Sherpai/Measuring Bowls of Birbhum, West Bengal

Sherpai/Measuring Bowls of Birbhum, West Bengal

Languishing Craft

Sherpai, Kunke or bowls for measuring rice are only made in Lokepur near Siuri in Birbhum district. The word is derived from ser referring to a unit of weight and pau which means a quarter in Hindi. The wood of mango, palm, sirish or shishu trees is carved to make the bowls; these are then embellished with riveted sheet brass decoration. Earlier the form was achieved by carving and sculpting with hand. However today it is done so by turning the bowls on a lathe machine. The wood is coloured black with the help of a few herbs, which are soaked in water for two days. The brass sheets before being riveted on the bowl are embossed with various patterns and motifs. Traditionally a set of twelve bowls were made to be extensively used in the households of well-to-do farmers. Due to losing their traditional market, these bowls are now used only for decorative purposes, rather than being used for their intended use. The bowls are shaped in such a manner that they can be aesthetically arranged one on top of the other according to size. This craft is considered as one of the languishing crafts.

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