The Weekend Leader - Glass and glitter

The pride of a small town in Uttar Pradesh glitters in homes abroad

Azera Parveen Rahman   |   Firozabad


Vol 4 | Issue 47

If you think Firozabad when you talk of glass bangles, then think again. For this Uttar Pradesh town is now crafting intricate glass lamps that dazzle in homes in countries like Kuwait, Spain, Dubai, Australia, France, and the US.

Glassware is the main industry in Firozabad, about 240 km from Taj city Agra, and almost 70 percent of the country's small-scale glass production is concentrated in this district in Uttar Pradesh. Its glass lamps, in particular, are very popular and are mostly exported.

Firozabad's lamps are exported to several foreign countries (Photo: IANS)

"There are a handful of production units involved in lamp making in Firozabad, and most of these lamps are exported. Other than that, we showcase our craft in major fairs in the country which attract serious buyers who place orders in bulk," said Pawan Gupta of Gupta Glass House.

Understandably so, in their shops one would therefore find only sample pieces - one of each kind.

"We have so many different kinds of artifacts that it is not possible to display everything.
“Even then we keep some of the sample pieces so that shopkeepers and traders who visit us from nearby towns and the big metros can place their orders accordingly," Gupta said, adding that their business is now slowly shifting online.

Available in different shapes, sizes, colour and designs, Firozabad's lamps are exported to countries like Kuwait, Spain, Dubai, Australia, France, the US and Hong Kong.

And the design -- some lamps have beaded work on them, some have stone work; there are some that are painted while others have intricate brasswork.

"Most of the designs we decide ourselves, keeping in mind the current times. There are times when the buyer gives us the design," said Banwari Lal, a glassware factory owner.

Although bangle-making production units still draw the biggest number of workers, including from nearby villages, there is also a limited presence of skilled and semi-skilled labour involved in the processes of blowing, cutting, polishing and engraving the artefacts in glass.

Firozabad's glassware makers have also got help from other quarters, like the government and educational institutes like the National Institute of Design (NID) whose students have organised workshops with the town's artisans in order to help them develop new and better designs in tune with the present demand.

Although the shops don't serve as a retail market for its glassware like lamps per se, Firozabad nevertheless makes for a great shopping destination because one can pick up exquisite items at a fraction of the cost that they will be sold at once they hit the store shelves in the cities.

According to Lal, a lamp priced at Rs.500, for instance, will be priced at least thrice more once it reaches the market in a metro like Delhi, and further increase when they are exported. Even then, there is competition from China made lamps and chandeliers.

Rakesh Mohan, a salesman in one of the shops, said: "Suppose a Firozabadi chandelier costs you Rs.3,000, a Chinese chandelier of a similar design will cost you Rs.1,800. The margin is big and therefore shopkeepers, sometimes, prefer to buy the latter because they know it will sell more; but the quality of the Firozabadi glass is much better."

But it's not just lamps and bangles that this glass city boasts of. Delicate perfume bottles, jars, tumblers, and decanters with intricate designs, glass jewellery, vases, flowers, you name it. Your shopping list here can be endless. - IANS

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