Preserving our roots - Sushanta Pal's Shoker Hari
Preserving our roots
Sushanta Pal's Shokher Hari -folk-art of potteries transformed on modern canvas. Reports Faizul Khan Tanim
Shushanta Pal was born in Basantapur village of Paba union of Rajshahi district around 1959. He doesn’t remember his birth year properly but he learned to draw from when he started understanding life.
Shokher Hari has been the oldest traditional business and passion in Pal’s family. His grandfather Banyeshwar Pal was a famous artist of this pottery art, who received provincial award during East Pakistan period.
But today, due to deep frustrations over the decrease on the use of clay potteries and to run his family, this craftsman transformed this art form from pottery to art paper and canvas, believing to preserve this traditional art and as well earn a living.
If clay pottery art is dying then indeed it is grave news for us because this traditional art captures the essence of rural Bengal and sports the images of mainly folk tales, celebrations, the different plants, birds, fishes, other animals and of course, humans at their best.
Size and names of painted potteries differ based on regions, the style of paintings and the design motifs – Mongol Hari, Jagoron Hari, Aiburo Hari, Phul Hari and the extravagant Shokher Hari. And the name Shokher Hari was coined in Rajshahi region which cultivates exceptional value of art and grandeur.
And Pal craftily used to perform this art on earthen bowls and pots and recently realised that these clay wares started losing its force to non-artsy contemporary bowls. “Yes of course the other material pots has great value of longevity but are they emotional pieces of articles?” asked a frustrated Pal.
Pal has been living in the village Basantapur of Rajshahi district and involved in creating Shokher Hari by following this ancestral business since childhood “I started to transform this art on thick art paper primarily and canvas to preserve our roots, our culture and glorious, colourful identity and to earn a living in this world of mechanised civilization”, added the very emotive folk artist.
Pal received several awards for his outstanding works – BSCIC Best Craftsmen Award 1405 (1998), Best Craftsmen Award in the national ceramics art competition 2000 organized by BSCIC Design Centre and Alliance Francaise Dhaka, Best Prize 2000 by Bangladesh National Craft Council and Lifetime Achievement 2003 by National Traditional Fold and Craft Exhibition and more.
These works, on both pottery and canvas are currently being exhibited at the city’s Gallery Jolrong in Banani Road 11 as Pal’s first ever exhibition and will continue till April 22. This exposition is receiving massive response.