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The year 2018 marks 500 years since the establishment of the
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Workspace

Sholapith at a Glance

Description

Sholapith work is a traditional wood-craft form predominantly germane to the state of West Bengal.

Scientific Name of the Plant

Member of the bean family, the scientific name of the shola plant is Aeschynomene aspera. 

Place

In the Indian subcontinent, the plant is native to the states of West Bengal, Orissa, and Assam.

Communities Involved

The sustenance of two groups is weaved into the making of shola items - one community that harvests the plant and the other that makes the craft items. While the former is a heterogeneous group without a particular name to be identified with, the latter is the Malakar community.

Raw Material

The craft items are made of the inner white of the shola stems. The outer layer shavings are used for ornamentation.

Tools

The tools that are used for the production of the shola craft items are simple blades and ordinary threads. One is the kat, which is a fine steel cutter used to make different shola crafts. Different types of scissors called kanchi play a pivotal role in making intricate designs.

Products

The intricate head-wears of to-be-wed couples, shola flowers and garlands, embellished animals, peacock boats, palanquins, the much revered 'daak -er shaaj' of Durga idols

Methods

Malar Kaj is a rough method which lacks finesse as the shola used for this is generally low quality and the artisan need not possess the ultimate creative edge. The sophisticated method that needs a sharpened expertise is known as daker kaj.

Associated Rituals

Shola crafts have an omnipresence in marriage rituals, initiation, religious ceremonies and death rituals. 

Economic Benefits

Sholapith production is largely dominated by women. Women are economically empowered and their creative talent finds an outlet.

Current Status

Shola plant has made an entry in the Red List of Threatened Species compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).