Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra (SKKK) works with Lambani artisans in the Bellary district of Karnataka. Lambanis or Banjaras are a nomadic, gypsy tribe and are well-known for their exquisite traditional hand-embroidery using various stitches and mirror crafts. The Lambanis have their own cultural traditions, and distinct language and customs, expressed in their unique crafts. Lambani embroidery is a fusion of pattern darning, mirror work, cross stitch, and overlaid and quilting stitches with borders of Kangura patchwork appliqué done on a base fabric. A distinctive design element is the use of local mud resist handloom fabric, and mirrors, shells and white ornamental trims. The objective of SKKK is to promote livelihood opportunities among artisans living in the Bellary region . Currently, they are working with approximately 300 women engaged in embroidery, khadi spinning and weaving.
SKKK has been operational since 1984 as a registered society. The SKKK craft centre provides centralised production facilities where raw material is stored and a range of craft processes including hand-block printing, dyeing, stitching, and finishing are completed. SKKK product range includes home furnishings like cushion covers, bedspreads, and wall hangings; accessories like mobile pouches, bags, purses, and belts; and women’s garments. The base fabric used for making products is hand-block-printed in traditional Lambani motifs. At the core of SKKK activities is the need for artisan empowerment, and the organization provides a schedule of training, development, and fair compensation that honors artisans mastery and skills. The artisans are paid on a piece-rate basis and provided with subsidized rations, bonus, and provident fund. Sandur products are currently marketed through domestic and international exhibitions; through leading retail stores; and in the export market. SKKK has been awarded the prestigious ‘UNESCO Seal of Excellence for Handicrafts in South Asia’ in 2004. The Award recognizes the very best of contemporary handicrafts.