Category Archives: Bankura

Terracotta art of Bengal : music and dance depictions

       The music of India is highly developed and a sophisticated product of an ancient culture. Lord Shiva’s mystic dance symbolises the rhythmic motion in the universe. Music is sound in rhythm. Goddess Saraswati is represented as the goddess of art and learning and is seen sitting on a white lotus with a veena in one hand and playing it with another, a book in the third hand and a necklace of pearls in the fourth hand. Sage Bharata is believed to have taught the arts to apsaras, the heavenly dancers. Narada muni who wanders both on earth and heaven playing his veena taught the art to men. In Indra’s heaven, Gandharvas are the singers , apsaras are the dancers, and the centaur-like beings the Kinnaras play musical instruments. Gandharva veda means the art of music.

      A very wide variety of musical instruments were used in Vedic times, both percussion and stringed. The ordinary drum was the dundhubi. Adambara, bhumi dundhubi were others. Aghati was a cymbal which accompanied dancing. The kandaveena was a kind of lute, karkari, another kind of lute, vana , a lute of 100 strings and the veena. The veena is suitable to all types of Indian music. Indian stringed instruments include the veena, an instrument which consists of a large bowl, hollowed out of one piece of wood. The flat top of this bowl is one foot in diameter. A bridge is placed on the bowl and near it are anumber of small sound holes. The veena is played using finger nails or using a plectrum. Sitar, dilruba,esraj,ektara are other stringed instruments. Sarangi, surbahar are also stringed instruments. Kinnari is a primitive Indian instrument supposed to have been invented by Kinnara , one of the musicians in Indra’s heaven. It has representation in sculpture and paintings. It has 2-3 strings, sound is not very strong.

    Sculptures of many musical instruments exist on old cave temples and Buddhist stupas.  Amaravati  and Sanchi depict many such sculptures.  Music and dance have been depicted in the terracotta sculptures in the late medieval temples of Bengal as well. Showcased below are two temples; the Madan-mohana temple  at Bishnupur and the Hangseswari  temple complex at Hooghly, both in West Bengal.

    The Madana-mohana temple built by Maharaja Durjana Singh Deva is a ekratna, having a single spire on a plinth with a portico in the centre. It is dedicated to Lord Krishna as the name suggests. There are two magnificent pillars at the entrance with ornate terracotta sculptures. The pillars  depict scenes from the Ramayana and scenes from Lord Krishna’s life from his cowherd days. One can find musician and dancer depictions here. The dancers are in different poses and the musicians are seen playing instruments.  Floral designs are seen between the human sculptures as rows adding a sense of  balance.The scenes are full of vitality, joy and convey a celebration of life !

File:A temple in India, Madana-Mohana Temple, Bishnupur.jpg

Madana-Mohana Temple, Bishnupur,Bankura,West Bengal.

By Abhijit Kar Gupta (Flickr: Madana-Mohana Temple, Bishnupur – I) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Musicians and dancers, Madana-mohana Temple, Bishnupur, Bankura,West Bengal.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kgabhi/8386174380/

    The Hangseswari temple at Hooghly has a very interesting history and architecture. The area of Bansberia next to the River Ganges, in Hooghly district was gifted to a zamindar Rameshwar Ray by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb along with the title of  Raja in 1673. He settled down there along with his family. His kin continued to stay there.  The area came to be known as  the Royal Estate. The temple  was started to be built by Raja Nrisinhadeb Ray from late 18th century  and completed by his wife Rani Shankari  in 1814 and dedicated to a form of Goddess Kali, Hangseswari.  The deities of both Shiva and Shakti are present. The temple has thirteen spires and five stories which represent the ida, pingala, Bajraksha, Sushumna and chitrini of the human body parts according to Tantric texts. The king had studied the system of kundalini during his stay at Varanasi and decided to build a temple according to the concept. Marble was brought from Chunar near Varanasi for use in the temple. The spires represent blooming lotus buds; a metallic idol of the  Sun-God is inscribed on the top of the central spire. The inner structure of the building follow the design of the human anatomy.  The temple complex also has the Ananta-Basudeba temple and the Swanbhaba Kali temple, built by Raja Nrisinhadeb Ray in 1788. Both are terracotta temples and have exquisite sculptures on them.

