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Batik craftswomen in Java, Indonesia
Savisiipi handicrafts store in Pori, Finland
A handicraft Selling-Factory shop, Isfahan, Iran
Artesanato Mineiro

A handicraft is a traditional main sector of craft making and applies to a wide range of creative and design activities that are related to making things with one's hands and skill, including work with textiles, moldable and rigid materials, paper, plant fibers, clay, etc. One of the oldest handicraft is Dhokra; this is a sort of metal casting that has been used in India for over 5,000 years and is still used. In Iranian Baluchistan, women still make red ware hand-made pottery with dotted ornaments, much similar to the 4,000-year-old pottery tradition of Kalpurgan, an archaeological site near the village. Usually, the term is applied to traditional techniques of creating items (whether for personal use or as products) that are both practical and aesthetic. Handicraft industries are those that produce things with hands to meet the needs of the people in their locality without using machines.[1][2][3][4]

Collective terms for handicrafts include artisanry, crafting, and handcrafting. The term arts and crafts is also applied, especially in the United States and mostly to hobbyists' and children's output rather than items crafted for daily use, but this distinction is not formal, and the term is easily confused with the Arts and Crafts design movement, which is in fact as practical as it is aesthetic.

Handicraft has its roots in the rural crafts—the material-goods necessities—of ancient civilizations, and many specific crafts have been practiced for centuries, while others are modern inventions or popularizations of crafts which were originally practiced in a limited geographic area.

Many handcrafters use natural, even entirely indigenous, materials while others may prefer modern, non-traditional materials, and even upcycle industrial materials. The individual artisanship of a handcrafted item is the paramount criterion; those made by mass production or machines are not handicraft goods.

Seen as developing the skills and creative interests of students, generally and sometimes towards a particular craft or trade, handicrafts are often integrated into educational systems, both informally and formally. Most crafts require the development of skill and the application of patience but can be learned by virtually anyone.

Like folk art, handicraft output often has cultural and/or religious significance, and increasingly may have a political message as well, as in craftivism. Many crafts become very popular for brief periods of time (a few months, or a few years), spreading rapidly among the crafting population as everyone emulates the first examples, then their popularity wanes until a later resurgence.

The Arts and Crafts movement in the West


The Arts and Crafts movement originated as a late-19th-century design reform and social movement principally in Europe, North America and Australia, and continues today. Its proponents are motivated by the ideals of movement founders such as William Morris and John Ruskin, who proposed that in pre-industrial societies, such as the European Middle Ages, people had achieved fulfillment through the creative process of handicrafts. This was held up in contrast to what was perceived to be the alienating effects of industrial labor.

Works Progress Administration, Crafts Class, US, 1935

These activities were called crafts because originally many of them were professions under the guild system. Adolescents were apprenticed to a master craftsman and refined their skills over a period of years in exchange for low wages. By the time their training was complete, they were well equipped to set up in trade for themselves, earning their living with the skill that could be traded directly within the community, often for goods and services. The Industrial Revolution and the increasing mechanization of production processes gradually reduced or eliminated many of the roles professional craftspeople played, and today many handicrafts are increasingly seen, especially when no longer the mainstay of a formal vocational trade, as a form of hobby, folk art and sometimes fine art.

The term handicrafts can also refer to the products themselves of such artisanal efforts, that require specialized knowledge, maybe highly technical in their execution, require specialized equipment and/or facilities to produce, involve manual labor or a blue-collar work ethic, are accessible to the general public, and are constructed from materials with histories that exceed the boundaries of Western "fine art" tradition, such as ceramics, glass, textiles, metal and wood. These products are produced within a specific community of practice, and while they mostly differ from the products produced within the communities of art and design, the boundaries often overlap, resulting in hybrid objects. Additionally, as the interpretation and validation of art is frequently a matter of context, an audience may perceive handcrafted objects as art objects when these objects are viewed within an art context, such as in a museum or in a position of prominence in one's home.

In modern education

At the Buell Children's Museum in Pueblo, Colorado, children and their guardians partake in "arts and crafts" (i.e. handicrafts)
Draw and color Bat-Trang ceramic

Simple "arts and crafts" projects are a common elementary and middle school activity in both mainstream and alternative education systems around the world.

In some of the Scandinavian or Nordic countries, more advanced handicrafts form part of the formal, compulsory school curriculum, and are collectively referred to as slöjd in Swedish, and käsityö in Finnish. Students learn how to work mainly with metal, textile and wood, not for professional training purposes as in American vocational–technical schools, but with the aim to develop children's and teens' practical skills, such as everyday problem-solving ability, tool use, and understanding of the materials that surround us for economical, cultural and environmental purposes.

Secondary schools and college and university art departments increasingly provide elective options for more handicraft-based arts, in addition to formal "fine arts", a distinction that continues to fade throughout the years, especially with the rise of studio craft, i.e. the use of traditional handicrafts techniques by professional fine artists.

Many community centers and schools run evening or day classes and workshops, for adults and children, offering to teach basic craft skills in a short period of time.

