Stone Icon Carving of West Bengal

Stone Icon Carving of West Bengal


The karangas of Bankura and Sildah in Midnapur make a large variety of stone utensils from a local semi-soft grey stone of close grain. Different sizes and designs of cups, bowls, plates, and tumblers are finished on indigenous lathes operated by hand after their general shapes are roughly chiselled out of lumps of stone. Traditionally there were beautifully shaped and patterned soft stone moulds for cookies, fresh cheese, chhana, sweets, and amsatwa or cakes of dried mango juice. Flat plates with delicate floral patterns on them were made of stone by the karangas. The plates are still made but the floral designs are no longer there. Carved stone figures for temples and home shrines are made by the sutradhars of Dainhata village in Burdwan district. Sutradhar sculptors also worked in stone to carve panels and plaques for temples in Birbhum district, following the style of terracottas. The panels and plaques were carved in a local brick-red stone called phulpathar. Phulpathar temples are about 200 years old and the art was lost before the end of the 19th century. The karangas of Bankura and Sildah in Midnapur make a large variety of stone utensils from a local semi-soft grey stone of close grain. Different sizes and designs of cups, bowls, plates, and tumblers are finished on indigenous lathes operated by hand after their general shapes are roughly chiselled out of lumps of stone. Traditionally there were beautifully shaped and patterned soft stone moulds for cookies, fresh cheese, chhana, sweets, and amsatwa or cakes of dried mango juice. Flat plates with delicate floral patterns on them were made of stone by the karangas. The plates are still made but the floral designs are no longer there. Carved stone figures for temples and home shrines are made by the sutradhars of Dainhata village in Burdwan district. Sutradhar sculptors also worked in stone to carve panels and plaques for temples in Birbhum district, following the style of terracottas. The panels and plaques were carved in a local brick-red stone called phulpathar. Phulpathar temples are about 200 years old and the art was lost before the end of the 19th century. In the Susunia hills of Bankura district there are renowned archaeological sites with multiple stone articles which were made and used centuries ago. Weapons like axe, cutter, hamme have also been found. In this area the craft of stone carving is still present with utensils, utilitarian objects, sculptures of gods and goddesses, owls, horse and other objects being sculpted in white sand stone. The craftsmen of this area have received prestigious at both State and National levels, yet their livelihood continues to be at a unacceptable low level. There is lack of proper infrastructure, lack of financial aid and encouragement, lack of sponsors and minimal guidance for marketing and a ban on quarrying the rocks with National level awardees shifting to wood carving or other occupations, while many craftspeople have migrated to other States.

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