Friday, May 8, 2009

Bankura's horses

The logo of All India Handicrafts is the Bankura Horse. These horses display the skill and craftsmanship of Bengal. A pair of terracotta horses in a corner of a room adds class to any Bengali living room. These horses are not just decorative artifacts, but they also display the skill and craftsmanship of Bengal. Tracing back to the history of the terracotta sculptures, we land up in the land of red earth, the district of Bankura in West Bengal. The Malla rulers of Bengal played an active role in developing the intricate works of terracotta over the years.
In 1655 they built Jor Bangla and Shyam Rai in 1640, which reflect the Vaishnav culture. Terracotta figurines of animals and birds along with geometric panels and historical depiction of the love between Radha and Krishna were the subjects of these architectural splendours. After 300 yrs the structures are still as it were before because of the scientific methods used in building it.
Bengal clay pottery can be divided into two segments-Bankura Clay Pottery and Krishnanagar Clay Pottery. Bankura's art form is an ancient form than the art form of Krishnanagar. It was the Kumbhokars or potters of Panchmura, 16 miles away from Bishnupur, who started to make the famous Bankura horses. If looked closely it will be noticed that the Bankura horses have more erect neck and ears and look more dynamic. Their jaws are wider, their set of teeth can be seen, eyebrows are drawn and their forehead is decorated with Chandmala.
Making of the Horses:
The 4 hollow legs of the horse is first made followed by the torso and then the neck and the head. All these parts are separately made and then glued together. On drying they are coloured and burnt in the kiln. These horses are of different sizes ranging from 6 inches to 4 feet. Biboda, Kamardiha, Bishnupur, Jaikrishnapur, Nakaijuri, Keyaboti are some of the places were terracota horses are made regularly.
Horses used for Puja:
Horses made in Sendra are worshiped. These horses are not hollow but solid. Bankura's folk deity Dharmaraj is another form of Sun God and mythologically it is known that Sun God is the rider of horses. Thus horses form an important part of all rituals while performing puja. Besides terracota these artistic horses have been casted in dokra and wood because of the growing demand.
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