to generation)
4. Product must be creative and innovative
5. Applicant must have the ability to be a mentor and be able to teach others
6. Product must be made from eco-friendly materials
Applicants must send their name, age, address, a passport-size photo, contact number, mobile number along with the product for the competition to:

“Probortona” 2/8 Sir Syed Rd. Dhaka 1207

Or “Aranya” 60 Kemal Ataturk Rd. Banani Dhaka 1000

The last date of entry is 20 February 2010

Readers are requested to assist NCCB in finding deserving craftspeople and in encouraging them to participate in the competition.

Mahjabeen Khan is a freelance writer and Vice President of NCCB

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