Endangered Crafts and the Destinations Keeping Them Alive

Sai Kiran Dhanalakota, one of the youngest members practicing this art form, said visitors have increased weekly to his village because of his family and government efforts.

Cheriyal scrolls painted on traditional khadi cloth formed colorful backdrops for storytellers whose narrative occupation gradually vanished as movie theaters and televisions crept in. Known as Nakashi paintings, they use natural pigments from red stones, indigo plants, crushed seashells and soot from kerosene lamps. The artwork, based on Indian epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, can take six months to a year to complete and can be 65 feet wide.

“If I don’t continue this art form, it will die with my parents,” he said. His grandfather received an award from the president of India in 1983 for his work. Cheriyal masks, made from tamarind paste and sawdust, are used at festivals by actors to amuse the crowd.

“In terms of traditional Amish crafts, quilts are a huge draw to the area,” said the Pennsylvania Dutch County communications manager, Joel Cliff, who says nearly 9 million people come to Lancaster, Pa., annually, in large part because of the crafting traditions; there are around 22 quilting stores. “Quilting is part of the people’s imagery of Amish county.”

Dolores Yoder, who designs and now sells quilts online, says what while there’s not nearly the same demand as she saw in the 1980s and early 90s, she still sells hand-stitched quilts; some go for nearly $7,000.

A few festivals, like the Ohio Amish Country Quilt Festival, which is entering its third year, have helped raise awareness of the craft through classes, speakers, sewing sessions and trunk shows. “We had around 1,400 people in our first year, and this year the festival pulled in nearly 1,800,” said the organization’s secretary Naomi Miller, who has seen more young quilters interested in the craft.

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