On a Friday morning the roads in Banani was empty but the Platinum Grand Hotel in road 11 was a busier than usual. Visitors and onlookers were crowding the hotel’s second floor where a day-long exhibition titled ‘Native Artistry’ was being held.
Artisans from around the capital gathered to showcase their products which ranged from brass jewelries, ceramic pots, hand painted saris to homemade pickles. The event was organized by Muzikraft Bangladesh and media partner was Bangladesh Post.
‘Living Blue’ is the largest producer of natural indigo in the country. They started off as a government project of CARE Bangladesh in Rangpur and Lalmonirhat. All of their products are dyed a natural blue and the highest price is BDT 3500. The shop regularly exports their products to India, France and Canada.
Natasha Kabir, founder of ‘Magical Art of Silence’ started an online page for the disabled community who use sign languages. Funded by the US State Department, her project aims to uphold works of disabled artists. On display were paintings and handmade jewelries.
One of the stalls at the exhibition was ‘Jothashilpo’ which specializes in handicrafts like notebooks, sarees and dupattas made from gamcha (traditional handloom) and jamdani scarves. The raw materials are outsourced from Kushtia and the prices range between BDT 200 to BDT 2200.
The products displayed by ‘Crafts and Colors’ seemed to illuminate the whole place with their vibrant and colorfully painted wooden trays, hurricane lamps, tiffin carriers, combs and more showpieces. According to the owners, the designs were influenced by folk art.
The name ‘Fusion Terminal’ was reflected in their products because they gather their ingredients from all over the country and turn them into mouth-watering pickles. They offered visitors free tastings of their pickles and the ones made from belumbu and shatkora (traditional sour fruits) were instant hits.
Hand painted muslin sarees have been creating a sensation on social media for quite some time but the ones that were on display by ‘Ra’ (as in the Bangla letter) were basking in their uniqueness. One particular saree caught everyone’s attention where the artist drew Da Vinci’s Monalisa all over the muslin piece.
Owner of ‘Jophiel’ Mehnaz Khandaker informed Bangladesh Post that she researched on herbal and ayurvedic skin care products for over twenty years and only recently started selling handmade soaps, coffee scrubs and detoxifying tea. Her products are all natural and preservative free.
A young confident owner of ‘Define Dujour’, Nuzhat began her journey into the world of entrepreneurship from 2016 and she has not since looked back. She makes bedsheets and cushion covers with block prints and her small workshop based in Mohammadpur takes part different exhibitions. Price of her works range between BDT 300-6000.
An already established brand in the market, ‘Manas’ was showcasing their exclusive collection of one pieces, jewelries and household items etc. Owner Faiza Ahmed said that their designs are inspired by songs, movies and even ancient art.
One of the visitors, Syeda Ershad Banu said, “I feel really good coming here. Most of the items here are from our country. The product quality is very good and the price is reasonable as well. If more fairs like these are conducted then we would be able uphold our culture better at the international platform.”
Another equally enthusiastic visitor Dr Sathi Dastider said, “The arrangements have been done in a very coordinated way. The items are quite fashionable and on the other hand also represent our heritage. I am totally enjoying myself here. I hope fairs like this are held more often so that we become more obliged to buy our own products.”
Lori A. Walsh Imdad, Executive Director and Owner of Muzikraft Bangladesh said, “We have had a lot of visitors, both local and foreign. The stall owners are very happy and excited and products are selling quite well. The event is living up to my expectation and I plan to create more events like these in the future and continue to promote Bangladeshi items.”