What happened to Dokra Crafts during Covid?

posted in: Art & Crafts | 0

Already reeling from financial losses, the business of these craftspeople had just begun to pick up in January this year when Covid-19 reared its head once again, compelling the government to resort to lockdown and other restrictions.

Artisan Mitali Soy said, “Around 20 craftsmen of the tribal-dominated Dudhujari village in Jajpur district used to earn their livelihood by making Dokra items. But the lockdown hit whatever little sales they had managed to achieve.”

Yet another artisan, Mayadhar Jaraka from Kansa village in Jajpur, said, “This has been the only source of our livelihood since the time of our ancestors. We can’t do anything else but this for a living.”
Dokra is one of the oldest known metal crafting techniques in the state.

“We had been helping these artisans, steeped in losses, market their products. We are waiting for the lockdown to be lifted,” Bipin Bihari Sahoo, the secretary of a social organisation called World-Act, said.

The artisans engaged in the dokra work are largely tribals from Cuttack, Jajpur Dhenkanal, Keonjhar, Angul, Mayurbhanj, Kandhamal , Rayagada, Gajapati, Kalahandi, Koraput and Sambalpur districts. They follow the traditional method of using wax for metal casting. “Many locals and tourists purchase dokra items directly from us. But the pandemic has forced them to postpone their visit to our craft stall,” Sarafat Ali, the owner of a crafts shop in Jajpur, said.

When contacted, Nigam Charan Dash, the deputy chief executive officer of the government-run Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society( ORMAS) said, “The ban on craft melas has put the fate of a large number of craftspeople in the state at stake. They usually sell their items in these fairs. In 2019-20, we sold items worth around Rs 100 crore. But last years we could sell products worth only around Rs 50 crore owing to Covid-19.”

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I am a web developer working at Just Odisha.

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