Introduction to South Asia

Crafts today remain one of the greatest of the subcontinent’s influences over contemporary life, its traditions interacting with the demands of the modern-day. Rooted in their many millennia old civilizational links craftspeople across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka continue to respond to the social, economic, cultural and ritual needs of their societies. Though separated by political boundaries their knowledge and skill span a cultural landscape that has been bound together and shaped by shared histories.

With an inter-generational transfer of skills, of knowledge and of lore, the crafts have continued to evolve, adapting to circumstance and history, to biodiversity, to cultural needs, to geography and climate change. Their use of indigenous, ecologically viable and waste-free technologies that are respectful of the planet’s dwindling resources, continues to form the blueprint of a journey that has formulated ways of thinking and seeing that remains rooted till today.

Providing sustainable livelihoods for many millions across the eight nation’s craftspeople continue to adapt their systems of production to create products for both their local and their emerging global clientele—revealing the continuing impact of the craftsperson’s in our interconnected and interdependent world.

Manjari Narula
Vice-President, World Crafts Council – Asia Pacific, South Asia sub-region