straw sculpture

A Creative Industry

Before their brief but auspicious reigns in Calcutta's pandals, the idols are created by sculptors called futias in workshops all around the city. Within the complex traditions and rituals of the Durga Puja, there are many rules and customs to be observed, honored, and repeated. But there is also much room for individual expression and creativity.

The basic method of executing the sculpture uses old--techniques lend themselves not only to create the effect desired by the futia also to facilitating the sculptures' mythic qualities as their very substance comes from, and is returned to, the Ganges.

The construction of most sculptures follows this basic progression, or recipe:

  1. make basic parts by binding straw and bamboo
  2. tie together parts to form skeletons
  3. mix clay and "paddy husk" and layer onto skeleton
  4. final layer of pure Ganges clay
  5. dry, fill cracks with more clay
  6. polish with wet clay for smooth finish
  7. paint, dress and decorate

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