Terracotta Fashion in Odisha

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Story by Insha Zarine Sayeed and Kanhu Charan Gouda

Bhubaneswar, Oct 26: The Annual Terracotta Exhibition kicked off with its inauguration ceremony witnessing a huge footfall of Odiyas and a number of Tourists. 20th of October was its first day and on that very day it experienced a huge visitors. Smt Snehangini Chhuria, the hon’ble Minister of handlooms, Textiles and Handicrafts, Odisha inaugurated the fair, Mruttika-16 as the Chief Guest. Smt. Chitra Arumugam, IAS, the Commisioner-cum-Secretary to Govt, handlooms, Textiles and Handicrafts Department, Odisha graced the event as the Guest of Honour. Seeing this huge ambience and splendid response from the tourists thus showcasing their unconditional love and affection towards cultural heritage of Odisha, I decided to pen down a feature on the importance and impact of Terracotta designs in Odisha covering all its perspectives.

To provide a platform for marketing of the products of the clusters and individual artisans, this exclusive craft specific exhibition in terracotta has been organized by the Directorate of Handicrafts and Cottage Industries since 2006. 65 stalls have been erected and nearly 130 artisans have participated in the exhibition from various districts. It is expected to attain a business turnover of Rs80, 000 lakhs during this event.

Odisha is considered as land of handicrafts which is an integral part of our cultural heritage. As many as 50 different crafts have been approved by the Govt of Odisha which is practised by more than 1.30 lakh artisans in varied degrees and are dispersed throughout the state. The state has got best craftsmanship with 159 artisans honored with National and State Level awards.

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“Terracotta and Pottery” is one of the approved crafts of the state mostly practiced by the traditional Kumbhakars and trained youths almost in every district. There are more than 10,000 terracotta artisans in the state who are producing traditional, decorative and utility terracotta-based items. Some of the focused terracotta craft pockets are Sonepur, Barapalli, Haldharpur, Nuagaon, Lunukua and Kusumi etc.

Artisans from Bolangir, Dhenkanal, Bargarh, Keonjhar and Cuttack have shared with us their thoughts, hardships and experience and love for Terracotta and how have they converted this into their profession for their livelihood. It is very rare to see people making their passion as their aim and converting it into their career. But these artisans have proved to do so and so seeing this dedication the government has led its hand out as an instrument of support so that these artisans fulfill their dreams. One such artisan heading from Bolangir showed his exquisite collection of diyas which had been crafted especially for Diwali. His name was Sudhamayee Sai. He has been engrossed in this profession from the last six years. Every year he has a huge profit as all his craft work ranging from Rs 2 to Rs 2000 having terracotta makings are being sold out. He also informed us that the government gives these artisans 6 month training free of cost so that they become more professionally talented in this. Another artisan belonged to Keonjhar. His cravings were mainly angry birds, diyas, floating turtle and floating fish. His name was Kapil Chandra Rana. His story also had the same lookout. In order to run his family and earn livelihood he took up this as his profession. Also his involvement in terracotta is from the last 2-3 years. An NGO has also displayed their terracotta designs in one stall where they were only women who were the artisans because according to them a woman’s hand is more polished for such cravings and designs than that of a man’s. They were from Cuttack district divided into three groups of women. All these artisans travel around the country to display their designs and avail their income. They would be next seen in Balijatra which is scheduled to be held in Cuttack.

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Govt of Odisha in Handlooms, Textiles and Handicrafts Department is providing promotional supports for growth of the handicraft sector including market assistance by organizing exhibitions. Various needs based interventions are provided to the individuals, SHGs, Cooperative Societies and apex bodies for capacity building, skill up-gradation training, supply of improved tools and equipment, providing bank linkage, infrastructure development, product designing and diversification, marketing assistance to participate in different exhibitions etc. in order to produce market-oriented products, design development programmes engaging designers from inside and outside the state are conducted in clusters to create wide range of products. Online Marketing has been introduced through “Utkalika” for marketing of handicraft products.

A Design Cell is established at Handicrafts Complex (SIDAC), Gandamunda, Bhubaneswar with technical support of NID to provide regular design input. A Regional handicraft Training and Design Centre has been established at Balasore for providing design-led training to artisans. Besides, CFCs have been established at Khandagiri and Gandamunda to provide support for mass production, quality control and top class framing.

Thus, the brass work, silver work, terracotta art objects, and applique work are very unique examples of artistic excellence.

 

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