In a village of artists – Dokra from Odisha

The winter chill was in the air and we had set off from Bhubaneswar, after a heavy Indian breakfast, for a tribal village near Dhenkanal, called Sadei Berani, famous for Dokra creations. The journey had tugged at my heart strings as it would be retracing a journey taken long ago with friends from school for a day long picnic at Sapta Sajya.

After leaving the hullaballoo and development of the city, I was immediately transported to memories of long ago and the almost unchanged scenery aided and created a pleasant stupor. The roads were better and the journey faster and in a couple of hours, after a stop at a roadside place for piping hot tea, we found ourselves at Sadei Berani.

I was not prepared for what I saw for it was not comparable to my image of a village which was crafted from my ancestral village. This was a small hamlet comprising only of a few families, clustered together around a newly constructed concrete road. Some of them had been recipients of Government schemes that had allowed them to construct still to be completed pukka homes, and so they continued to live in small adobe huts with mud walls, windows with bars created with twigs and a sack-cloth providing privacy at the doorway. The entire hamlet seemed to be outside the homes, leading an unhurried life at a leisurely pace. Children played, dogs slept ; there was a general sense of peace and calm that forbade us to hurry. In each home, we found the ancient, rustic art of Dokra, which uses wax-casting technique to create simple yet resplendent statuettes of bell metal. The motifs range from animals to gods and goddesses to elements of simple tribal lives. They opened their heart and hearth for us to see and we got swept back to a way of living that has remained unchanged for more than a century.

There were a few areas where modernity had been heeded; there was a bank in the town nearby, a couple of bicycles and even a motorbike, a few pukka houses. However, for most of the part, it was as if time had stopped and life was a simple journey. The splendour of the bell metal castings, glinting in the sun, hit the eye; and maybe that’s why there was a little moistness in the eyes as I stepped back into the car and journeyed back into the city lights. I didn’t feel the winter chill so much, for my heart was wreathed in a warm glow.

2 thoughts on “In a village of artists – Dokra from Odisha”

  1. Written with so much love n care,Your deepest thoughts n feelings for Your ancestral place,the tribal village n those People,spill over from Your heart to here and We land up in the same.We too perhaps,see,touch n feel the place through Your words n know about this Rustic Craftsmanship,the hands creating the beautiful statuettes of Dokra art.A beautiful read,indeed.

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