Odisha: Stone carvers struggle to make ends meet
They infuse life into stones, but the stone carvers of Mayurbhanj district are struggling to make both ends meet.
BARIPADA: They infuse life into stones, but the stone carvers of Mayurbhanj district are struggling to make both ends meet. Stone carvers in Keshana, Adipur and Uttarposi villages in Sukruli area, about 135 km from Baripada headquarters town, are known for their art of crafting statues with granite and other stones. There was a time when statues of Buddha, carved out of black granite, were exported to Japan.
The times have changed now. Lack of patronage and proper marketing facilities have affected their livelihood. Their condition started deteriorating after the fall of Bhanja Kings in the district.
Battling all odds, nearly 300 families of these villages are still engaged in the traditional art form. The stone carvers claimed that the younger generation are not keen on retaining the age-old art form. They, in fact, are opting for other occupations.
According to artisans, the stone sculptors are forced to sell their artworks to middlemen at lower prices due to lack of marketing initiatives. They claimed that the State Government was not providing them with marketing support or insurance benefits.
Adding to their woes, the prices of raw materials have shot up. Artisans are often forced to refuse orders due to shortage of funds. “It is not easy to transport stones like muguni, bahulmal, khadi and kendumunda. These stones are brought from other States,” said Kati Singh, an artisan of Keshana village.
The artisans said the State Government should grant the status of craft village to their cluster of villages. “As tourists visit Similipal and Khiching, the declaration of these villages as craft villages will promote art and create a good marketing space,” the artisans said.
“In order to obtain fair price for our handicrafts, we have formed cooperative society in our villages. Unfortunately, the societies are not operating due to poor co-ordination among the artisans,” said Jitu, an artisan.
Another artisan, Pratap Giri, said it took him more than four months to create a statue of Ganesha. “The buyer gives anywhere between `12,000 and `15,000 for the same. But the amount is not sufficient considering the cost of labour,” Giri said.“We are forced to accept orders for lesser amounts in the absence of marketing facilities,” he added.