Volume 2 Issue 90| September 25, 2010 |


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Cover Story
From Insight Desk

Best Craftsman Award 1417


With the practice of traditional art forms dwindling, a few crusaders are
Marching on to revive the ancient culture of craftsmanship.
With the end of the Best Craftsmanship Awards 1417, we celebrate the very pinnacle of talent our country has to offer in craftsmanship.
These people are not only artisans, but are artists in their own right,
battling the extinction of their crafts that is being effectuated
By modernization.

Ever since the liberation war, many businesses throughout Bangladesh began the promotion and sale of crafts. There appeared a need to rejuvenate the country's rich heritage of craftsmanship. In 1985, fueled by this urgency, the National Crafts Council was formed.

Behind the organization was the effort of 11 reputed individuals, including Qamrul Hasan, and their timely initiatives and hard work. The goals of this institution were to rejuvenate dwindling art forms and help nurture them by assisting master artisans with different forms of aid. The ultimate aim of the Council is to establish a strong base for craftsmen in the country while keeping in line with their social responsibilities.

In accordance with realizing these goals, the Council has been commending both the traditional and the avant garde of artisanship on a regular basis. One of these commendations is the Bangladesh National Craftsmanship Award. Every 2 years, this award is being presented to artisans who have achieved the extraordinary. Thus far, this award has been presented in 26 categories to 47 artisans. Alongside this, with BRAC's financial assistance and effort by the Shilu Abed Trust, the Shilu Abed Best Craftsmanship Award is being presented. The former Managing Director of Aarong, Shilu Abed, hosts this event on his birthday the 5th of March. For a long time, awards were given to various categories, and the event now includes a lifetime achievement commendation. Between 1998 and 2010, 41 artisans have been honoured.

This year, with the assistance of the Bengal Foundation, the National Crafts Council has embarked on a gutsy journey of achieving an immense target. The exploits of the Bengal Foundation are abounding in the circle of art and culture, and they wished to add artisanship to their concerns. The National Crafts Council welcomed this gesture. The partnership between these two organizations resulted in the 'Bangladesh National Craftsmanship Committee and Bengal Foundation Best Crafts Award 1417', which will be hosted annually from now on.

This year, the award categories were: 4 in leather, chikon kari and shade work, pattern design and instrument crafting. 19 artisans took part in the leather category, with 246 different entries. In chikon kari and shade work, 23 artisans submitted 67 works of art. The other two categories only had lifetime achievement awards based on an artisan's contribution to the art and his works during his lifetime.

Other than the awards, an important part of the ceremony is the craft fair. Such an event is rare, and artisans have come from different parts of the country to take part in this. Their participation has lifted the event to new heights. They have assisted the National Crafts Council greatly with their innovation, enthusiasm and strong work ethics.

Komol Chondro Shorkar
Instrument Craftsman

Music has captivated Komol for 64 years. His skill turns a simple bamboo into a crafted flute. In fact, not simply content with making flutes, he even plays them proficiently. Komol was born in Kumiradah village, located in Shoilokupa, Jhenidah. His family consists of 2 daughters and 2 sons. However, he regrets that he will not be able to leave behind a legacy, as none of his children are interested in his craft.

The only requirements in the making of a flute are the correct amount of holes in a certain length of bamboo. Yet in these simple steps lie many intricacies and subtleties. Komol Chondro continues making flawless flutes with mathematical precision, while people fall prey to the music created by his instruments. The smallest flute he made measures 9 inches, while the longest is a massive 36 inches.

Komol is equally proficient in the playing of the flute, an artiste contemplating the webs of music. He has dedicated his life to the creation of music. People entranced by music are dreaming of living anew, gaining the fruits of a good life. Polite regards to the artiste Komol Chondro Shorkar.

Shilpirani Bishshash
Chikon Kari Craftswoman

The fame of Dhaka's chikon kari is historical. This beautiful form of artisanship was popularised by the nawabs. However, the craft has surpassed the contemporary social bars and leaked into everyday culture. Even today, Shilpirani Bishshash displays beautiful proofs of its existence. After learning the trade from her mother, she devoted herself to the craft. Regularly producing works of art, she has been working on the trade for a quarter of a century. Shilpirani has been involved with the Kumudini Trust for 22 years.

She makes it mandatory for her to devote a lot of her time to her craft. A housewife, she takes care of the needs of her home and immediately dives into her passion. Behind the scenes, this is the very thing that keeps the running of her home smooth, and she lives a good life in Narayongonj with her husband, who is an electrician, and two children. However, this brilliant chikon kari craftswoman is far from being proud of herself. On the contrary, she is busy creating a whole new generation of followers of the art. Around 150 women have learned the trade from her.

Roton Chondro Das
Leather Craftsman

Roton has carried on the family trade of making shoes. His father Rammohon Das was his friend, philosopher and guide, and also schooled him and taught him the trade. As a result, it was not difficult for him to take up the profession. After over 3 decades, he still commands considerable respect in the field.

At present, this 54-year-old craftsman is being heralded for his adeptness with this prize. His sons have been as interested in learning the family trade as he had been as an apprentice. After a long and arduous career, he sees this as the icing on the cake. Due to problems in the family, he never had the chance to study beyond class nine, and had to join his father's business instead. He has not only been using his skills for himself, but teaching the trade in various institutions as well, enriching the prowess of many aspiring artisans. He has been bestowed with a plethora of prizes and commendations. This award is an addition to his already bulging crown of achievements.

Kartik Boshak
Pattern Craftsman

Kartik Boshak's life is reminiscent of the story of Dronarya and Ekalavya from the Mahabharat. As an apprentice, he had honed his skills from inspiration drawn from his absent master Horen Boshak. He practiced hard with absolute perseverance, determination and grit. Born in the village of Nolmudha in the Patrail Union of Tangail's Deldua upazila, he is now 65 years old. Kartik has been working relentlessly for 42 years, producing awe-inspiring new patterns for sharees. For his many patterns he has filled out even more graph sheets, to the point were his own life has started to resemble one. Still, he strives on, as energetic as ever. He is truly brilliant as a pattern designer, and a deserving recipient of the award. With a happy family consisting of 2 sons and a daughter, he experiences peace in the fact that his sons are following the family tradition. We hope he will gain many more heralds from his dream-woven patterns.

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