Healing Roots of Indigenous Crafts
Craft is changing, along with ritual and tradition, all rapidly losing value in a globalized world. In India, the essential metaphor and symbolism within ancient creative practices are being lost, while remnants of crafts continue almost solely as commodity. Decolonizing the field of art therapy includes acknowledging the complexity and benefit of nature-based traditional and indigenous arts, based in themes of impermanence, humility, gratitude, a holistic sense of well-being while fostering reconnection to meaning, storytelling and authentic self-expression. Rooted in Indian psychology, an integral evaluation of kolam (rice flour drawings) and mehndi (natural temporary tattoos) through the body, mind, heart and spirit, informs adaptation of these traditional art forms for art therapy sessions in south India. The implications of cultural appropriation, appreciation and adaptation are part of a range of ethical considerations in this type of cross-cultural work, which requires research and thoughtful communication of the history and origin of each art form. By studying the integral impact and essence of each practice through the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels, traditional crafts can be sensitively adapted within art therapy practice to help restore relationships to our common, indigenous and healing roots.