While in Kolkata (Calcutta), we took an amazing tour with a guide named Shubo. Or was it Shabu? Shibo? Anyway, he was amazing! He knew absolutely everything about Kolkata, so if anyone is planning a trip to Kolkata let me know and I'll pass along his info.
One of the places he took us to was the Potters’ Colony where artisans make all of the clay Hindu idols for the various religious holidays. We probably saw 50 Kali's along with a few privately commissioned sculptures, including a 10-foot T-Rex. It was one of my favorite parts of our trip.
The sculptures are made in three stages: first, the overall shape is made out of straw, wood, and rope. Second, 3 layers of clay are applied and molded into the desired shape. Third, the sculptures are painted and dressed. The painting of the eyes is the very last step, and they have to be painted by a special artist because they believe the idols spirit enters when the eyes are painted on. It was so amazing to see all of these artisans making these beautiful Hindu idols. Everything is done by hand and mostly with natural biodegradable products (they used to throw them into the river after the festivals).
I was obsessed with the whole process, and was especially fascinated by the hair on the idols. Our tour guide Shubo told us that the hair was made out of jute, dyed with charcoal and molded around bamboo with a natural adhesive that set the hair with curls. It reminded me of styling synthetic wigs and some of the creations made by one of my favorite hairstylists Julien D'Ys.
graphics designed by becca clason