Tamil Nadu

Carving a niche art on coconut shells

Winner of Chief Minister’s award, Sakthi Ganesh creates intricate sculptures on shells

As a child, M. Sakthi Ganesh used to cover the walls of his house in Thanjavur with scrawls. Instead of reprimanding him, his mother Prema encouraged his doodles. Little did he realise then that his childhood habit will help him carve out a niche art for himself that he could master and display later in life. His intricate carvings on coconut shells sell for Rs 40,000, and, recently, he won the best artiste award from Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami.

For Sakthi Ganesh, the process of miniaturisation involves no physical measurements. “Experience has taught me to maintain the correct proportion of the face, the body and other parts of a sculpture, all within the shell. I conceive everything in the mind and my hand completes the task,” he said. “Working on coconut shells is like handing glass articles. The slightest slip will destroy all the hard work,” said Sakthi Ganesh, who moved to Anjukiramam in Kanyakumari district a few years ago after his family fell on hard times.

Sakthi Ganesh, a self-taught artiste, works on themes on coconut shells and his Ashta Lakshmi and Ashta Bhairava cost ₹40,000 each.

“I also work on themes from Ramayana and Mahabharata and other religious and historical topics. It takes me a month to complete one piece,” said Sakthi Ganesh who also makes Thanjavur dolls and carvings on discarded woods and, in the process, converts waste into wealth.

Expanding horizons

L. Balu, Assistant Director, Office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), who spotted his talent and recommended him for the Chief Minister’s award, arranged to have him participate in the Union Ministry of Textiles’ exhibition, Textile India 2017, in Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat. There he got an opportunity to interact with international buyers.

While there is a great scope for export, he is not able to meet the demand, he says. Sakthi Ganesh is wary of outsourcing it to others, saying quality and finishing may suffer. He has plans to start a unit where he will train others and employ them.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 2:31:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/carving-a-niche-art-on-coconut-shells/article19520233.ece

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