Traditionally crafted for a modern world

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 July, 2004, 12:00am

Combining traditional materials and crafts to produce items for modern living is the speciality of companies from India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand exhibiting at the Summer Sourcing Show.

One Tambon One Product, a Thai government organisation that promotes products from rural areas of the country, has grouped 19 companies to show their craft in the Thailand Pavilion in Hall 2.

'Tambon is the Thai word for village,' said Natiya Suchinda, a senior trade officer with Thailand's Department of Export Promotion.

'The government has a policy of helping village people design and market the products they make to develop their potential to sell and export these items.

'They make handicraft products for modern living combining local wisdom, techniques and materials with international styles.'

Items include beads made from coconut shell, boxes incorporating Thai silk, paper products made from the bark of mulberry trees, bamboo candleholders, and handbags incorporating local wickerwork techniques.

'The products are chic and unique but can be used in everyday life - they are not just for souvenirs,' Ms Suchinda said. 'The products are not from factories but are made by skilful hands and using local wisdom.

'It also shows that income and labour can be created not only in Bangkok but in every part of the country. Local people do not have to go to factories and companies in big cities to work. They can work at home and sell internationally.'

The Indian company Master Stroke Interiors will exhibit bone and horn crafts to 'promote the crafts of the country abroad', managing director Ajay Mittal said.

'We wanted to encourage traditional craftsmen who were facing a crisis because of receding patronage from the elite to enjoy renewed pride in their work and culture.'

Craftsmen working on ivory and ebony were hit badly by the worldwide ban on these and many switched to cheaper and more easily available raw material such as bone and horn from large domestic animals including cows, buffalo and camels.

'However, they had very little domestic market due to certain beliefs and religious practices,' Mr Mittal said.

'Master Stroke works very closely with these craftsmen and we channel resources into providing them with innovative and internationally accepted designs and quality parameters.

'We ensure the traditional way of manufacturing these eco-friendly items is not tampered with,' he said.

The efforts have borne fruit. Master Stroke, set up in 1992, is an established name in the international market for bone and horn photo frames and boxes.