Money minded middle-men have always been a hazard to our country’s talent pool that is located in the deep recesses of India. Not for nothing is India known as a hub of culture, tradition and talent where millions and millions of artists struggle each day for their survival while the hefty profits are pocketed by the middle-men who buy the priceless art from these artists at a nominal price and sell them at exorbitant prices.
DoRight is an initiative by Tata Capital to help these artisans of our country who despite their hard work are being underpaid for their work and live a life of anonymity and lots of everyday struggle. This time the journey of DoRight volunteers along with Indibloggers took us to the by-lanes of a village Raghurajpur at Puri in Orissa. Raghurajpur where every family is an artist and every house is an art gallery.
According to the history of this village, several years back one Jagannath Mohapatra – initially a farmer by profession – started gaining ‘unprecedented fame’ for his traditional Orissa artwork, which inspired him to take it seriously as a profession. However, for that he needed help and that’s when he spotted an opportunity to teach some of the villagers this unique artworks. And soon enough thanks to his efforts almost entire village was practicing the traditional art of Orissa. And in an ideal world this should have brought lots of laurels, money and tourists to this village of Raghurajpur – a centre of heritage arts and crafts – but this is not an ideal world and there are loads of people who are waiting to mint money out of these less educated yet talented villagers.
So when DoRight volunteers approached this village they found that if this village could have its own website where each artist family has a profile along with their artwork then buyers can negotiate with these artists directly thus eliminating the need for a middleman. This apart, Raghurajpur is a heritage village that can be woven into a tourist map thus bringing in more footfalls to the village, which in turn will help these villagers in earning a decent living.
In addition, considering the fact that at least 10 students learn this traditional art for about two years thus becoming the next league of fine Orissa artists, these 10 students further can teach five more students thus keeping the art alive for generations to come. Some of the art forms that the families in this village practice include pattachitra, tal chitra, silk painting, stone carving, coconut painting, betel nut painting, papier mache & masks, cow dung toys and ganjappa playing cards. The motifs for these artworks are based on mythology, religion, folklore and erotica.