For centuries, this village in Kolar district has been a cradle for sculpture as it fostered the skills of those who came in search of artistic knowledge. However, in the past decade or so, the eminence of Shivari Pattana seems to be fading owing to competition from artisans who learnt the art from here and migrated in search of greener pastures.
Families of sculptors, which have produced State and national award winners, have been hit by the dwindling demand for sculptures from foreigners.
More than half of the village’s 300 and odd families are involved in making idols and statues from granite, white stone and marble.
“Several sculptors, who learnt their skills in Shivari Pattana, are violating traditional norms to cater to the demand for quick delivery of products. They are also underquoting prices and taking away our customers,” S.M. Kumar, a veteran sculptor, said. The business has obviously come down in the last 10 years, he says.
Mr. Kumar said: “According to our tradition, any idol above two ft tall should be completed in not less than nine months and it should not be seen by any one until it is complete. There is no restriction for those which are less than two ft tall. However, to make quick money, sculptors are finishing idols according to the schedule fixed by customers.” Incomplete idols were being sold too.
Another sculptor said the idols were being prepared in a hurry mainly to cater to foreign customers, who do not wish to wait for a long time. “They charge less to get more customers,” he said.
According to Rajashekar Charya, the demand for sculptures was pretty good even a few years ago. “We have also had many people learning the art from us and then going back to start businesses on their own. There are a few places like Mahabalipuram where it is still a flourishing business,” he said.
Despite the problems the village residents faced, they want to continue with the legacy of their ancestors. Some are purely passionate about it, while others feel it is their duty to continue what their forefathers started.
Shankara Charya (67) said: “Sculpting is an ancestral and traditional profession and rather than saying that we don’t earn enough from it, I would say we are happy to be deeply involved in it as a profession. We have, and always will, follow in their footsteps because it has religious significance for us, and more importantly, gives us satisfaction.”
Unfortunately, most of them haven’t had the opportunity to complete their education and therefore, cannot seek other jobs.
Twenty-one-year old Manjunath had to discontinue his studies after PUC due to a financial crisis in his family. He started doing odd jobs at a very early age, and says that his talent and passion for sculpting is not enough to sustain his entire family. “I wish I hadn’t given up my education to pursue sculpting. I am now stuck with odd jobs which don’t pay me enough and doesn’t even promise me security.”