Crafted in Kathmandu

The erosion of Kathmandu Valley's unique cultural heritage has prompted many to find ways to preserve it. There is a renaissance of Newari architecture in Bhaktapur and Patan, the tourism industry has pitched in with heritage hotels and cultural sight-seeing, and the handicraft business is doing its bit.

Now, there is a unique effort to support Kathmandu's artisans and craftsmen by helping sell their products in the local and international market. 'Crafted in Kathmandu' is not just a handicraft business, its founder Rosha Chitrakar hastens to clarify.

"Our goal is to help preserve the Valley's heritage, the skills, knowledge and resourcefulness of our artisans in creating art and home d?cor objects that are good enough to be shared in the world market," says Chitrakar.

The challenge for Chitrakar's 'Crafted in Kathmandu' brand is to pay for the protection of the Valley's built, living and natural heritage by the products and services of its artisans.

Chitrakar calls this a "plus revenue" business and is focussing on selling products to three distinct markets.

The first is the local market where people need various pots, vessels, jewelry, musical instruments, chariot-building skills and monument restoration capacity. The trend is towards restoring homes to their original
and operating them as bed and breakfast pensiones in the old city.

The second is the high end Nepali market such as hotels, homes of expatriates, corporate gifts, garden sculpture, home d?cor etc. This market has the highest growth potential because of the increasing tendency of identifying with one's heritage. Tourists and expatriates also increasingly look for hotels and homes that reflect the unique history and heritage of the Kathmandu Valley.

The third is the market for exports of Kathmandu artifacts to North America, Europe and East Asia. 'Crafted in Kathmandu' has a gallery outlet in North America that tells the story of how the artisans and crafts persons of the Kathmandu valley are restoring the World Heritage City. It sells products that have been designed and crafted to meet local demands.

Chitrakar explains that an example of this three-tiered marketing strategy is a potter making clay pots for local local yogurt whose family is also making terracotta garden animal figures and also ceramic bases for table lamps for the North American market.

"This keeps artisan families fully employed all year round, increasing their quality of life and ensuring that the skills are passed down to a new generation," says Chitrakar.

Crafted in Kathmandu's exhibition runs till 15 June at Dwarika Hotel, 11AM-7PM.

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