Turning a lump of clay into a beautiful sculpture – a statue or an idol – is one of the most traditionally art form of India, predominantly, seen in the form of inscriptions, idols and architecture in temples of India. Shruti Chaturvedi and Himika Thaker share their conversation with Dalpatbhai and Jiviben, who are into the business of idol-making for last 17 years.
“I don’t think she will participate in this conversation with you; women of our side don’t speak much”, says Dalpatbhai pointing to his wife, Jiviben.
They belong to Bavri community from Rajasthan. Dalpatbhai’s forefathers migrated to Gujarat and started the business of bullocks. However, they couldn’t keep up with the pace of technology revolution India went through.
“They couldn’t predict that tractors would soon take over bullocks in farms”, he says. Dalpatbhai learnt the art of making idols from his neighbors and friends .He began working under established businessmen who exported sculpture to West.
“I had learnt the intricacies of the art as well as the business in a few years”. Dalpatbhai took his leap of faith and started manufacturing idols on his own along with his wife.
“Like any business, we needed finance. I didn’t have a permanent residence proof, hence no one was ready to give us loans easily. We gave away our jewelry in exchange of loan at 4% interest”
Being an artisan without any umbrella manufacturer takes more than Dalpatbhai had thought.
“Ye jo tum log MBA mein sikhte ho, hum woh sab karte hai.”
“Like any business, we need finance. No one gives us loan because we don’t have a permanent residence. We give away our jewelry and get loan at 4% interest. We get our raw material from Bhavnagar and Bhuj. Usually, big artists get raw material and sell it to small ones like us. Its a rule of our community, we don’t make profit from our brothers. We get coconut hay from Hyderabad. Its cheaper than compared to what we get from Sabarkantha. Making the filling mixture and that of Plaster of Paris needs expertise, and so does making the chest, head, back, stomach and other parts of a sculpture. So we outsource these jobs to different people.
We have our inventory, procurement, financial planning and HR policies. Now I will do my marketing and will ask you to please publish my story and ask people to buy Ganpati murti from me during Chaturthi”, says Dalpatbhai as he finishes filling a Ganesha head.
“Everyone in our community have their expertise in their individual field. But that art is nothing in bits and pieces. A combination of these expertise makes up art. Art is not just one person doing everything, atleast it our case.”
Location: Gulbai Tekra, Ahmedabad