Jaipur Rugs Foundation’s Artisans Master Creativity through ‘Manchaha’- Expression of Heart
A work of an artisan, especially a women artisan, is often discredited or not appreciated enough. Due to their skills, we enjoy the finest of handicrafts. In order to empower their artisan and create their artistic identity, Jaipur Rugs Foundation works with partner organizations on skill development for underprivileged artisan communities. These programs derive self-sustenance and an improved standard of living through rug weaving. Not only just the training for weaving but also upskilling the weavers to be designers so they can smoothly transition from artisan to artist.
Manchaha, a Hindi word, which means “Expression of my heart,” is a sustainable development initiative where weavers get to design their own rug for the first time ever. This design intervention by Jaipur Rugs Foundation taps into the untamed creative capacity in rural India by nurturing their potential and transforming a community from exploitation to empowerment. Manchaha which started as an experiment has stunned the world with original designs matching the caliber of global professionals. This social innovation has uniquely sustained the dying age-old art of hand-knotting by renewing the passion for weaving, through unfiltered expression. It has targeted economic transformation through regular income and by instilling confidence. Each rug is also made using leftover hand-spun yarn batches, which reduces industry-wide wastage that had no solution, and makes its color palette as unique as its design.
This social innovation to unleash design creativity among artisan communities leads to the representation of artisans on national and international platforms. Every Manchaha design symbolizes the story of its creator as it binds their emotions, character, and dreams together. Manchaha awards came into existence around 2018. From 2021 to 2022, 215 Manchaha awards were distributed, bringing countless stories to life. This year, artisans were presented with products that truly remained a necessity for them till then. They were awarded their choice of essentials such as a Refrigerator, Washing machine, Gold coin, Almirah, etc. depending on the prize amount. The event opened doors of appreciation for every artisan who came forward to weave their dreams and inner thoughts in the most intriguing manner.
Besides Manchaha awards, many carpets won international awards or currently adorn the house of esteemed personalities. Due to the Manchaha initiative, many inspiring stories started springing in. One such story is of Bimla Devi who won German Design Award for her Manchaha ‘Kamal.’ Standing amidst the renowned designers and artists, our humble Bimla Devi received the award with pride.
To increase the bandwidth of their artisan’s creative capacity, Jaipur Rugs Foundation introduced The Social Innovation and Manchaha Design Lab with Royal Rajasthan Foundation. It is developed as an experimentation and knowledge hub for women artisans and designers in the rural clusters to generate ideas and insights, design prototypes, and share knowledge about scalable innovations within the crafts and design stream that will sustain the livelihoods in the villages. While challenging the social norms and doctrines of classic design schools, the Social Innovation and Design Lab, brought the finest professionals of designing to the doorstep of the artisans and provided them with diverse experiences of intersectionality which connect rural India to the global stage.
Recently, JRF also started a design program in collaboration with British Council. The artisans will co-create with design students of UAL and expand the horizons of their craft. Many artisans dutifully attended the sessions and are enthusiastically participating in designing rugs.