Handcrafted shoes from bamboo made by artists of West Bengal, India, at a fair in Kolkata
A handmade sofa set made from fibers extracted from bamboo at a fair in Kolkata, made by artists of West Bengal, India
Making conical hats (nón lá) in Huế countryside, Vietnam
Typical Filipino handmade brooms in a restaurant of Banaue Municipal Town
Wooden dolls from Katawa, West Bengal, India.
Tourist buying handicrafts in Namibia, an important source of income for some tourist destinations

Handicraft production


Handicraft production is a small–scale production of products using manual labor. It was especially common in the Middle Ages, during the era of the Industrial Revolution it was mainly supplanted by mass production, however, it still exists for the production of goods such as luxury goods.[5] The "handmade effect" is a phenomenon where consumers exhibit a preference for products that are crafted by human labor rather than produced through automated or robotic processes. This preference is particularly pronounced for products with higher symbolic value, where expressing one's beliefs and personality holds greater significance. Consumers, especially in contexts emphasizing symbolic consumption, have a stronger motivation for uniqueness and associate human labor more closely with product uniqueness. In product categories where mechanical production is common, consumers are more attracted to products labeled as handmade.[6] The positive handmade effect on product attractiveness is driven, in large part, by the perception that handmade products symbolically "contain love." The handmade effect is influenced by two key factors. Firstly, consumers express stronger intentions to purchase handmade products when buying gifts for loved ones, compared to more distant recipients. Secondly, they are willing to pay a higher price for handmade gifts when the purchase is motivated by the desire to convey love rather than simply acquiring the best-performing product.[7]

The handicraft method of production has been used by people since ancient times. Initially, people engaged in handicraft production aimed to satisfy the needs of their own economy, however, with the development of commodity–money relations, an increasing number of goods produced by them began to be supplied to the market. Mostly these were household products: dishes, furniture, jewelry, souvenirs, clothes, shoes. However, over time, other goods, such as weapons, began to go on sale.[8]

In pre–revolutionary Russia, handicraft production was quite widespread: about 30% of all manufactured products were produced by handicraft methods. Products were sold at fairs, and barter exchange was widespread.[8] With the beginning of industrialisation and collectivization of the Soviet Union, the handicraft mode of production was declared "the highest degree of oppression of the working people" and ceased to exist in almost all spheres of the Soviet economy except on an informal basis.[9]

Some state economies, such as that of Vietnam, are largely based on handicraft production. For example, in the 1950s in North Vietnam, there were more than 100,000 handicraft enterprises. In the early 1970s, even before the end of the war, handicraft production provided about half of all the products of the local industry and almost a third of the total industrial production of the republic. By 1977, after the reunification of Vietnam, there were 700,000 handicraftsmen in South Vietnam.[10]

Handicraft production in Nepal withstands competition with industrial production and foreign goods, which is explained not only by economic and natural–geographical factors, but also by the support and encouragement of the handicraft industry from the state.[11]

List of common handicrafts


There are almost as many variations on the theme of handicrafts as there are crafters with time on their hands, but they can be broken down into a number of categories:

Using textiles or leather


Using wood, metal, clay, bone, horn, glass, or stone


Using paper or canvas


Using plants other than wood



Handmade dolls featuring traditional attire in Afghanistan
Handicrafts for sale in Mysore, India

Sales venues


Handicrafts are often made for home use and decor.[12] If sold, they are sold in direct sales,[13] gift shops,[14] public markets,[15] and online shopping.[16] In developing countries, handicrafts are sold to locals and as souvenirs to tourists.[17] Sellers tend to speak at least a few words of common tourist languages.[18] There are also specialty markets such as:

In Vietnam


According to the Vietnam Handicrafts Export Association (VIETCRAFT), Vietnam's handicrafts export turnover in 2023 reached USD 2.2 billion, up 10.5% over 2022.[20][21][22] The United States is Vietnam's largest export market, accounting for 35% of total export turnover.[23][24][25] Vietnam's handicrafts industry currently has about 600 villages, with over 10 million direct workers.[26][27][28]

Wickerwork[29] is a traditional handicraft industry, based on the use of two basic materials, bamboo and rattan.[30][31][32][33] Vietnam currently has 893 villages specializing in wickerwork,[34] accounting for 24% of the total number of villages,[35] including 647 bamboo and rattan villages and 246 straw and water hyacinth villages.

