Ladakh has been a land of distinct and unique culture and tradition since long. It’s peculiar geographical location, diverse climatic conditions and more or less isolated way of life has nurtured and preserved different kind of local arts as per need base.
This is reflected in its artefacts, costumes, folksongs and dances. The introduction of relatively effortless ways of producing the artefacts has caused the local traditions to ebb. Nonetheless, the tourist influx has helped sustain the growth of the traditional Ladakhi handicraft sector to a great extent. In consideration of both, the opportunities and threats that tourism poses, LEDeG felt that handicraft is a potential area of intervention, for revival of the handicraft sector in Ladakh. This was to be done by adopting participatory approaches in collaboration with the community, especially with the Self-Help Groups (SHG).
Through its handicraft intervention, LEDeG strives to:
- Preserve the cultural heritage of Ladakh and the Ladakhi people through popularising their art and artefacts.
- Utilise the local resources through value addition and inclusion of appropriate and cost effective technologies.
- Provide a dedicated marketing infrastructure and logistic support for handicrafts manufactured.
- Generate sustainable and alternate sources of livelihood to its people.
- Strengthen community based institutions.
LEDeG, through its handicraft intervention strategy, is presently working with 38 Self Help Groups (SHGs) from various remote regions having poor infrastructural facilities. The organisation is active in select villages, where it has the experience of running projects and working with the community. It is also one of the partner NGOs of a Consortium of five prominent NGOs of Ladakh, as constituted under the European Union’s (EU’s) project- “Income Generation in the Western Himalayas”. LEDeG not only provides marketing support to its artisans but also trains them on new designs, techniques, adoption of new technologies such as efficient spinning-machines etc. Training of trainers (TOT) is also arranged, particularly in designing. Dastakar and NID have been important resource organisations that skilled our trainers.
A variety of handicraft products manufactured by SHGs are marketed through LEDeG. The majority of the products are woollen and Pashmina items, both of which are cheap raw-materials available in the region. LEDeG’s handicraft team takes care of the whole production cycle by advising, supporting and training the artisan groups, keeping in view the market demand.
Since the majority of these SHGs are based in far-flung areas of Ladakh and have poor infrastructure, LEDeG has made a buy-back arrangement of handicrafts from these promoted SHGs. The product line is then marketed through LEDeG’s Crafts Shop at its Karzoo office in Leh and other exhibitions throughout the country.