Tuesday, December 6, 2022
West Bengal

Arts & Crafts of West Bengal

▪ Introduction ▪ Mangalghat ▪ Lakshmi Ghat ▪ Manasa Ghat ▪ Tulsimancha
▪ Bara -Murti ▪ Harhi ▪ Pressed-nose Dolls ▪ Kalasi Kankhe Putul
▪ Patua-made Dolls ▪ Putul(dolls) ▪ Bankura Pottery ▪ Krishnanagar Pottery

Bankura Pottery:

The principal centres where the terracotta horses and elephants are produced are Panchmura, Rajagarm, Sonamukhi and Hamirpur. Each of these four centres has its local style. Bankura horse is very popular. The Bankura pottery is mainly used for ritualistic purposes. The rituals are almost all exclusively associated with local village gods and folk-festivals in the worship of various kinds of tribal, semi-tribal and folk deities. The Panchmura-style of pottery is the best and the finest of all the four types. The symmetry of shape, the rhythm of the rounded curves of the body, especially of the horse, have lent a dignity and charm to it's form which is incomparable. Simplicity and dynamism are the chief components of Panchmura-style. It is more sophisticated than the other three types-Rajagram, Sonamukhi and Kamirpur types are a little less sophisticated and more massive. In Jhargram and Gopiballavpur areas in Midnapore district, within the tribal belt, the terracotta horses assume a crude near-primitive form and are fully hand modeled.

Tools: The tools used for making Bankura Pottery are Ucha which is a semi circular piece pf bamboo used for surface finishing, Balya which is a stone tool of about 3.5 " (inches) by 3 " used as a beater of the inner surface of a pot, Pitna which is a wooden beater of about 10 " by 4 " used for beating and shaping the outer surface of the pot or Chiari made of bamboo of about 4.5 " by .5 " used for decorating clay figures. Other than these tools, there are potters wheels and kilns for firing. The kilns are generally of circular or parabolic (Kula-type or bamboo fan shaped) with enclosures on all sides with a permanent stoke-hole. It is locally known as Sheuna Poan and the circular type is known as Berasal Poan.

Process: The terracotta horses and elephants are turned out in separate parts, on the wheel. The four legs, the full neck in two parts and the face (seven pieces in all) are turned out separately on the wheel for the horse and then joined up by hand. Similar process is applied to the elephant also. After the parts are joined up by hand, the figures of horses and elephants take shape. By Ucha and Chiari the figures are scraped and made even. Additional clay is used for making up defects in the body and giving it the right shape and form. The figures are then allowed to dry in the sun. The leaf-like ears and the tails are done in moulds and are later inserted in grooves left on the body. After a little drying in the sun, holes are made on appropriate parts of the body. This is done before full drying, otherwise the inner and the outer surface of the body will not be equally dry. Cracks may develop in the body for unequal drying of the inner and the outer portions. The dehydration is slowly done in the normal temperature of a closed room for about six or seven days. Then they are brought out of the room and heated in the sun. On the figures thus heated the colour coats are given and the main work of coloring is done before firing in the kiln. The whole work of coloring is done by women from natural colours prepared from clay.

The natural earths (clay) are generally of three types.(1) Khadigad, looks white like chalk (2) Bhalogad, looks yellowish, glazy and oily and (3) Banak, looks brownish, oily and glazy. These earths produced from natural resources, are powdered and dissolved in water. The ingredients are placed in earthen vessels for about two or three months, while testing the water and sifting the sediment of sand from time to time. The residual portion is thickened into pigment under sun and preserved for coloring. The three kinds of pigments, khadigad, Bhalogad and Banak are mixed with water and applied one after another on the pot and animal figures. Firing is done after coloring.

The terracotta horses and elephants of Bankura are turned out in two different shapes. The normal terracotta red color is obtained by letting out the smoke through the vents of the kiln after firing, and the black color, by sealing the vents and not letting out the smoke.