‘Panchaloha’ bust of Gen. Rawat to honour memory

An artisan works on the clay bust of the late Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat in Kumbakonam.

An artisan works on the clay bust of the late Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat in Kumbakonam.

A panchaloha bust of the country's first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, who died in a helicopter crash in Coonoor on December 8, is taking shape in Kumbakonam as a tribute by ex-servicemen from Cuddalore district.

A three-foot high clay model of the statue made by a team of five sthapathis – traditional sculptors trained in the art of metal and stone work used in temples – was unveiled to the media by Shine Indian Soldiers Social Welfare Foundation, which is executing the tribute along with the support of ex-servicemen in the district.

“We felt that a panchaloha bust would be the best way to honour the memory of General Rawat and his service to our nation. There are many statues of political leaders in our country. This will be among the rare ones for someone from the armed forces. It will be an inspiration for young people too,” S. Babu of the Cuddalore-based foundation told The Hindu.

The statue, which was expected to be delivered in early February and costs an estimated Rs. 2 lakh to 7 lakh, would be first taken to Thillai Natarajar Temple in Chidambaram for a prayer ceremony. “If we are given permission, we plan to take a road trip from Cuddalore to Delhi, stopping in eight States along the way. We hope to hand over the statue to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the end of the journey,” he said. “General Rawat’s bust will be displayed in an open-top vehicle for the duration of the trip.”

The clay bust was sculpted using photographs as reference, said A. Ramkumar, whose company Ramasamy Sthapathi Sirpasalai in Kumbakonam was involved in the project. “I accepted the offer immediately because it is a matter of great pride to be associated with such a great personality as General Rawat. This is a two-month process; we will use the clay model to create Plaster of Paris figure, and then add the finer details of the general’s uniform and medals in wax, following which we will cast the statue in the five-metal alloy.”

The final product was expected to weigh around 150 kg.

Mr. Ramkumar, who is a third-generation sthapathi , trained under his father (and national award winner) R. Arunajadeswara from the age of 19 years. His grandfather, Ramasamy, won a national award for his craft in 1951.

“It has been difficult to carry our work during lockdown because of the steep rise in prices of raw materials. Copper, for example, has gone up from Rs. 550 per kilo two months ago to Rs. 850 per kilo today. The panchaloha alloy contains 85% copper. Tin, zinc and nominal quantities of gold and silver are added according to the traditional method,? Mr. Ramkumar added.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 5:28:03 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/panchaloha-bust-of-gen-rawat-to-honour-memory/article38308006.ece