Modernization taking its toll on age old art

Written by Meghalaya Times. Posted in Front Page

Staff Reporter
SHILLONG, July 14: Modernization, besides other things has brought about the end of many beautiful artistic tools and professions amongst which is the profession of traditional quilt making which is also counting its days.
Traditional quilt making - an art of sheer patience is an age old tradition amongst the quilt makers which is passed on from generation to generation. But with time it has failed to keep up with the growing demands of the people for style and design resulting in less or no income.

Efficient hands at work, a sitar like instrument to soften and untangle the cotton, needles, thread, and cloth is all that is needed in this trade. The thick layer of cotton is laid on top of a rectangular cloth stretch on the ground which is covered with another layer of cloth of the same length and breadth and sown together by hands.
Once a thriving business especially in the colder regions where one could hear the twanging sound of the quilt bow made by the quilt makers doing the rounds in the neighborhood can now be scarcely heard which is indicative that the days of this trade are numbered.
 Nowadays instead of doing rounds of the various localities most of them work for shops that deal in quilt making and this is where they make a little income.
A worried quilt maker Abdul who was sitting outside one of the leading shops in Police Bazaar hoping to make some money by getting orders narrated the sad tale of the profession that is fading away.
“I learned the art from my father and my father learned it from his father. This has been the trend in our family but I am not sure if this will continue,” said Abdul further adding that his children are school goers and he wants them to be educated and settle for something better than quilt making.
Recalling yester years, Abdul says, “Once it was a job that provided good income, but now readymade blankets have taken over and the number of the quilt makers have decline drastically”.
Hailing mostly from outside the state, these quilt makers work only during the winter months and the rest of the year they go back to their respective villages and do farming.
“It does not generate enough income to sustain a family; I won’t teach my son the art of quilt making,” said Arshad a concerned father and an experienced quilt maker indicating that the profession is nearing its end.
The market is flooded with blankets of various colours, texture and design. The quilts although warm cannot contend with the new blankets which come cheap and in various designs. This is one of the reasons why this age old trade is facing extinction.


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