A craft done by using twilling papers

See also



  1. ^ Thomas MacMillan (30 April 2012). "On State Street, "Maker" Movement Arrives". New Haven Independent. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  2. ^ "Gaia Handicraft". Archived from the original on 26 October 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  3. ^ Martinez, Sylvia (2013). Invent To Learn. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge. pp. 32–35. ISBN 978-0-9891511-0-8.
  4. ^ Dugang, Lilia. "Handicraft". Vocabulary.
  5. ^ "Handicraft Production". Great Soviet Encyclopedia.
  6. ^ Granulo, Armin; Fuchs, Christoph; Puntoni, Stefano (January 2021). "Preference for Human (vs. Robotic) Labor is Stronger in Symbolic Consumption Contexts". Journal of Consumer Psychology. 31 (1): 72–80. doi:10.1002/jcpy.1181. hdl:1765/129579. ISSN 1057-7408.
  7. ^ Fuchs, Christoph; Schreier, Martin; Van Osselaer, Stijn M.J. (March 2015). "The Handmade Effect: What's Love Got to Do with It?". Journal of Marketing. 79 (2): 98–110. doi:10.1509/jm.14.0018. ISSN 0022-2429.
  8. ^ a b "Handicraft Production". History of the Russian Empire.
  9. ^ "Crafts and Handicraft Production of the Irkutsk Province in the Late 19th – First Third of the 20th Century: Conceptual Specificity". Eurasian Union of Scientists.
  10. ^ Evgeny Glazunov (1981). "Chapter 3. The Policy of the Party in Relation to the National and Petty Bourgeoisie During the Transition to the Construction of Socialism. Socialist Transformations of Private Industry and Trade". Reforming Private Industry and Commerce in Vietnam. Moscow: Publishing House "Science", Main Editorial Office of Oriental Literature. pp. 134, 173.
  11. ^ Gleriy Shirokov (1988). "Nepal". Industrialization of Central Asian Countries. Publishing House "Science", Main Editorial Office of Oriental Literature. p. 23.
  12. ^ Clark, Alex (18 September 2011). "The hell of handicrafts". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  13. ^ Kumar, Amit (7 November 2011). "Handicraft business: Weaving a career out of handicrafts and empowering the Indian artisans". Economic Times of India. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  14. ^ Filou, Emilie (13 June 2013). "Africa's village crafts with big ambitions". Africa Report. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  15. ^ Dziadek, Francesca (8 December 2011). "Sant' Ambrogio's street festival". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  16. ^ Blair, Elizabeth (13 December 2012). "Etsy Crafts A Strategy For Staying Handmade And Profitable". NPR. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  17. ^ "Handicraft industry needs to adopt technology". Economic Times of India. 22 February 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  18. ^ "Retail Sales: Tourists, Travelers". 25 April 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  19. ^ Asim, Muhammad (10 May 2023). "Craft (Handmade) Industry Statistics for 2023". The Pak Crafts. Retrieved 15 August 2023.
  20. ^ congly.vn (11 December 2023). "Xuất khẩu gốm sứ mỹ nghệ tháng 11 cao nhất trong 12 tháng". congly.vn (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  21. ^ tcct (12 December 2023). "Phát triển sản xuất và tiêu thụ hàng Việt Nam trong tình hình mới". Tạp chí Công Thương (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  22. ^ "TTWTO VCCI - (Tin tức) Mục tiêu 6 tỷ USD xuất khẩu thủ công mỹ nghệ: Vướng ở đâu?". trungtamwto.vn. Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  23. ^ VTV, BAO DIEN TU (30 August 2023). "8 tháng năm 2023: Hoa Kỳ tiếp tục là thị trường xuất khẩu lớn nhất của Việt Nam". BAO DIEN TU VTV (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  24. ^ PHÓNG, BÁO SÀI GÒN GIẢI (8 September 2023). "Mỹ là thị trường xuất khẩu số 1 của Việt Nam". BÁO SÀI GÒN GIẢI PHÓNG (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  25. ^ VTV, BAO DIEN TU (30 July 2023). "7 tháng năm 2023: Hoa Kỳ là thị trường xuất khẩu lớn nhất của Việt Nam". BAO DIEN TU VTV (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  26. ^ hanoimoi.vn (7 July 2023). ""Gỡ khó" cho làng nghề". hanoimoi.vn (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  27. ^ "Quy hoạch, mở rộng vùng nguyên liệu cho làng nghề". Báo Nhân Dân điện tử (in Vietnamese). 15 August 2023. Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  28. ^ Chính, Báo Sài Gòn Đầu Tư Tài (15 August 2023). "Làng nghề bị thu hẹp vì thiếu nguyên liệu đầu vào". Báo Sài Gòn Đầu Tư Tài Chính (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  29. ^ MEDIATECH. "Mây tre đan là gì? Các sản phẩm mây tre đan". baothaibinh.com.vn (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  30. ^ An, Truyền hình Nghệ. "Mây tre đan mang lại thu nhập khá cho người dân vùng cao". truyenhinhnghean.vn. Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  31. ^ "Các làng nghề nhộn nhịp sản xuất đầu năm". qdnd.vn. Retrieved 6 January 2024.
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  33. ^ thanglong.chinhphu.vn. "Kết nối cung cầu nguyên liệu, tạo cơ hội xuất khẩu mây tre đan". thanglong.chinhphu.vn (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  34. ^ "Đi tìm thị trường tiêu thụ sản phẩm nghề mây tre lá". Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  35. ^ Giang, Chi cục Tiêu chuẩn-Đo lường- Chất lượng tỉnh An. "Xây dựng hệ thống tiêu chuẩn, quy chuẩn kỹ thuật để ngành mây tre đan phát triển bền vững". Chi cục Tiêu chuẩn - Đo lường - Chất lượng tỉnh An Giang. Retrieved 6 January 2024.