‘Village of black horses’ left in the lurch courtesy COVID-19

‘Special art form’ status demanded for black horses. The artisans used to sell earthen black horses in local fairs and earn good money sufficient to meet the requirements of their families. However, their livelihood has been at stake after the imposition of coronavirus protocols and consequent ban on the social and religion festivals.

Balasore: COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the livelihood of potters of Gududapatna village under Remuna block in Balasore district. Preparing and selling earthen black horses has been the sole means of livelihood of the people of Gududapatna, known as ‘the village of black horses.’

The artisans used to sell earthen black horses in local fairs and earn good money sufficient to meet the requirements of their families. However, their livelihood has been at stake after the imposition of coronavirus protocols and consequent ban on the social and religion festivals.

‘Village of black horses’ left in the lurch courtesy COVID-19

The village, around 12km from Balasore headquarters town, comprises of 70 potters families, almost all of them deftly prepare earthen black horses that used to be much in demand in the locality till coronavirus induced lockdowns were imposed.

These little earthen wonders have both religious and aesthetic significance. Devotees believe that offering earthen black horses to deities fulfils their wishes. These earthen materials adorn every house of this village and neighbouring villages as a mark of their aesthetic sense and belief in spirituality.

‘Village of black horses’ left in the lurch courtesy COVID-19

According to the potters, despite aesthetic significance and high demand, these products are neither recognised as a form of terracotta art, nor any special form of art. Balasore district administration in 2019 has adopted this village as ‘special art village’. However, no substantial measures have been taken to ensure that the artisans get proper training to upscale their creativity. Besides, no measure has been taken to secure their livelihood and provide them  with a proper market.

“While a terracotta artisan gets a good profit by selling his produce, a potter in this village fails to earn even half of it by selling these unique earthen products. We have been a demoralised lot, however, we have no option but stick to our traditional family occupation,” rued an elderly potter.

‘Village of black horses’ left in the lurch courtesy COVID-19

The artisans demanded that the government take immediate measures to create a proper market to sell these products and recognise these as a special form of art. They also demanded that they are given proper training to scale up their creativity to match the national and international standard.

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