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The craftsman who moulds art out of cow dung

Vinayagar statues and nameplates are the most sought-after products, said organic farmer, P. Ganesan

September 25, 2022 08:49 pm | Updated September 26, 2022 08:56 am IST - MADURAI

Artisan P. Ganesan displays his artefacts made out of cow dung at the Ahimsa Santhai being held at Gandhi Museum in Madurai.

Artisan P. Ganesan displays his artefacts made out of cow dung at the Ahimsa Santhai being held at Gandhi Museum in Madurai. | Photo Credit: G. Moorthy

Generating wealth out of waste is a universal concept, though only a few walk the talk. An organic farmer, P. Ganesan of Perungamanallur in Peraiyur Taluk near Madurai, saw the wealth that could be made out of the dung from native cow breeds he owns.

“I was left with a lot of cow dung even after using it as fertiliser on my nine-acre organic farm. Eventually, I began making artefacts using the cow dung and its urine five years ago,” he said.

Making Vinayagar idols came naturally to him, and toying around with the raw material paved way to flesh out pen and fruit stands, kumkum boxes, wall-hanging, chains with beads, lamps, plaques with intricately crafted swastik and Om, faces of Gods and Goddesses and many more.

The word spread quickly and he started getting customised orders even from outside the State. Vinayagar statues and nameplates are the most sought-after products, he said. The biggest ever the artisan has made is a six-feet tall Buddha statue using 30 kg of cow dung.

“Every piece of art is unique since I do not have a mould to mass produce, hence I handcraft every inch of them,” he beamed.

The artefacts bear the strong smell of cow dung and he said that he does nothing to do away with it. Pointing out to the board that mentions the medicinal components of the microbial content rich cow dung, he said that smearing cow dung to keep houses safe – free of diseases – is an age-old practice and his craft was a step forward to revive it. It was a way of incorporating traditional values with the current aesthetics.

Mr. Ganesan works all through the year except during monsoon season. “Humid conditions favour the growth of worms in the dung and even leads to breaking of the piece. Though it takes about an average of six hours for me to craft a piece, the production spans over twenty days, perfected in stages,” he noted.

When asked if he had patented his art, he recalled that a professor at Madurai Kamaraj University took steps to realise it a couple of years ago but it tailed off. “When I say, I am happy with the artist in me, I speak for my customers as well who love my products, which is even a greater joy than a patent,” he smiled.

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