Photo Essay

From obscurity to prominence.

Kolkata is a traditionally potters' quarter (previously known as Calcutta), the capital of the East Indian state of West Bengal. By virtue of their artistic productions these potters have moved from obscurity to prominence. This Kolkata neighborhood, not only supplies clay idols of Hindu gods and goddesses in Kolkata and its neighborhoods, but a number of idols are exported. It is one of the seven wonders in Kolkata.

Here I have tried picturing various steps and skills needed to structure such divine piece of art and culture.From a basic hay structure to making of molds and finally giving it the final touch of beauty and precision.

Images are generally ordered well in advance and there a few for off-the-shelf sale. Nowadays clientele has extended to America, Europe and Africa, among the Indian communities living there. In 1989,the famous Indian goddess "Durga", images were flown to Sweden, Australia, Malaysia and Nigeria. The images weighed only three kilograms each and were ideally suited for air travel

Most of the artisans living in the north Kolkata dwindled in numbers or even vanished, as they were pushed out of the area in the late nineteenth century by the invasion from Burrabazar, a commercial hub of traditional businessman. The potters who fashioned the clay from the river beside their home into pots to be sold managed to survive in the area. Gradually they took to making the images of gods and goddesses, worshiped in large numbers in the mansions all around and later at community in the city and beyond.

Now the world has steadily noticed the craft and skills of these artisans and prominence has finally showered its blessings on them in the form of God and Goddess.

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