Shora, circular concave-shaped pottery, painted with floral patterns and animal motifs have become an integral element of Pahela Baishakh celebrations in recent years.
Demand for Shoras, therefore, also goes up during the folk festivals and Pahela Baishakh celebrations, while people show less interest towards the craft items for the rest of the year.
‘Decorated Shoras have become an integral element of Pahela Baishakh celebrations. Our students paint Shoras and sell those to raise funds for the Mangal Shobhajatra’, said Nisar Hossain, dean of faculty of fine arts of Dhaka University.
At other times of the year, decorated Shoras are bought by Hindu families who use the Shoras in rituals like Lakshmi Puja.
‘Shoras used for ritualistic purposes and in festivals are categorically different. Ritualistic Shoras are painted with faces and figures of gods and goddesses, while Shoras for festivals are painted with floral patterns and animal motifs using strong colours’, added Hossain.
Another pottery item, Shokher Hari, clay pot painted with images of folk motifs like plants, birds and others, is experiencing a sharp decline in demand due to lack of promotion.
‘Both painted Shoras and Shokher Hari are experiencing a sharp decline in demand due to lack of promotion’, said folk art researcher Firoz Mahmud.
Many of the artisans who have been involved with Shora painting and Shokher Hari making for generations are leaving their family traditions as they cannot earn enough by selling crafts.
‘We believe Shora painting will survive as a profession since Shoras painted with images of Hindu gods and goddesses are used in religious rituals by the Hindus. However, not many artisans are involved with Shora painting’, said Nisar Hossain.
Around 100 to 120 families across the country are involved with Shora painting, Hossain added.
On the other hand, Shokher Hari has seen a sharp fall in demand as people are preferring plastic and aluminum products. Due to the drop in demand for pottery items countless artisans making Shokher Hari gave up their family profession. Today, only one family led by artisan Sushanta Kumar Pal in Rajshahi is involved with Shokher Hari making.
Shokher Hari artisan Sushanta Kumar Pal said, ‘Making Shokher Hari is a time-consuming process. But we cannot make profit by selling it and that is why most potters have abandoned the profession’.
When asked whether there are any initiatives to promote these crafts, Bangladesh Folk Art and Crafts Foundation director Rabindra Gope said, ‘We facilitate artisans including those making Shoras and Shokher Hari. We invite them in our month-long fairs where they can sell their products and can create connections for further marketing’.
Artisans involved with Shora painting and Shokher Hari, however, thinks that the initiative by Bangladesh Folk Art and Crafts Foundation is not enough.
‘We need a regular market for our products. Otherwise, it is becoming difficult for us to pursue our family profession’, said Sushanta Kumar Pal.
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