West Bengal is always rich in rural handloom and handicrafts but as like any other states of India, it needs good promotion. Way back in 1916, few intellectuals of Kolkata came together and took an initial initiative to preserve and promote the old arts of West Bengal. In the year 1917, Bengal Home Industries Association was formally formed. The first honorary secretary was artist Gaganendranath Tagore started the activities of the association’s by designing a scarf with the traditional mango-leaf motif. The association is still runs actively after 90 years. The first flagged off item to start the association is still makes limited editions of good bearing the first motif.
The Bengal Home Industries Association has revived some of the lost crafts and traditional wares. As rural artists of Bengal finds difficult to compete with cheap, mass-produced goods. The Association has become a boon for artists as it acts as the artisans window to the world, offering them a chance to take their goods to a wider audience through their showroom. The office bearers of the Association continue to provide honorary service to the work of the association.
There are few showrooms in Kolkata, one of the popular one is at Camac Street. They stock large variety of handicrafts and handloom of West Bengal. Apart from that it also keep few items of different states of India. The showrooms generally buy the goods directly from the artisans. Sometimes limited monetary help is provided to poorer and less skilled artisans but highly skilled artisans are provided with well remuneration. Sometimes, Association help artisans with ideas and innovation. They help rural artists with modern designing methods and technology so that they can make products in less time with a better market value.
The showrooms of Bengal Home Industries are racked with all types of attractive items. Wooden toys sit cheek by jowl with terracotta and brasswares, dokra artifacts, carpets, wall hangings, scarfs and handkerchiefs will simply spoil you for choice. Among popular gift items are terracotta figurines of Bankura horses, saris from Murshidabad and Vishnupur are popular items. Not only that you will get ample choice from Shantiketan to Darjeeling. The most exciting part is the cost of items that are pocket friendly. Most of the budding lovers from school and colleges are frequent visitors of the showroom to impress their beaus or girl.