Hanseswari Mandir - East View - Bansberia Royal Estate - Hooghly - 2013-05-19 7547.JPG

Hangseswari temple, Hooghly, West Bengal.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Dancers, Rasmancha, Hangseshwari temple, Hooghly,West Bengal.
Source : wikivisually.com/wiki/Hangseshwari_temple
Ananta Basudeba Temple1.JPG
Ananta-Basudeb temple, Hooghly, West Bengal.
By Amartyabag (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Part of the entrance wall.JPG
Carvings, Ananta-Basudeb temple, Hooghly, West Bengal.
By Kinkiniroy2012 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21683542
 
Terracotta Panel, Ananta-Basudeb temple, Hooghly, West Bengal.
 
Terracotta Panel, Ananta-Basudeb temple, Hooghly, West Bengal.

References :

  • Terracotta art of Bengal/Biswas,S.S,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,1981.
  • Bengal temples/Dutta, Bimal Kumar , New Delhi : Mushiram Manoharlal,1975.
  • wikipedia.org
  • journeymart.com
  • chitolekha.com

 

 

Posted by:

Soma Ghosh

© author

 

 

Bankura horse : icon of terracotta art of Bengal

 

         A horse is an animal who represents energy and movement, known to man for ages. The horse is a companion and a useful animal for various purposes and has been used extensively to drive chariots, carts and as the Cavalry Force along with its rider in battles of yore. Swift and reliable, the horse is revered and there have been many famous horses known to have even saved their riders life. Such is their loyalty.   In Bankura district of West Bengal the horse is depicted as an art object with some ornamentation.  This Bankura horse has become an iconic symbol of Bengal art . The Government of India uses it in its logo for All india Handicrafts. Such is the magic of the horse depiction. It is found at many homes across India and abroadin drawing rooms and gardens. The presence of the Bankura horse immediately livens the space. Made of terracotta or burnt clay, the horse is either mud-brown or black in colour. Elephants are also made by the craftsmen or karigar, but the horse has got more prominence and popularity. The Bankura horse is produced mostly  in the Panchmura village of Bankura district. The other places where the kumbhakars or  potters make this horse along with other depictions like the elephant are Rajagram,Sonamukhi and Hamirpur. Also at Biboda,Kamaridha,Bishnupur,Jaikrishnapur,Nakaijuri and Keyaboti. The popularity of the icon has led to its being made in metal and wood.

File:Horse clipart.svg

 

Horse, animal known for its swiftness and energy, graphic depiction, 21st century.

By warszawianka [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

          The history of the Bankura horse is interesting. It was initially used at village rituals as a symbolic sacrifice. This is done to appease village Gods and Goddesses for fulfillment of wishes. The horses stand tall and erect with lively long ears. They wear the Chandmala on the forehead. The horses made for worship are usually not hollow but solid.  Dharmathakur who is also believed to be a form of Hindu God Surya rides on a seven-horse chariot.

Surya.png.jpg

 

Lord Surya, painting by Raja Ravi Varma, 19th century.

By Raja Ravi Varma – http://barodaart.com/oleographs-mythological.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42516128

      The brick and terracotta temples of Bengal built during the 17th and 18th century depict animals, birds and humans along with floral and geometric patterns as part of the temples as plaques or medallions and also as narratives on the walls of the temples, of  the epics, the Puranas, Radha-Krishna and everyday scenes reflect the expertise of the artists and the refined taste of the patrons.

     The horses are made by the use of a tool called the ucha, a semi circular piece of bamboo. Balya is a stone tool, used for beating, also pitna, a wooden beater. Bamboo Chiari is used for decorating the figures.The potters wheel and kiln are also used. The parts of the horse or elephant are made separately on the wheel and later joined to from the horse. The ears and tails are made in moulds and fixed on the body on grooves. The figures are kept to dry a bit in the sun, then kept inside to dry fully and again heated outside and then the figures are coloured with natural colours. The pigments are mixed with water and applied. The colours are fixed in the kiln.

File:Bishnupur Terracotta Horse 3.JPG

Bankura horses and elephants,terracotta,21st century.

By Amartyabag (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons                                        

File:Artist, maker unknown, Bengali - Kantha (Embroidered Quilt) - Google Art Project.jpg

Kantha embroidery on quilt with a horse depiction, 19th century.

By Artist/maker unknown, Bengali – Artist/Maker (Bengali) Details of artist on Google Art Project [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

References :

  • Terracotta art of Bengal/Biswas,S.S,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,1981.
  • wikipedia.org
  • webindia123.com

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author