Dhan Murti – Paddy Craft Art

Hari Krishna Nayak fixing a pair of spectacles on a Gandhi idol
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Dhan Murti or the art of making idols with de-husked paddy is an indigenous art of Orrisa that is seeing a revival of sorts after being on the brink of extinction.

At a recent craft and art showcase by the Dastkar Samelan Committee to bring forth art through the eyes of the Mahatma I met with a couple from Orissa that claims to be only one of the two families who practice the art of making idols from paddy husk.

Hari Krishna Nayak and Asha Nayak
Hari Krishna Nayak and Asha Nayak

Rice Wise

Associated with prosperity, spirituality and well-being, paddy is revered in rural India. In fact, I have seen several a thoran (door hanging) that is used on front doors of homes in South Canara district in Karnataka. However, I recently happened to come across or Dhaan Murti a paddy craft where idols are crafted using unhusked paddy. Dhaan means grain and Murti means idol and this is a craft that has its origins in tribal communities of Odisha especially in Balasore, Kalahandi, Korapat and Bolangir. Hari Krishna Nayak, 45 an artist from Korapat who has been practicing the art from his childhood says he is only one of the two families who are continuing the craft.

Asha Nayak making the paddy strings ready
Asha Nayak making the paddy strings ready

“I have been doing this since I was a child. This is a traditional art that was being forgotten and it was a person who came from outside who started doing it. That is when I felt that this was a craft that needed revival.” The art form primary uses unhusked rice grains and during the annual Diwali celebrations, idols of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Ganesha and made using the same and worshipped as well. Almost all households worship these idols. Apart from these idols, the craftsmen can also make the kind of idol you need and can work based on a reference image as well.

Read the full story that first appeared in The New Indian Express dated July 19, 2020 here:

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