Shantiniketan Leather Bags from Amar Kutir
Amar Kutir: How it Started
Amar Kutir was once place of refuge for activists involved in independence movements. Today the scene is different; it has a big cooperative society for rural development. This place is at a distance of 15kms from Shantiniketan, but Rabindranath Tagore is no way associated with this place. Amar Kutir (my cottage) was set up by Sushen Mukherjee in 1927.Sushen believed that one’s first and foremost purpose of life should be “to free yourself from the bondage of foreign rule”. While he had many young followers ready to fight against British and who were most often in hiding, Sushen was worried about how they would maintain their day to day living. So it was here at Amar Kutir, he established the rudiments of cottage industry.
Shantiniketan Leather Bags
What started as an initiative for self sustenance turned into full fledged industry offering employment to many! I visited the unit producing Shantiniketan leather bags and other goods. There are approx 65 experts in the unit, each person assigned with a particular job. The raw material passed from one expert’s hand to the next and then next till it came out finally a beautiful pouch or key chain, or hand bag, may be even as pencil box or lipstick holder etc.
The dye they use is vegetable dye, yet years of working with these dyes changed the color of the skin of this lady’s fingers. They have turned white. I asked her if it was painful, she said there was no pain or numbness, only the color of the skin had changed. Some of them were using finger caps made of rubber. Observe carefully, you will see the finger caps in her right hand.
Showroom at Amar Kutir
They have a beautiful showroom stuffed with various products. The other units there are the Kantha stitch products, needle craft unit, shola and lac crafts units. The products beautiful and all are reasonably priced. I was happy to visit the place, talk to the locals there and came back happy with some of their stuffs.