Way back in the day, when individuality, originality & all-encompassing beauty were a prized & ‘Pulitzered’ commodity, certain measures were taken to ensure their incontrovertible uniqueness: some ridiculous, others barbaric, many justifiable. Among the most memorable examples of protecting beauty are the Hollywood starlets of old, who’s limbs of loveliness were insured by their studios for poster-girl posterity - notably, Betty Grable's legs, which were insured with Lloyds of London for a cool million in the 1940’s.
Further back in history, fierce competition, pride & privilege sent limbs flying, with legend recounting the outrageous orders of Emperor Shah Jahan (after the completion of the Taj Mahal) to have the right hands of his builders CUT CLEAR OFF!! Similar anecdotes concern Ivan the Terrible in Russia & Prague’s Astronomical Clock - where Hanuš, the clockmaker, was blinded, by order of the realm, to avoid his work ever being repeated.
Master 'pattachitra' painter at Puri,
Drawn directly with a brush
using natural colours, no outline
Truth or tall-tale, such was the passion & reverence for artistry, creativity & ingenuity, that people could not bear the thought of duplication or imitation…nay, imitation was not flattering at all…it was downright disloyal & akin to the most serious crime. Born of this age-old need to protect intellectual & artistic property, of course, comes the present day trademark, label, patent & copyright.
Master 'Iron-Man'/blacksmith, custom-making
a Rani-Designed frame
a Rani-Designed frame
But how do we patent the road-side floral-artist, the village seamstress or even the cobbler? No less artisans, who’ve often learned their skills from a Master, usually Master-Grandparent, & ply their trade, sometimes as lifelong apprentices, with the same finesse & aptitude found in the finest atelier. Where is their insurance policy? What drastic & dramatic measures do we take to preserve & value their incomparable work?
Indian gajra-making - a fine & delicate art
Marigold chains of devotion
Working since a boy, this cobbler is no shoe-in
I don’t suppose in today’s world of monotone, mediocre, morphed & maddening sameness, where fakes flog themselves flagrantly & authentic is a 'flavour' not a virtue. Where work is ‘borrowed’, ‘inspired by’, ‘taken from’, ‘copied to’ & in many, many instances pinched for the purposes of ‘CURATION’ (the modern catchphrase for the oft uncredited)…True value can scarcely be gleaned. Skill comes from devotion & dedication, artistry from feeling, sensation & observation, & discipline from respect for detail & obeisance to our teachers, forefathers/mothers & the like. Value does not come from a lauded label, gormless gimmick or transitory trend, all of which, too often, mask misappropriation. When value is lent to the imposter at the expense of quality, artisanship suffers, true meaning is lost and all is undermined.
Silt from the river-bank
Spun into solid shape
Fired into earthenware
The functional & decorative artisan depends on you - dear patron & connoisseur of beauty, the person with pennies & power to purchase - to see, respect, admire & reward his or her talent & power to create, through the fair exchange of money, supply & demand for quality products in a competitive market, increasingly dominated by inferior look-a-likes...this ensures that, while the privilege is ever yours, POWER will always remain in the palm of their hands…the hands of the talented, knowledgeable, not always upwardly mobile, & often unnoticed, expert Artisan.
Traditional hand-cut Chinese sign-board
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#All Writing & Photography by Rani.Cee
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