Bamboo jewellery handcrafted by Odisha’s tribal women finds international buyers
Thanks to a jewellery-making training capsule organised in Rayagada, a tribal dominated district in Odisha, 150 Kondh and Saura tribe women make necklaces, cuff bracelets, earrings, rings, hairpins, waistbands and bangles out of bamboo and are earning up to Rs 25,000 a month.
Ashis Senapati 12 April 2023 1:20 PM GMT
Arati Pedenti deftly gives the finishing touches to some pieces of bamboo she holds in her hand. The 24-year-old belongs to the Kondh tribe and lives in Badachandli village in Rayagada district. In December 2022, she attended a week-long training session in making jewellery out of bamboo.
“I used to collect and sell forest produce such as mahua flowers, tendu leaves, timber and honey, for a livelihood. It was a difficult and risky job. But now I make bamboo jewellery and earn up to Rs 12,000 a month,” Pedenti told Gaon Connection. She earns that much depending on the number of crafts mela and exhibitions across the state that she can go to.
The training Pedenti attended was organised by Sparsh Foundation, a CSR initiative of JK Papers Company in Rayagada, in collaboration with Ecodarsini in Odisha’s tribal-dominated Rayagada district. Ecodarsini is a startup owned by Priyadarsini Das, and it is registered under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
Like Pedenti, Pinki Kudraka from Karlakona village also learnt bamboo jewellery making in 2021. Now the 23-year-old earns up to Rs 15,000 a month, depending on the number of exhibitions and fairs she attends.
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About 150 tribal women belonging to Kondh and Saura tribes make necklaces, cuff bracelets, earrings, rings, hairpins, waistbands and bangles out of bamboo.
“In 2021, we formed two groups [self help groups] with about 50 women. And, trained them to make bamboo jewellery that is in demand today for its beauty, sustainability and the fact that it eco-friendly and long lasting,” Priyadarsini Das, the founder of Ecodarsini, a popular brand for eco-friendly jewellery, accessories and décor, told Gaon Connection. The 46-year-old designer is based in Bhubaneswar.
Talking about the raw material for the jewellery, the designer said that being eco friendly, bamboo has become a favourite with environment-conscious consumers.
“There is a huge demand for the bamboo jewellery. The artisans splice, weave, and polish the bamboo and intertwine it with braided wire, beads, metal, glass and stones. Jewellery making is earning each of these artisans in Rayagada district around Rs 10,000 to Rs. 25,000 a month,” Das said. The finished pieces can cost anything between Rs 100 and Rs 3,000 each, she added.
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According to her, bamboo jewellery has now reached International Markets in Canada, the United States, and the EU. Recently the jewellery from Rayagada was sent to Japan.
Bamboo craft is not new. Baskets, trays, fans, etc, have been woven from it for centuries by women.
“Bamboo is available in our area, but we never thought we could earn so much from it. Priyadrashni Das did a great job to promote and market bamboo jewellery. She is the ‘Green Queen’ for us,” Nilambar Wadaka, the sarpanch of Karlakona Gram Panchayat, told Gaon Connection.
The jewellery making craft has become a source of livelihood and empowerment to the tribal women in Rayagada, and there is satisfaction amongst them as well as those who organised the training that it is an occupation that does not have a harmful impact on the environment.
“Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society has been helping the artisans by inviting them to sell bamboo jewellery in the craft melas and exhibitions across the state,” Bipin Rout, the joint chief executive officer of ORMAS, told Gaon Connection.