Gulabi Meenakari craftsman, Bhadohi carpet weaver, terracotta manufacturer: For artisans from across UP, a common stage at International Trade Show

From Gulabi Meenakari craftsmen to terracotta manufacturers, artisans from across different parts of Uttar Pradesh and their work, part of the ‘One District One Product (ODOP)’ initiative, are among the many highlights of the international trade show in Greater Noida. The event is being held at India Expo Mart and Centre and will be on till September 24

According to Kunjbihari Singh, a Gulabi Meenakari craftsman and National Award winner, the art form came to India through Persia (Iran) in the 17th Century. “Meenakari is done in different ways in different cities. But it was in Benaras where ‘Gulabi’ Meenakari was invented. Its colors are formed by metal oxides such as blue from cobalt, white from titanium, green from copper, brown due to magnesium and pink due to gold. All of these colors are formed after the oxidation,” he said.

In this art form, the metal surface is coloured or decorated by attaching or fusing pieces of different mineral substances over it. Explaining the process, Singh, who is from Varanasi, said: “The first step is (creating the) design, then we put a layer of pure silver on it. The third step is engraving and the fourth is Meenakari, where we heat the object at 850 degrees Celsius. Then we paint on it.”

He further said, “I had made a chess set, which PM Narendra Modi gifted to US Vice-President Kamala Harris. I have also demonstrated this product in Geneva and in a festival in Riyadh in 2018.”

Singh said a total of 25 families are associated with him and he is training around 500 artisans. “I have been doing this since childhood. My father was in the government service, but I learnt the art from the tools my grandfather left behind…”

For carpet weaver and Jaunpur resident Mohd. Jamaal (32), the specialty of their Bhadohi carpet is that it can last up to a hundred years or more. “It is unique as it is completely hand woven… Our carpets are pieced between Rs 5,000 to Rs 5 lakh. Weaving a good quality carpet takes around a year and it demands a lot of dedication, skill and patience. The skill has been down through generations,” he said.

He further said, “Now that the government has included our product under ODOP, we get a lot of opportunities to showcase our work at different exhibitions… and meet a lot of international buyers. We get a market — the buyers contact us directly… and there is no middleman involved.”

Jamaal said he has a team of around 80 people who are involved in carpet works. “It is believed that the carpet manufacturing started in Madho Singh village of Bhadohi… my forefathers were the first to start this,” he added.

Similarly, Pannelal Prajapati (37), a terracotta manufacturer from Gorakhpur, said it is the color that makes their product unique. “The red color that you see on a terracotta product is formed by a mixture of caustic soda, soil, and mango tree bark. Then it is heated, further dried and turned into a solution. When we paint the object with the solution, it turns red… Terracotta is made from special soil found in only three places in Gorakhpur, one of them is my village, Aurangabad village,” he said.

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“I am the fifth generation in my family to do this work. Around 275 families in my village are involved in this work, this is our USP. Due to ODOP, there is a high increase in sales. We get orders and provide the product accordingly. The District Industry Centre (DIC) will refund 75% of the amount of Rs 74,340 that we paid for the stall,” he added.

Businessmen from other countries too were at the fair.

Islambek Akylbek Uulu from Kyrgyzstan said he has received offers at the trade show and will finalise the deal. “It is a very good platform. I am the director at my company ‘Nomad Soft’. I am looking for some software-related products. I have talked to many companies here and I’m hopeful I will get a good deal in the coming days. This is also a good platform to build relations between the two nations,” he said.

Abdulkadir Nura from Nigeria said, “I am looking for a product related to solar energy. It is also a place of learning for me as I got to know about the innovations that India is doing in this sector. I am participating in the show as a buyer, I have got the opportunity to meet a lot of businessmen here.”

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