Accepted paper:

"Tie and Dye" - Production, Consumption and Circulation of Sungudi Textiles


Kala Shreen (Centre for Creativity Heritage and Development)

Paper short abstract:

This paper critically analyzes the "Sungudi" project of World Crafts Council in the context of the dynamics of production, consumption and circulation of the ethnic crafts of Tamilnadu.

Paper long abstract:

This paper critically analyzes the project "...On the Road to Revival - Sungudi" which has been conceived by the World Crafts Council. This project will be examined in the wider context of the changing dynamics of the production, consumption and circulation of the ethnic crafts of Tamilnadu that is influenced and propelled by globalization, tourism, arts and crafts activism and so on. The Sungudi craft is positioned as representing Tamilnadu's heritage and as a fading traditional skill thereby evoking feelings of regional pride on the one hand and feelings of morality and social responsibility towards their revival/survival on the other hand which are strategically incorporated into the marketing and sale of these products. The authenticity of the Sungudi production was established during its sales by involving craftspersons from the lineage of Sungudi designing and who have hereditarily practised this skill. This project has also brought about an interface between the Sungudi designing and art education in Chennai. "Reviving Sungudi" also became instrumental in furthering the organization's goals of perpetuating traditional skills and facilitating economic betterment and empowerment of artisans. The project also sought to commercialize the Sungudi by widening its market base through exhibitions and sales in a high end fashion shopping street and networks with mainstream retailers. Thus the paper explores the Sungudi project through interlinked notions of ethnic crafts, creativity and agency in the dynamics of material production and consumption in contemporary Tamilnadu.

panel P41
Ethnic by design: creative agency, aesthetics, and community in the global marketplace