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Breathing life into the Goddess

In the first decade of the 18th century most of Calcutta was still a jungle. Amidst the swamps and paddy fields lived fishermen who set up small markets on raised patches of land called dehis. The city of Calcutta covers an area once occupied by three villages. To the north were the villages of Sutanuti and Dihi, while to the south was the village of Govindapur where the British established Fort William. Sutanuti was probably a cotton market and made rapid progress with Burrabazar at its centre supplying the British with provisions. As the British East India Company grew it attracted the services of wealthy Bengali businessmen. Holwell, an agent of the Company, divided the steadily-growing town into a number of quarters named according to the business conducted in each quarter. It is at this time that we hear of Kumartuli or the quarter (tola) of the potters (kumars). These kumars or potters have been engaged in the business of making the clay images of the multitude of Gods and Goddesses that we worship through generations. The tradition of clay image making in West Bengal probably has its origins in a medival village tradition but it was during the 18th and the 19th century that clay image making became established as the distinctive feature of Bengali culture that is seen today. Bengal specializes in preserving this age old tradition. Unmatched skills come to limelight during the festive season of Durga Puja

Breathing life into the Goddess Breathing life into the Goddess Reviewed by gargi niyogi on August 27, 2013 Rating: 5

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