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    8 pics: Shading light on the artisans of Kumartuli – Mural by AFZAN PIRZADE in Kolkata, India

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    Street Artist AFZAN PIRZADE

    By AFZAN PIRZADE in Kolkata, India for St+art India. Photos by Jay Upadhyay and Pratim Biswas.


    A previously non-descriptive wall is now a striking canvas for a looming mural dedicated to the artisans of Kumartuli.

    AFZAN PIRZADE: Kumartuli is a place that offers a unique dose of culture. The narrow maze of lanes and alleyways team with humanity, and gods and goddesses of various states of creation.

    Wandering through them and seeing the artists at work reveals a fascinating world within a world right in front of you. What’s pleasant to note is that the idols are made out if environmentally friendly materiel such as bamboo and clays. Most of the clays is brought by boat down the Hooghly river from the nearby village.

    The artisans start by making a bamboo frame for the idol, called a Latham. They bind straw over it to give it a structure, and then apply clay on it to give its final shape. After drying the statue in the sun for few days, they paint and decorate it.

    What’s particularly interesting is the ritual tradition of obtaining soil from a brothel and mixing it with the clay. It’s considered to be punya maati (blessed soil) collected from a nishiddho palli (forbidden territory).

    Apparently, according to one belief, when a man visits a brothel he leaves his purity and it settles into the soil there. Others say that the soil is used to respect the purity of the prostitutes soul, despite the profession they are engaged in.

    In Patuli, a quintessential Kolkata neighbourhood, a previously non-descriptive wall is now a striking canvas for a looming mural dedicated to the artisans of Kumartuli.


    This project started with an online campaign asking the people of Kolkata to donate a wall for a mural in the city, and of the city

    St+art India: In Patuli, a quintessential Kolkata neighbourhood, a previously non-descript wall is now a striking canvas for a looming mural. Created by St+art in partnership with Asian Paints, this project started with an online campaign asking the people of Kolkata to donate a wall for a mural in the city, and of the city. From amongst the entries received, St+art picked the exterior of the CESC substation in Patuli for its visibility as well as distinctiveness.

    The mural tells the story of artisans who craft the idols of Goddess Durga. It evokes the unparalleled excitement and joyous anticipation with which the city awaits the festivities of Durga puja every year. But even more significantly, it pays homage to these artisans who bring to life the very essence of the festivities but remain in the shadows themselves.



    Pune based artist, AFZAN PIRZADE, who was involved in the execution of the mural, spent time in the tiny, dimly-lit workshops of artisans in the narrow by-lanes of Kumartuli getting to know their process, their traditions, their trials and their tribulations. Assisted by Rohma, his time with them informed the design of the mural that celebrates often invisibilized artisans as well as Kolkata’s culture and spirit.

    Like with other projects undertaken by St+art, the mural in Patuli, Kolkata, also aims to reimagine urban design and democratise access to art by creating artworks in public spaces that draw from local communities and enrich them.

    This is the first in a series of 3 murals that St+art is working on in Kolkata, in partnership with Asian Paints. Watch this space for what is to come next.


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