ndia, known to all as the land of rich heritage and prominent history, also happens to be a utopia for handicraft lovers. In this land of diversity and culture, even modern-day habits borrow from the timeless old ways to give way to practices that are deeply rooted in tradition. Which is why we see tenacious use of age-old techniques in craft, that leads to preservation of legacy as well as inculcation of a uniquely Indian identity.
Along with long-established methods, the use of natural and conventional materials is also promoted. Annapoorna leaves (screw-pine leaves), coconut fibre, banana midrib, rattan, bamboo, stone, natural fibre, clay, are some of the many naturally available resources that are used widely in the Indian handicrafts industry.
Perhaps amongst the most intriguing of the lot is banana craft. Believed to have over 1000 types, the uses of the banana plant are aplenty. Its cultivation is a very lucrative agricultural business in India where it accommodates 37% of the total fruit production. In fact, in 2021 alone, the production of this potassium rich fruit had a volume of around 33 million metric tons!
Unsurprisingly, India ranks no.1 in banana production globally, accounting for 26.08% of total world banana production. Over the course of decades and centuries, the Indian artisanal community has devised creative, inimitable, and diverse ways of utilizing the banana plant, colloquially known as the banana tree.
Nearly all parts of the banana plant, from the trunk to the fruit, are useful in one way or another. Its super strong fibres are utilized to make textile items, lamps, baskets, carpets, mats, frames, paper, décor items, bags and much more!
Chronicled below is one such journey of incredible banana barks, from the farmlands to the workshops and eventually into homes.
(Video courtesy: Qalara sellers)