Prokritee supports ten different workshops that all have their own expertise when it comes to material and techniques. These are the materials they work with most, listed in alphabetical order.
All dying is done with AZO free or natural colouring.
Bamboo is a giant woody grass that grows in many different kinds and sizes here in Bangladesh. Fresh, green bamboo is easy to slice and bend. After cutting the bamboo, artisans place it in water. This way the sugar dissolves so that later the ants do not eat the material. It is a natural and very effective treatment to keep the bamboo good for a long time.
We use bamboo mainly for lampshades, handfans, baskets and for framing calendars or wallhangers.
The betel nut comes from a kind of palm tree. The nut itself has beautiful drawing and therefore used as beads in jewellery or buttons. Traditionally, the nut is also used to chew on, as it has psycho active substance.
The fibres of the tree are strong and have a deep red colour. It is used to make twine and we weave it into mats to use in placemats or details in bags or purses.
Betel leaf is often confused with betel nut; it is a different plant and eaten together with the nut.
We use different things of the coconut tree; the dried fruit has a beautiful round shape. It is very strong and used for bowls, buttons or decorative items. The fibre wrapped around this fruit is used to make paper and the leaves of the coconut tree have very strong veins. It is very straight, hard and flexible at the same time. In rural areas people make intricate fishing nets of this material. We use it mostly for lampshades and baskets.
In Mymensingh district Prokritee has a partner who collects left over cotton from the garments industry to make new yarn of it. The pulp they make prior to spinning the yard is used for making paper and also paper mache products.
Prokritee artisans mostly use cotton in a recycled way. They buy used saris for the blankets and the recycled sari baskets, bags and ornaments.
New cotton is used in the more exclusive blankets. This is sourced from a partner who makes handloom fabric. The texture is more rough and characteristic than machine made cotton. We are happy to support different local suppliers.
In Bangladesh the date fruit is not used very much; they have less flesh, but very large seeds. Rather, the farmers use the juice of the tree to make sugar of. Many sweets are flavoured with this 'gur'.
The date leaves are used for basketmaking. They have a very light colour and also the weaving techique is very typical for this leaf. This is because the leaves are very flexible and easy to weave into itself.
Prokritee has 4 paper making workshops. The arisans buy raw material, make pulp, lift the paper and dry the sheets of paper. After this, the artisans use the paper to make decorated cards, photo albums, stationary sets, wrapping paper or ornaments.
The hand made paper is made of several different materials such as jute, silk, pinapple fibre, rice husk and cotton. All paint is AZO free.
Bagdha Enterprise has years of experience producing hem products. Many of these women artisans are able to work in teams out of their homes to handspin the hemp twine.
This natural fibre is then made into a unique variety in products which are outstanding in chraftmanship and design.
Hemp is much stronger than jute because the fiber is harder. For the same reason it is more difficult to dye.
The leaves of this plant are excellent to weave with. When they are a little bit wet, the artisan can braid easily with it. Once dry it is strong and fixed. Prokritee uses this material a lot for baskets, lampshades and floormats. Using different parts of the plant gives different effects to the weaving, but it all stays in the same tone.
Recently we have started to use natural colours to dye the material. This results in subtle, earthly tones.
Indigo is a very old and natural flower to dye fabrics. It is mostly grown in the North of Bangladesh. MCC supported farmers in growing this plant and Prokritee still buys from this supplier. We use it for dying our fabrics and also sell it raw so that you can dye your own products.
Natural indigo is expensive because of the many different steps in the process of extraction. Dying also requires expertise.
Jute is also called the gold of Bengal. Bangladesh has always been an important exporter of jute. Jute sticks grow very good here. After harvesting, the farmers soak the sticks in water to make it soft. After this they dry it, wash it, comb it and finally spin twine of it. Riding throught the countryside, you can pick up the typical smell of jute.
Prokritee uses this material for making paper, twine and of course for bags.
In the northern part of Bangladesh Hagjiganj Handicraft artisans make beautiful, strong baskets with kaisa grass. It is a material that grows in the fields surrounding their workshop. After harvesting, the grass has to be dried for a couple of days before they can use it to make products.
The artisans wrap the bundles of grass with different materials to add texture or colour, for example old sari fabric, coloured palm leaf or natural jute.
Nowadays our recycled sari wrapping hampers are very popular as every piece is unique.
At Shuktara, one of Prokritee's units, the artisans are skilled in working with leather. This is used for details and belts for bags and wallets.
The material is bought in local markets.
Metal / recycled tin
Inspired by the rickshaw painters, the artisans of Prokritee make ornaments and household items made of recycled tin, decorated with the colourful and traditional paintings.
Patti grass is a very fine material which the artisans of Prokritee use for basket making. They can dye it with AZO free dye and also natural colouring to make the patterns more visible.
Because it is so fine, it is also easy to weave other materials in, such as natural twines or recycled sari twine.
Women artisans at Keya Palm, one of the workshops of Prokritee, magically weave the leaves of keya, date and palm trees to create a variety of eco-friendly ornaments.
This amazing enterprise began as a small co-op over twenty years ago and has developed into a thriving business whose products have become popular throughout the world.
This nativity set is made of paper mache and painted with AZO free paint. The set consists of Mary, Josef, the baby Jesus, an angel, three wise men, a shepherd, his sheep and a donkey.
The artisans use a mould for individual products and they do handpainting, using very bright colors and painting traditional Bengali features for the nativity sets.
Prokritee encourages using recycled materials for its products. For paper making we collect waste jute from jute mills and cotton from the garments industry. With their left over scraps, the artisans make beautiful new paper.
Old materials such as paper, sari or plastic we weave into new twine and we use for bakset making.
The colours are surprising and the products are unique.
Mrinmoy Pottery Project is located in the village of Manikganj. This is a potter village where many families help in this business. The Pals are the traditional potters of 14 generations old.
Usually they make traditional cooking pots for food, water jars for their household and local sell. They also have an expertise to make statues of Hindu gods and goddess for ritual purposes and worships.
Besides that they make clay nativity products for export, combining their traditional skills with modern designs.
This plant is an aquatic plant that is found in almost everywhere in Bangladesh. There are three different types; the Prokritee artisans use the most common one. It is often considered a highly problematic plant because it grows very fast and it blocks the waterways. So everybody is happy to use this plant.
We use the pulp to make paper and the dry stems to weave baskets. The stems can be twisted very easily because it is fine and flexible.
These cards are made by a partner called Shova Handicraft. Most of the families who live in this area are refugees from India during the liberation war. There are 47 women and they work mostly at home where they can take care of their families and where their families can support them in their handicrafts.
The cards have traditional Kolka designs. The women first draw the detailed designs on the paper. Then they punch the figures out of the wheat straw and carefully paste them on the paper with glue.
In Bangladesh wood is compared to other countries expensive. Therefore Prokritee does not use much wood in the products. One of our partners makes beautiful stools with recycled sari twine and wooden legs. For this rain tree wood is used.