Exclusive: German’s Lakshmi Lost In Bengal

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Kolkata: Germany is not only known for football, for making world-famous cars but also for its fine artwork. Not everyone knows that Germany also made idols of Goddess Lakshmi with the use of porcelain. Artworks using porcelain are hard to be found nowadays, but Apurva Kumar Panda has preserved some of them.

Apurva, a government employee has an interest in preserving antics. ‘German Lakshmi’ is also a part of his antics museum named ‘Tarar Chaya’ which roughly translates to ‘shadow of the stars’. Apurva informs that the porcelain-made dolls of Gods and Goddesses started coming in India from Germany from the end of the 19th century. Although, porcelain-made dolls used to come to India from long time back. The Germans focused more on making dolls in the form of Gods and Goddesses. Since that time, this porcelain-made Lakhshmi started coming from Germany.

Apurva said, “At the end of the 19th century, Ravi Verma’s paintings started going to Germany. Following the paintings closely, idols of Indian Gods and Goddesses started being made by German artists. These German made idols gradually became famous in the Bengal market. Names of artists were not mentioned in all these idols. But some special German codes enabled people to understand that these idols were from Germany.” Apart from idols of Lakshmi, idols of Ganesh, Shiv and Durga also came to India. 250 such idols are in Apurva’s museum.

The porcelain-made German idols were very expensive. The Japanese artists also started making these idols which used found its place in every household. Apurva said, “The high-class people used to copy the Britons. The middle-class people used to copy the rich. The Japanese-made idols were not that expensive. For this, the porcelain-made Japanese-made idols of Indian Gods and Goddess became more popular in Bengal and nationwide.”

At that time, Krishnanagar’s clay dolls were famous. But its colour used to wear away and it used to break easily. But the colours of the Japanese porcelain dolls used to remain for a longer time than the Krishnanagar dolls. They also did not break easily. For this reason, it became famous in Bengal too. The main difference between Germans and Japanese dolls were in colours. The German colours lasted for a long time in the Indian temperature than the Japanese doll colours, which never lasted for long.

Apurva said, “The custom of child marriage was still there at the end of the 19th century. The small girls loved to play with dolls. So, these porcelain made dolls of Gods and Goddesses were given to these children as gifts during their marriages.”

Once famous, but now these are lost with time.

On his favorite hobby’s future, Apurva said, “I don’t know. I love it and so I carry on with it. It might be useful to someone unknown for their future.”

Reported By: Souptik Banerjee
Edited By: Saheli Dey

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