Traditionally the craftspersons are specialised in making the wooden owls which are considered auspicious for homes as it is the 'vahana' or escort of the goddess Lakshmi. Apart from these, the craftspersons used to make ‘Rashiputul’ (figures of Radha-Krishna on a single block of wood), Durga, Laksmi, Saraswati, figures of the king, the queen, and of the owls.
Originally, the colours were mixed by the crafts persons themselves but now the colours are bought in the market. Earlier, even the top coat or varnish was made in the village. In fact, one can say that the entire production process was carried out by the villagers from scratch.
Nowadays, other wooden objects like statuettes of Radha-Krishna and dolls are being made. But the owl, with its unique design and colour, is the brand product of the village. On the white background of the owl is painted a distinctive design of red, green yellow and black lines. Now the artists make utility products and decorative items using the traditional items like owl, king and queen etc. They make furniture, lampshade, raja-rani cardholder, fusion furniture using traditional and Natungram style etc.
The process of making the craft is simple.
Initially the figures are first drawn on the blocks of wood and then chiseled out. However, the master craftsperson does not need the drawings. The finished products are very simple and attractive at the same time. The wood as per the size of the form to be made is cut from the block. The piece is cleaned and smoothened. Extra wood is chipped off according to the design. Fine strokes with the hammer are made on the chisel, which is placed on the area to be shaped.
Then the dolls are coated with fine layer of clay and then coated with white paint. The clay, mixed with adhesive, is applied to give a smooth finish to the dolls. Clay is also used to make the wings of the owl figures.
The painting starts with colouring various body parts. Next the dresses with specific designs are marked out by fine brush strokes. The facial features are added at the end. The men are skilled in the wood carving and the women do all the colour and clay work.
The steps of making Wooden Dolls
The craft gained immense popularity under the Bardhaman Maharaja. The traditional designs based on culture and mythology, the richness of ideas, the brilliant combination of pure simplicity and glamour combined with the master craftsmanship of the artisans, result in an amazing work of art.