It is time to put traditional handicraft in its place and separateindustrial industrial imitations The word handicraft includes the work made with the talent of the artisan. It is a work done, except for a few cases, without the help of machinery that imitates the same work. That is to say, in an autonomous and automation-free way. Each piece that the artisan makes with his own hands is unique. Each piece is made with his own particular skill and is different from the rest. This doesn't occur with the mass produced handicrafts that mass-produce objects that are exactly the same.

If it’s mass produced it’s not handicraft anymore

Traditional handicraft products are handmade. The fewer procedures done with the use of machines, the purer the craftsmanship will be. Nowadays we can find many objects labelled as handicraft. However, we must consider the fact that depending on their origin; especially those coming from China. These objects are just commercial products imitating the originality and uniqueness of the traditional craftsmanship. One of the main differences between both procedures is that true handicraft is the result of tradition, history and culture. Throughout time, the characteristics of each and every one of the objects have varied depending on the place where it was conceived, the landscape, climate or history of the place.

The historical process of traditional handicraft

Sometimes, besides confusing original handicraft with industrial imitations, we may lack the knowledge of how these items are made. We need to consider certain characteristics so that we don’t get lost between the concepts of handicraft and hand made. Handicraft comes from the cultural identity of a community or region that has been able to preserve the rudimentary processes used throughout time to create the symbols of their own culture. The material used to develop these objects has always been obtained from the place where the artisan lived. The artisan knows the traditional techniques; he masters them and can act as a teacher to future generations. Therefore, an artisan can teach and evaluate the symbols and ideology of the local culture. Another of the basic characteristics of the products that are completely artisanal is that each of the pieces, apart from being different from one another, possesses a quality that cannot be matched by industrial handicraft.

The difficult task of surviving

These products are competing with authentic handicrafts because they simulate, with the help of mechanical processes, the details of the artisanal objects; but their quality is very low as the only thing that matters to the fabricants is to reduce the costs. Their benefit is higher due to the low quality of their products. When looking for a unique, original, high quality product we must consider the origin of the piece we want to acquire in order to make sure you aren't given something that just isn’t handicraft, but an industrial product manufactured in an assembly line.

A big sector of those who defend true handicraft handicraft, consider it to be halfway between design and art. To the other sector it is the product of the continuation of the so called traditional professions where the aesthetics play an important role, but so does the practical sense of the object. Defending the traditional professions is the first step to ensure that the original handicraft keeps existing, and isn’t lost as a historical and cultural symbol of each region. Maybe you’ve heard that in your area traditional professions are disappearing. This is because the industrialization of products that imitate handicraft is occupying a large part of the market. For artisans, surviving is becoming difficultmore difficult. One characteristic that determines what handicraft is is that its process of creation has to be done in individual workshops or a place where a small group of people can work. This makes the task of commercializing their products very hard, since they don’t have the strength of the industry that imitates handicraft.

A current tendency is fighting to make the access to the market easier for the artisans, instead of being replaced by industrial handicraft.

In Munira, the passion and love for the artisan’s work are the engine that helps us continue with the creation of unique and exclusive products made with leather, that survive the passing of time. Defending traditional handicraft over the industrial one is our raison d’etre.