of All India Handicrafts is the Bankura Horse. These horses display the
skill and craftsmanship of Bengal.A pair of terracotta horses in a corner
of a room adds class to any Bengali living room. These horses are not
just decorative artifacts, but they also display the skill and craftsmanship
of Bengal. Tracing back to the history of the terracotta sculptures, we
land up in the land of red earth, the district of Bankura in West Bengal.
The Malla rulers
of Bengal played an active role in developing the intricate
works of terracotta over the years. In 1655
they built Jor Bangla and Shyam Rai in 1640, which reflect the Vaishnav
culture. Terracotta figurines of animals and birds along with geometric
panels and historical depiction of the love between Radha and Krishna
were the subjects of these architectural splendours. After 300 yrs
the structures are still as it were before because of the scientific methods
used in building it. Bengal
clay pottery can be divided into two segments-Bankura Clay Pottery and
Krishnanagar Clay Pottery. Bankura's art form is an ancient form than
the art form of Krishnanagar. It was the Kumbhokars or potters of Panchmura,
16 miles away from Bishnupur, who started to make the famous Bankura horses.
If looked closely it will be noticed that the Bankura
horses have more
erect neck and ears and
look more dynamic. Their jaws are wider, their set of teeth can be seen,
eyebrows are drawn and their forehead is decorated with Chandmala.
of the Horses: The 4
hollow legs of the horse is first made followed by the torso and then
the neck and the head. All these parts are separately made and then glued
together. On drying they are coloured and burnt in the kiln. These horses
are of different sizes ranging from 6 inches to 4 feet. Biboda, Kamardiha,
Bishnupur, Jaikrishnapur, Nakaijuri, Keyaboti are some of the
terracota horses are made regularly.
used for Puja:
Horses made in Sendra are worshiped. These horses are not hollow but solid. Bankura's
local God Dharmaraj is another form of Sun God and mythologically it is
known that Sun God is the rider of horses. Thus horses form an important
part of all rituals while performing puja. Besides terracota these artistic
horses have been casted in dokra and wood because of the growing demand.