Keonjhar: The nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the already-struggling sculptors deeper into trouble in Dhakotha village of Keonjhar district.
The art itself was dying a slow death as there has been a drastic reduction in people taking up sculpting as an occupation primarily due to the unavailability of raw materials as the state government had enforced various restrictions on extraction of stones combined with the nonchalant attitude of the state government towards promoting the traditional occupation.
And now this lockdown has added further misery.
With the markets closed, there are no buyers even for those few crafts readied before the announcement of the lockdown.
The stone craft of Dhakotha village in the district is a rare heritage art form. While the sculptors of this village were already struggling to make a living, the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown in the country have put the last nail in the coffin.
“Owing to poor revenue, many artisans have switched to daily-wage labour. We are continuing in the profession due to our unending bond and love for the stone,” said Subash Khillar of Dhakotha village.
“It takes at least one week to 10 days to ready a craft depending on its design. And it is painful when we fail to find buyers for our work,” added Khillar.
The craftsmen of the village believe that they have inherited the treasure from their ancestors who for centuries have been involved in making sculptures of various Gods and Goddesses, temple architecture and entry gates.
The craftsmen of this village also go outside the state to give traditional touch in hotel, temple and bunglow construction works.
In 1980, the Odisha government had given a special recognition to the work of Dhakotha village sculptors.
“We need urgent intervention from the government for our survival as well as for our art. It should not be a big issue for the government as only a few dozens of people are still in this profession,” said sculptor of the village.
When asked, Anandpur Sub-collector Rabindra Sahoo in this regard said that the government has not declared any financial assistance for the sculptors yet.
“We will surely facilitate the sculptors with financial help if the state government will release any package for them”, added Sahoo.