| Artiste Dhirendra Nath Paul (second from left) with the impression of Bhupen Hazarika’s feet in Dhubri. Telegraph picture |
Dhubri, April 10: The terracotta artisans of Asharikandi in Dhubri district have created countless objects of exceptional artistry, but the piece de resistance for them has come in the form of an order to preserve the footprints of balladeer Bhupen Hazarika on the time-tested material.
“This is my lifetime’s achievement. It is like touching the maestro’s feet. Getting to do the work is the highest award for me,” Dhirendra Nath Paul told The Telegraph.
Son of President’s award winner late Sarala Bala Devi, Paul himself has won the Bokul Bota accorded by the Asam Sahitya Sabha a few years ago.
The preservation work has been commissioned by the Forensic Science Laboratory in Guwahati, which had taken clay imprints at Judges Field just before Hazarika’s last journey began. “I thought we should preserve the footprints of the great man in terracotta as the material is long-lasting,” said R.N. Khaund, director, Forensic Science Laboratory, who initiated the project after getting concurrence from the home department.
“I went to Asharikandi village last Friday and asked them to transfer the footprints to terracotta. They have already made a pair from plaster of Paris and will work on terracotta. We should get it within the next few days,” he said.
Dhubri deputy commissioner Sunil Dutta said it was a matter great pride that the preservation was being done in Dhubri district.
“The great singer was associated with Dhubri district by virtue of studying at Dhubri Government Boys Higher Secondary School at the primary school level and will now always be associated with Asharikandi terracotta cluster villages,” Dutta said.
The director of the North East Craft and Rural Development Organisation (Necardo), Binoy Bhattacharjee, who has been relentlessly working for the promotion of Asharikandi style of terracotta in the country and abroad for the past 20 years, was deeply satisfied with the artists’ work.
Bhattacharjee said it was an honour for Asharikandi that the balladeer’s footprints would be preserved for posterity by them.
“The primary objective behind getting the footprints preserved in terracotta is that 3,500-year-old pottery found in the Indus Valley were still in good shape and time could not damage and deform them,” Bhattacharjee added.
He said the footprints were so far preserved in clay, which has no durability.
Bhattacharjee also said Necardo would move the government and the Bhupen Hazarika Cultural Trust for permission to make replicas of the feet imprints and make these available to the world.