Sholapith Craft (West Bengal Art and Craft)
Sholapith craft is a traditional handicraft art form of West Bengal. This art had its origin in the customary and religious need of the people.
The traditional Sholapith craftsmen enjoys a respectable position in the society. They used to supply flowers and decoration accessories. Floral decoration is a must in every Puja or marriage ceremony.
The traditional objects are in little demand in modern days. But the tradition art has found newer avenues of expression. Solapith dolls and toys are example of fine finish, good design and quality craftsmanship.
Sholapith craft decorations of past days have reappeared with trivial modifications to provide vividness and style in interior decoration and social ceremonies.
Utility items are decorated. Ornament boxes, decorative hangings and wall pannels, etc. have added a new dimension to the craft.
In Bengal there is still high demand for floral decoration for the deities.
Shola is a herb. This plant grows wildly in water logged marshy lands. The seeds germinate with showers in April and grown up plants are collected in the months of September and October. These plants are then dried under the sun and stored in shade for use throughout the year. The soft, white, light and shiny inner section of the plant is used by the craftsmen.
In the past, there had been no standard marketplace for sholapith. With the increase in demand, villagers are bringing them to the market and craftsmen and traders collect them at good price.
The weight of Shola is very low. When the thin brownish bark is detached, a shining white spongy stuff is obtained which is the chief raw material.
The Sholapith craftsmen also use colored paper, golden thread and ribbons, water colors, pastes etc. They make perfect motifs and designs and create one of the most extraordinary item of decoration.
The craftsmen are scattered across various regions of the country, particularly West Bengal. Craftsmen of a particular region have specialization for a particular line of product.