'Mritraj' Predicts a Bright Future
love for their roots, Bangladeshis have always embraced clay
art with warmth. Nowadays people use clay items extensively
for their home decoration. It has become quite fashionable
to use clay pottery and sculptures in home décor. Terracotta
is also bringing a very classic tone to the houses of the
well-to-do. When it comes to talk clay art, Maran Chand Pal
is the foremost name in the country.
(Clay king) is written in bold letters in the clay made name
plate of Pal's house. This is his studio. He calls himself
'Mritraj', not out of vanity but to pay homage to clay.
in a traditional Pal family, Maran Chand learned the art of
clay from a very early age. He recalls the 60s when he and
his friends of the Pal families used to collect clay from
a river that ran through Rayer Bazar. He says, 'At that time,
the entire west Dhanmondi area and right up to the Mohammadpur
bus stand was a Kumar Palli." He regrets, 'Now
most of the families have moved away from this place and abandoned
their professions. Some don't even have any address.'
Chand is the last of the Pals of his family. He sadly informs,
"None of my other four brothers has learned this craft.
In fact my only son is not even interested in it." "But,
I have trained around five to six hundred boys and girls in
the craft," he adds with pride.
about the tradition of clay art and pottery, Maran Chand says,
"It is the craft of my ancestors. Pals have been working
on this craft for countless generations." During my great
grandfather's time although all the Pals used to make utensils
he tried to do something modern. "He was the first flower
pot maker of Dhaka," says Maran Chand Pal. Maran Chand
has also earned fame by making flower-vases of diverse shape
along clay dolls. Apart from this, he also made peacock, elephant,
horse, turtle, ashtray and many other attractive decoration
pieces. The detailed craftsmanship of his works speaks for
Chand has a soft corner for the works that illustrate our
national spirit. His first terracotta mural work with clay
was demonstrated in 1973 in independent Bangladesh. He manufactured
this epic-like mural at the TV Bhaban illustrating a mother
and her child, a freedom fighter and a peasant.
was Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin who first spotted
him informs the. And he subsequently joined the Institute
of Fine Arts and completed the three-year course with first
class. He later joined as a teacher in the ceramics department.
He did his certificate course on clay art in 1963 and did
a course from the Government Pottery Development Centre in
1979. In the mid 60s he participated in many contemporary
art exhibitions, both at home and abroad. Each year, from
1967 to 1974, he was awarded the best clay artist in the National
Handicraft Exhibition. In 1986 he received the Shilu Abed
Award for excellence in clay art.
craftworks reached the international arena in the 60s. There
was a handicrafts shop 'Champak' in the then Hotel Intercontinental.
Maran Chand Pal supplied Tepa Putul (Clay doll) to
the shop. Since then, the Bangladeshi clay-craft spread all
over the world.
the present and future prospect of potters and clay artists
of Bangladesh, Maran Chand Pal portrays a bright picture.
He says with enthusiasm, "The works of craftsmen are
being regularly exported abroad. In fact, there is a growing
domestic market. As a result, artists working in this medium
have a bright future."
(R) thedailystar.net 2004