Indian handicrafts find a new market in China
February 22, 2012

After years of manufacturing Indian handicrafts dedicated to India’s myriad Gods, epics and traditions, China is waking up to the artistic value of Indian handicrafts. 

Indian handicrafts are seeing a huge market in China. “One of the very interesting developments taking place during the last few years has been the growth in exports of handicrafts from India to China,” said Ravi K. Passi, President of Indian Handicrafts and Gifts Fair (IHGF) Spring 2012, at a press conference in New Delhi. 

Handicrafts exports to China in 2008-09 were Rs. 418.33 crore and have been steadily increasing year on year. During 2010-11, handicrafts exported to China totaled Rs. 945.72 crore registering a growth of 94.07 percent within a span of three years, which is not only impressive but also indicative that Indian Handicrafts are finding a stable market in China.

During 2009-10, handicrafts exported from India to China included metal crafts, wood crafts, hand printed textiles and scarves, fashion jewellery and accessories, shawls as artware, embroidered and crocheted goods and mix of various types of handicrafts classified as mix handicrafts. While exports of zari and zari goods and hand printed textiles and scarves suffered a minor decline of 8 percent and 67 percent respectively during 2010-11 compared to 2009-10 whereas increase in metal craft products showed a phenomenal growth of 991 percent and exports of wood crafts showed a growth of 116 percent , Passi said and added that the reasons for decline in zari and zari goods and hand printed textiles and scarves are being studied for remedial actions.

Ever since China mechanized the mass production of handcrafted goods, the factory of the world has been exporting India’s culture back to her. Ganpati idols, diwali lanterns, fancy pandal decorations and even intricate paintings from the Mahabharata and typical Indian saree’s all bear the ‘Made in China’ stamp.  China whose share in the world trade of handicrafts is around 30 percent has been known in the world to be a handicrafts producing country and famous for their ethnic designs, fine raw material bases of China Clay and excellent craftsmanship. Further, manufactured at a much cheaper scale and copied en mass, China’s stamp on traditional Indian goods is still a common sight.

However, now as the Chinese consumer travels around the world more, is exposed to multiple cultures, and has an increased purchasing power, the demand for international, more exotic goods such as silk scarves, embroidered and painted wall hangings and metal artwork  have seen a high demand. Furthermore, as Chinese manufacturers scale to move up the value chain, the manufacture of handcrafted materials which still requires its finer touches to be hand-made are seeing a fall in interest. Chinese state governments which traditionally encouraged such local industries, are also finding more lucrative, less labor demanding businesses to pour their money into.

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