From dainty human figures to large ones, from animals to motifs of religious rituals, these art pieces bear the signature of inherent artistic skills as the artists are traditionally practising the art form since generations without any formal training. The demand has shifted and so has the craft. Today, they are making idols of gods and godesses and celebrities, popular cartoon characters, model villages, vehicles etc. Some of the craftspersons are engaging themselves in stone sculpture and fibreglass models because those are easy to mould and the products are durable. Apart from these, fruits, vegetables and different models of deities are very popular.
The traditional clay dolls undergo many interim process before taking final shape.
As a first step, the craftspersons prepare the clay and process it as desired and dumps it for at least one night to make it ready for the mould.
Next important step is drying of the models. Dolls are usually kept in the open to be dried under sunlight. Sometimes, hand blower is also used for the same.
Once the clay dolls are fully dried, they are placed in a furnace for 4 to 5 hours at 500 degree centigrade.
The doll is then earnestly painted with vibrant colours. The most vital thing is giving the eyes and facial expressions of the dolls. Unique colouring pattern of Krishnanagar clay dolls deserves much appreciation in the world of dolls. After that, kerosene added to burnish is used to increase the brightness. The special technique, that brings brightness to the dolls actually help them to achieve fame and awards on state, national and international level.
The steps of Clay Doll making
The clay dolls of Ghurni are famous and known to all for their beautiful, lively structures and vibrant colours. Like everything else in Krishnanagar, the clay dolls too are associated with Maharaja Krishna Chandra. According to local belief, while fleeing from Mir Kasim’s custody, the Maharaja on his escape route through the river was instructed to pay homage to a local deity in his dreams. To build the idol of the goddess, he brought the doll makers from Natore, now in Bangladesh and settled them in Ghurni of Krishnanagar. The story, however, does not find any historical evidence, though there is no denying the fact that the crafts persons of this area historically made idols of gods and goddesses.
The exquisite craftsmanship of artisans earned recognition from the British royality like Queen Victoria as well as other authorities from the British Raj. The first rewarded artist was Sri Ram Paul (1819 - 1885) who was followed by many artists of this tradition earning recognition from home and abroad.