"Craftsmanship is patience, purpose, and beauty"
The UN refers to craftsmanship as the most important manifestation of intangible cultural heritage. But why should we bother in preserving it? If providing livelihood to countless communities around the globe feels too distant for us, let us touch on something that speaks of us directly. The very existence of craftsmanship says a lot about who we are. The same way art and music each our soul, craftsmanship tells stories of creativity and of our constant strive for beauty. We abandon that at our peril.
We are all still trying to figure out what's the proper place of craftsmanship in today's mass-marked. But here we put forward 3 reasons why we believe it still matters and should remain that way.
1. True craftsmen are honest and care about their work in a way a machine doesn't
Producing with care is today reserved only to the honest and dedicated ones. In other words, true craftsmen. The artisan's constant pursuit of craft mastership demands time and attention. This translates in striving for ever-improving quality standards. And the beautiful thing is what comes out of that. If you have ever held a Washein hat and looked closely, you would know what we refer to. We refer to fine details for which only awe can be expressed.
On the other hand, and as we have all experienced, the pragmatic approach that artisan craftsmen take to their work always yield durable, timeless and elegant pieces. Pieces with which we all end up forming emotional connections. Being aware deep inside us that sometime, somewhere, our object was worked by someone who gave their whole attention to it, makes them connect with us at an spiritual level.
2. We would all be worse off culturally if craftsmanship disappeared
An enormous lament would happen if such an scenario is ever realised. If creative and hand-worked goods were to disappear, we would all then be inhabiting a very dull and sad place. We are deep wired to rect to stories and culture, and carrying with you an item with no story or trace whatsoever of a maker would slowly drain our souls.
Of course we acknowledge that not everything needs to involve craftsmanship, but pieces like hats and bags that are worn on occasions, should have that extra layer of magic that craftsmanship adds. Knowing something was hand-worked by a honest craftsman holding ancestral skills makes a big difference in how we perceive it. Ultimately, we value goods that resist the test of time. and only handcrafted products achieve that. Which mean that only them get to become part of that ever-decreasing list of things we value.
3. Craftsmanship maintains ancestral knowledge and skills alive
As the Global Alliance remind us, indigenous people have not only survived radical changes in environmental conditions but gone on to thrive and form some of the richest and largest cultures on Earth. This cannot be achieved through intellectual capacity but only through practical wisdom. Indigenous people are substantially involved in artisan craftsmanship which preserves their ancestral heritage and offers us a gate to their culture and skills.
On the other hand, the proximity with nature by which ancestral communities have lived for centuries have given them a wealth of pragmatic knowledge stranger to us. By failing to support and maintain this alive, we risk loosing knowledge related to ecological regeneration, climate adaptation, and disaster prediction. With the advent of climate change and the various industries' Climate Declarations that followed, preserving this wisdom seems more relevant than ever.
One way of doing this is through the valuing and encouragement of craftsmanship.
We are all part of this important conversation of our age and if you have something to say on the importance of craftsmanship, please do so in the comments below. We welcome and love reading different views.