Updated: Sep 20
In Lucknow, a city of craft, culture and history has more than .2 million Chikankari and Ari artisans barely earn less than a dollar in a day. Covid as a pandemic has changed their lives and they have lost that meagre income too. Many of them do not have means to sustain their monthly needs. With various government and individual initiatives in place at times aid fails to reach the right people or at the time of need because of many challenges.
Recently, our team has been immensely moved when we were informed by an artisan, that a widow in her locality (embroiderer of course) committed suicide as she was not able to feed her kid for 4 days. She was reluctant to ask for help, as her dignity didn't let her do it.
It lead to start of two COVID-19 Initiatives by Sangraha Karigar Atelier, Concept Apparel & Product Label, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India -- https://www.sangraha.org.in/ -- by fashion researcher Dr. Jaspal Kalra.
Support Job-Working Artisans - Sangraha ‘Mask-for-Need’: COVID-19 Initiative
"Na Main Mukhota, Na Main Nakab, Na Main Raak Se, Na Maatra Se Moko Raakh Le Pass, Moko Bant De Sansaar Mein, Main Hoon Aas Mein, Main To Tere Viswas Mein Amol Hoye Aabhar Mein, Hoye Pradan Satkar Mein, Mein To Hoon Vaade Mein, Janan ke Aadhar Mein"
"Neither I am a mask nor a veil, neither you can have for money nor price.
You may keep me or gift me to the world, I am a Hope and a Belief.
I become priceless when taken in gratitude, and when given with honour.
I am a promise, I am a means for my creator."
The Sangraha Karigar Atelier’s Sangraha Mask of Need: Covid Initiative is an endeavour to support and sustain embroiderers, as custodians of heritage craft, in Uttar Pradesh, India. Today, they are sitting at home during this global #pandemic #lockdown #covid19 times and making these need-of-the-hour utility face masks for you. It started with 500 masks and intends to expand. By embellishing each piece with their handwork, they are engaging their minds, bodies and souls to create additional income. Each mask you order will help each artisan meet his/her basic needs when they do not have regular orders or work. Your valuable contribution will surely help them grow economically in these tough times. It is a gesture of hope, goodwill and cheer. However, the masks do not come with a price tag. There is no unit price. There is no limit to what you can order. So, let us know the quantity you need, pay in multiples of INR 500 and we will send the bunch across to you as soon as possible. Order. Craft. Use. Gift. Let the cycle continue.
YOUR CALL TO ACTION: CONTRIBUTE IN MULTIPLES OF INR 500
Sangraha Karigar Atelier was founded in 2015 by Dr. Jaspal Kalra as part of his fashion studies doctoral research. It started as a project for design education of Chikankari (ancient and artisanal Indian hand embroidery) artisans, who though being highly skilled are paid a meagre amount of INR 2,000 – 3,000 (less than USD 35) per month. The primary objective was to value their excellence of craft and maintain their dignity as artisans. It slowly evolved into a brand as the women artisans who did the design appreciation training wanted to explore newer markets. Which they did with support. Now, Sangraha is a platform for co-creation, where each artisan and designer contribute in and to every stage of the design and value chain. As a result, they not only get paid 3-4 times the prevalent rates, but also given recognition in the brand’s design, sales and stories. The women artisans associated with Sangraha contribute to household earning considerably and also send their children to schools. Sangraha today employs a total of 22 out of 27 artisans who completed the design training, and another 50 artisans who job work as and when needed. Besides its ecommerce section, the brand’s products are retailed through Jaipur Modern, Collage, Artisans, and Arumaa in India.