The Origin, History, And Development Of Indian Handicraft Industry

Indian Handicraft Industry

The art of making art supplements, everyday usage things, decorative and many other products that are made either completely by manual force or by minor use of mechanical force with the supervision of men. The production of handicrafts represents India’s culture, tradition, and the skills of Indian handicraft artists. Indian Handicraft’s industry has a great history if we go back in time. It can be traced that the Indian handicraft industry was on its boom in the pre-colonial period and saw a great decline during the British period. 

Origin & History of Indian Handicraft

The Zenith period

Before the arrival of the British Raj in India, the Handicraft industry was on it’s zenith. During the Gupta period the handcrafted ivory and metal jewelry and other products were produced in great numbers. During the Mughal period the textile industry was reaching heights. In the Mughal period hand woven silk clothes and decorative items were in great demand. Moreover, the products used by the common people were also handcrafted. There were four different categories under which the handcrafted products were produced ‘jajmani’ for village economy, ‘manjani’ for urban economy, ‘dadni’ for merchants in which they advanced cash or crops to artisans for production and ‘Karkhanas’ which only skilled artisans produced luxury products for the upper class people. At that time Handicraft was the second biggest source of employment for the people of India. 

The decline

The British government made such policies in the Indian Handicraft Industry that the artisans were highly exploited. They shifted the production from handicrafts to production for capital goods that could be sold in the international markets. As the British Raj removed most of the princes, the major customer force of the handicraft artisans went into vain as only the upper class and the royal families could purchase the luxurious handicrafts. Moreover, the prices that the Britishers paid the artisans were always 40-50% lower than the market price. With no momentary income from handicrafts most of the artisans changed their profession and adopted agriculture as an occupation to earn. This was the biggest destruction of the handicraft industry.

Rebirth after Independence 

After India got freedom from the British Raj, our economy was in a very bad state. Far from being self-reliant our country was dependent even for basic items like food crops on other countries. The main motive of our leaders was to make India a self-reliant nation. They encouraged the artisans to produce handicraft products and advised the country people to buy handicrafts instead of machine made goods. To get the handicraft back on track, banks were also advised to give low or no interest loans to the skilled artisans so that they could produce more and more goods and they could be sold in the market. 

Our government took many steps like establishment of All India Handicrafts Board in November in the year 1952, it was responsible for  finding solutions through which the Indian handicraft industry could get it’s value in the market again. In the year 1953, Crafts Museum in Delhi was opened to encourage people to look and buy the handcrafted products and give hige benefit to the economy. In the year 1958, the Handicrafts and Handloom Export Corporation of India Ltd was established to encourage more and more export to foreign countries. 


Our Indian handicraft industry has seen many ups and downs in its journey. But now as the government took so many steps to develop this industry it is said to be one of the most developing sectors. With more and more advancements in the technology of making handcrafted goods, this industry is booming again. Moreover, the demand for Indian handcrafted products amongst many countries like England, Italy, Australia, etc. is very high. And with more and more exports our handicrafts can once again be said to be number one in the world. All the credit for this goes to the policies and strategies adopted by the leaders of our nation like Jawahar Lal Nehru. 

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