Challenges Faced by Artisans in Nepal
For a culturally-rich nation like Nepal, preserving the handicrafts and Artisans in Nepal has become more than crucial. Sadly, Nepal is going through economic crises like money inflation. Among the masses who suffered money inflation in Nepal, Artisans, from the creative fields, are the most affected ones.
What do Artisans in Nepal actually contribute? Are they crucial for the nation? But?
We have covered all the answers in our blog. Let’s get started!!!
Who are Artisans?
An Artisan or a craft worker is someone who is skilled and hence creates objects partly or entirely by hand. Artisans are also called craftsmen, handicraftsmen, smiths, artificers. Artisans work to create functional furniture settings, ornamental art, sculpture, apparel, household goods, tools, and machinery. Even though handicrafts and artisanal items are manufactured by hand, there is still a distinction. Handcraft can be learned or self-taught, whereas craftsmen use creative abilities passed down from their communities to make things.
What makes Artisans and Handicraft in Nepal unique?
Metal statues, traditional jewelry making, wood carving, religious and ritual objects like bells, vajra, stone sculpture, painting, ceramics, handmade paper, hand knitwear, Vajra products are some traditional Nepalese handicrafts. In fact, every handcrafted item in Nepal is unique. Traditional handicrafts of Nepal are different from the rest of the world. You can stumble upon beautiful pieces of wood-carved art in all the Durbar Palaces in Kathmandu Valley. Talking about wood crafts, traditional wood carving skills are engraved in medieval texts and preserved carefully.
Artisans in Nepal make their products using special skills and very minimal use of machines. Each product has drastically unique qualities while representing its history, culture, and legacy. Moreover, these handicrafts pass the ethnic values and the closeness of people with nature.
All in all, handicrafts and artisans in Nepal contribute to aid in the preservation of Nepal’s history and culture, which in turn helps to alleviate poverty and promote cultural richness.
As a collectivistic society, parents in Nepal do not live alone; they are supposed to live with their youngest son/s. Furthermore, a family with a handicraft business or artistic value inspires their child/children to become an artisan and develop that unique touch. Sadly, young artisans in Nepal don’t have expertise like old masters/experts who neither used nails nor glue to create their works.
Evolution of Artisans in Nepal
The evolution of Nepalese handicrafts is difficult to pinpoint. However, it may be traced all the way back to Stone Age times. The history of creative handicrafts dates back to the 5th century. Most Nepalese handicrafts come from religious and ethnic grounds. Most importantly, handicrafts production in Nepal is believed to grow exponentially during the Lichchhavi period. The Lichchhavi period was called a golden era for art and artisans in Nepal. In addition, the Malla era of the period favored handicrafts. Later in the Newar community, Suwal, Desar, Rajbahak, Kumhal, Prajapati, Kumah, Awale, Awal, Shilpakar, Kami, Pahar were considered the handicraft artists. These craftsmen were specially hired by kings and their men to craft their temples and their special rooms/Kashya. In fact, UNESCO has designated the stone, timber and bronze craftsmanship of the Newars as among the most highly skilled ones in the world.
AfterLichchhavi period numerous natural disasters took place; legends lived and died, but their craftsmanship lived forever. However, on April 25, when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the nation, the country didn’t just lose its citizens but also lost its proudly-standing monuments. Thus, highly skilled artisans in Nepal were needed to restore the beauty of those monuments that carry Nepal’s cultural identity; the broken temples, palaces, buildings of cultural importance, and other affected handicrafts were examined and reconstructed. Artisans in Nepal did their best to ensure the restoration of Nepal’s unique and significant properties in the monument.
While doing the reconstruction and renovation of monuments, it was found that the abandonment rate of craftsman skills had increased. It was all because of the new generation, who desires to earn more cash than earning skills and preserving culture. And those who hold the courage to continue the legacy and become valuable artisans in Nepal face disappointment as craftsmen are called workers rather than artists. This ultimately makes them feel bitter and just abandon the skill which doesn’t bring them a fortune.
Challenges Faced By Artisans in Nepal
Major Challenges faced by Artisans in Nepal revolves around the government, local people/consumer, and family of the craftsmanship. In fact, these challenges faced by artisans in Nepal are more than one. Starting off, with the availability of cheap alternatives, like plastic products for clay-made products, the handicrafts industry in Nepal is presently facing issues. While it’s about alternatives, the more fearful condition is that original works of artisans in Nepal get copied; hence they refuse to create the old as well as new patterns. And all these conditions -availability of duplicate and cheaper products- massively devalues the craftsmanship skill. In addition, artisans in Nepal are challenged to break through the psychology of consumers- Buying Cheaper Products.
Another problem is that people try to find the similarity with other famous products in the world. For example, IKEA is the world’s leading ready-to-assemble furniture manufacturer, and to expect a similar professional level from local artisans can be pretty overwhelming. Local craftsmen may put their efforts but may not bring similar results. So, imposing unrealistic expectations on craftsmen to copy international brands is just not a good idea. This also motivates craftsmen to look for similar-looking products rather than working on authentic Nepali crafts.
Another challenge is the decreasing rate of passing down the skills to the new generation. Due to the growing modern family style, artisans’ families are indirectly inspired to abandon their craftsmanship skills. Also, it is seen that strong promotional activities of Nepalese handicraft products in the national and international markets appear less. Along with that, revival programs among the descendants of craftsmen are also not satisfying figures. Another challenge is Nepal government’s effort is not actively seen; there is a lack of special policies/programs suitable for the development of handicrafts in Nepali.
Efforts of Nepal Government to end such challenges
The handicraft industry of Nepal contributes around Rs 20 billion to the national economy annually. But due to the COVID pandemic, Nepal has not been able to export handicraft products as expected. This particular thing impacted the lives of people directly or indirectly involved with artisans. Thus to reduce this kind of results, the government is making efforts to promote Nepales handicrafts.
Adding more, an organization called the Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal (FHAN) is present in Nepal. Furthermore, FHAN strives to bring and implement the handicraft development policy to develop the patriotic yet practical concepts of Make in Nepal and Made in Nepal. Furthermore, FHAN also facilitates forming a strong network of handicraft companies and artisans in Nepal.
What can we do from our level?
If handicrafts or artisans of Nepal are social media, then you can follow their social media platform. You can also share or comment on their new posts. Another thing you can do is visit their art, craft, and music festivals. These festivals can be hosted by handicrafts or maybe under the cooperation of other organizations. If you like their product, then you can buy them and show your appreciation.
What do Yuna Handicrafts do for Artisans in Nepal?
Yuna Handicrafts sells handcrafted goods of supreme quality and ethically crafted. All of the items at Yuna Handicrafts are created by Nepalese craftsmen who are skilled and committed. We also provide a work environment where craftspeople can succeed and positively impact their lives. We are conserving Nepal’s indigenous people’s creative history via our efforts. In addition, the firm seeks to promote works of artisans in Nepal.