Friday, 4 September 2009

The God Makers

Kumortuli (Kumor - Potter, Tuli - Quarters) is a locality in Calcutta where artists and sculptors have been making clay idols of gods and goddesses for seasonal worship for more than 200 years. It is a hereditary skill, and families have been employed in it for generations. The idols are made usually with a skeleton of bamboo, flesh of straw and skin of clay. They are then dried, painted, clothed and wigged. The most famous goddess of the Bengalis - Durga - has her own 5-day festival during September/October (depending on the lunar calendar), and the preparations start from beginning of August.

The clay is kneaded and mixed with sawdust to prevent it from collapsing

Dozens of life-sized (or larger) idols are made in such cramped quarters

Most of the artists have the surname Paul (pronounced as Paal)

Various body parts are made from dies to save time

A "skinless" idol

All the intricate details are done painstakingly by hand

Precaution is necessary as most of the work takes place during the monsoon season

The area also has ruins of colonial palaces tucked into nooks and crannies

"Chokkhudaan" (painting the eyes, chokkhu - eye, daan - giving) is usually considered to be the pivotal moment in the whole procedure

After the sculpting and the painting, come the clothing and the wigging


Nilabhra Banerjee said...

Superb narration Of the whole process. It cannot be better done.

Sanjay said...

impressive.......well compiled.......follow it up with an epilogue of the actual Puja, pandals and the general fanfare in Calcutta during the Durga Puja if possible

Sanjay said...

ever wondered what do Kumortuli artisans live 'on' for the rest of the year ? surely, Durga Puja is the only bountiful time, but what about the rest of the year (which gives little scope of income barring the occassional smaller Pujas like Saraswati Puja, Jagadhattri Puja etc.) ?

Artistic Mind said...

Ghorer pashe eto shilpi jader dekheo dekhini..tader katha mone koriye dili.