Terracotta of Ghurisa, Birbhum
Terracotta of Ghurisa
Whenever we talk about Bengal terracotta, two names jump out in front; one is Vishnupur (or Bishnupur) in Bankura district, & the second one is Baronagar in Murshidabad district. But there are many places throughout West Bengal with many temples with excellent terracotta art works. These lesser known places require more exposure to the public. One such place is Ghurisa, a village in Birbhum district which requires special mention. Let’s have a virtual tour of the place.
Ghurisa is situated about 8 km from Ilambazar, an important junction town on the state highway connecting Panagarh (on National Highway 2) with Morgram (on National Highway 34). A non-descriptive Bengal village, Ghurisa boasts of a number of temples of which two are very important from the perspective of terracotta work --- one is RAGHUNATH SHIVA temple, & the other is LAKSHMI JANARDAN temple, both having terracotta art of the highest calibre.
A. RAGHUNATH SHIVA temple :
Constructed in traditional CHARCHALA (4-roofed) temple style in 1639 AD , the temple has some exceptionally good terracotta artwork. Besides the traditional terracotta panels with KRISHNA LEELA (events of the life of Lord Krishna), DASHAVATAR (the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu), RAMAYANA & MAHABHARATA (the two classic Hindu epics), Floral & Vegetative motifs, the temple also contains terracotta figures of gods & goddesses of Hindu pantheon like Goddess Durga, Lord Shiva, Goddess Kali, Goddess Manasha (the goddess of snakes), Goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of Wealth), Goddess Saraswati (The goddess of Learning), Goddess Tripursundari (a form of SHAKTI) etc.
There are social scenes too, with some erotic panels.
Of special mention are some special panels like NABANAARIKUNJARA (9 ladies together forming an elephant, from Krishna Leela) & RASHMANDALA ((Gopinis dancing in concentric rings with Krishna & Radha at the centre).
B. Lakshmi Janardana temple:
Situated about 200 metres from the Raghunath temple is a temple built in the classical NABARATNA (Nine-turreted) style dedicated to Lord Narayana & Goddess Lakshmi (constructed in 19th century). This temple, called Lakshmi Janardana temple, has extensive terracotta art work of such a high quality, especially technically, that even the world famous Vishnupur temples stand no match.
The colour of the terracotta panels, the clear-cut facial expressions of the figures, the variety of subjects are just stupendous.
This temple has a large number of social scenes, besides traditional figures of gods & goddesses. Of the social scenes, some interesting panels contain figures of bare-chested ladies, may be of prostitutes. Besides, some exceptionally good panels of Shaivite (followers of Lord Shiva) ascetics & Vaishnavites (followers of Lord Vishnu) performing KIRTAN (a sort of devotional music) are prominently displayed.
As a whole, Ghurisa exemplifies the rich tradition of terracotta art work in Bengal. It deserves a more close look by the experts & general public.