Ghurni (Bengali: ঘূর্ণি) is a neighbourhood of Krishnanagar in Nadia district in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is the centre for the production of clay dolls, often referred to as Krishnanagar clay dolls.
The old name of Krishnanagar was Rewe. In the early 17th century Bhabananda Majumdar founded the royal family of Nadia. Later, Maharaja Rudra changed the name to Krishnagar. In 1757, Maharaja Krishnachandra (1710–1783) helped the British East India Company against Siraj ud-Daulah in the Battle of Plassey. He was a patron of the arts, including literature and music, and supported the production of clay dolls. In 1728 he brought families of potters from Dhaka and Natore and settled them in Ghurni, then a village.
In an article, the Bangalore-based newspaper Deccan Herald writes, “We have clay dolls, toys and even clay sculptures in different parts of India. But there has been nothing to match the clay doll artisans of Krishnanagar in the Nadia district of West Bengal. The creations of these artists are displayed in most of the handicraft museums of the world. In India, we have a large display of these dolls in the Shankar’s Doll Museum in New Delhi. One look at the clay dolls and we are amazed at the reality with which the artist has displayed the character of the model. A horse rearing to gallop to a placid dog licking its lips after a hearty feed.”
Krishnanagar clay dolls are unique in their realism and the quality of their finish, ‘...they truly represent a breakaway from the traditional form. Fruits, fish, insects, animals, birds, and of course the entire pantheon of gods and goddesses, and even the ubiquitous Donald Duck and other popular comic strip characters, faithful copies of real-life, down to the minutest detail. Realistic recreations of everyday life, work, mood and character- farmers, weavers, rag pickers, basket makers, umbrella makers - are yet other specialties of Krishnanagar dolls.’
Exhibitions of Krishnagar dolls have been held in London, Paris and Boston. Ghurni clay models have won medals and certificates at international exhibitions.
The clay modellers of Ghurni have fallen on bad days. The decline of feudal zemindari culture and loss of their patronage have adversely affected them. They are finding new patrons amongst NRIs, many of whom are acquiring clay models in large numbers.
The number of master craftsmen is decreasing as members of the younger generation are switching over to more lucrative trades or more paying professions. In 2007, the number of master craftsmen staying at Ghurni dwindled to 10, most of them aged.
The above information on Krishnanagar Clay work artisans is taken From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghurni