Born into crafting legacy, Shaikh Zakeer Hussain is a fourth-generation Udayagiri artisan. Almost a century ago, Zakeer’s great grandfather - a carpenter by vocation, acquired the skills to make intricate hand carved wooden cutlery. The artisanal wealth and heritage have been passed on in the family ever since. Zakeer’s grand father, Shaikh Abdul Basheer, and his mother, Gausia Begum, took their inherited knowledge a step further. With the support of certain government initiatives, they trained scores of women over the years. Both have been conferred with State awards for their efforts and their work.
Zakeer got selected to serve in the army, a much sought-after opportunity for youth from hinterlands of India. However, he eventually decided to assist his mother in her endeavours and take forward the family legacy. They now run an organisation that supports over 150 women. Zakeer has been using contemporary mediums such as social media to promote their work. While spoons, forks, bowls and trays continue to be the most popular, they also make stationery products like pen stands and mobile stands. Carving patterns continue to evolve with time, with a perfect blend of traditional elements and modern tastes keeping the 14th century craft fresh and alive today.