One part of being a conscious consumer is thinking about who makes the products we use in our daily life. This isn’t always easy to find out, and not all goods are part of a straightforward or ethical supply chain. But as transparency and social consciousness become a greater priority, businesses are starting to share who exactly is behind their production. At Mianzi, we pride ourselves on reviving the extinct-ing skills of yesteryears with the dexterity of technology in an ethical, planet-friendly way.
Who is an artisan?
An artisan is someone that works with their hands to create unique, functional, and/or decorative items using traditional techniques. Artisans are masters of their craft and create products such as clothes, toys, tools, decor, lighting, or furnishings. These artisanal techniques are learned through decades of tribal knowledge and passed down within families and communities, from grandfathers of grandfathers of grandfathers. These artisans depend on resources from their nearby surroundings to create these items as they use natural resources to make their products.
How do artisans learn their craft?
Artisans learn from their families and community. Starting as children, they are taught and passed down techniques, skills, and secrets from one generation to another. Since these artisan techniques are ever-present in the lifestyle of these communities – they have a great cultural meaning for artisans. Creating something by hand can be seen as a way to supplement income for families, but it is also a way to communicate culture and heritage.
What are artisanal products?
Artisanal products are the products that are produced by artisans, either completely by hand or with the help of hand tools or even mechanical means, as long as the direct manual contribution of the artisan remains the most substantial component of the finished product. The special nature of artisanal products derives from their distinctive features, which can be utilitarian, aesthetic, artistic, creative, culturally attached, decorative, functional, traditional, religiously and socially symbolic, and significant. Artisanal products don’t just preserve nature, they preserve centuries of cultural heritage that would otherwise be lost. These pieces are living history—created by generations of families taking the time to refine their craft.
What’s the difference between an artisanal product and a handicraft?
Artisanal Products differ considerably from handicrafts. The similarities lie in that handicrafts and artisanal products can both be made by hand and of the same materials. However, artisans possess skills passed down from generations within their communities and create products that uphold their tradition and are expressions of their culture.
Handicraft is a skilled activity in which something is made in a traditional way with the hands rather than being produced by machines in a factory, or an object made by such an activity. It can be self-taught or learned in a school. Handicrafts though are made by hands but not essentially made by artisans. They may or may not carry any cultural importance or perseverance of craft.
Are all artisans women?
Across the globe, there are millions of artisans creating products that represent so many distinct yet beautiful traditions. Each artisan communities' experience is unique to its own. Though women play an important role in most of the tribal communities and their craft, all artisans are not essentially women. Gender doesn't play any role in the determination of artisans and their craft.
What is an artisanal technique?
It is the process in which raw materials are transformed into artistic pieces. It is in these processes where the cultural heritage is more tangible as its manifestations show us how each community transforms its resources into utilitarian, aesthetic, and symbolic objects. Some artisans keep “trade secrets” that aren’t revealed to people outside their communities. The artisanal techniques are considered the most tangible manifestations of the immaterial cultural heritage.
Here are some of the beautiful artisanal products by Mianzi, hand-designed by small tribes in different regions of rural India. More than 50% of these artisans are women. All these products are made from natural fibers like bamboo and are thus eco-friendly. They carry a kind of perfection that you would not find anywhere else.
1. https://someonesomewhere.com/pages/artisan-definition 2. Wikipedia 3. UNESCO and International Trade Centre (ITC), Final report of the International Symposium on Crafts and the International Market: Trade and Customs Codification, 1997.