Clay Figurines:
The Threatened Craft

Heritage craft of Lucknow, India needs patronage, preservation.

The Kumbhar community in India’s Lucknow city has earned it’s livelihood from making clay figurines for over 3 centuries. The figurines are modeled on subjects that the artisans see in and around their own community: Sadhus of the Kumbh Mela, tourists, policemen, brides, musicians etc. As a local, Ajeet Bahadur, the correspondent of this video has always found it very interesting that none of these artisans are formally trained in sculptures and yet make the figurines that have great finesse and aesthetic appeal. He feels that this is a part of the state’s heritage and must be supported.

He says, “The area where the artisans need support is supply of the raw material. The artisans collect clay from a specific area in the city. But now some real estate developers are controlling the area and they do not allow the artisans to take the clay. Since the artisans have to struggle to get clay, they are forced to make fewer figurines.”

The second problem that these artisans face is lack of local market. According to Ajeet this both these problems can be easily solved if there is more awareness about the art form in the state. Ajeet made this video as a small step towards creating this mass awareness and urges the viewers to spread the word further through their friends and known ones. He also feels that, the government has a role to play. For example, the state government is heavily promoting a local handicraft called the ‘chikan embroidery’. If the same support is extended to the miniature figurine artists, it will help the artisans not only to earn a livelihood, but also improve it.

Click here to watch more videos by Ajeet Bahadur

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