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Three murals for Birsa memorial

October is set to bring glad tidings for Birsa Samadhi Sthal in Ranchi that is situated beside the distillery pool on Kokar’s Old Hazaribagh Road.

Two huge murals will adorn the walls of the memorial, which is the final resting place of tribal hero Birsa Munda.

While one will depict the legendary tribal leader speaking to or planning strategies with his followers, the other will show him in action in a scene of war against the British.

These murals will decorate the front and right walls of the memorial from where the visitors come in, informed Amitava Mukherjee, a well known sculptor, who has been working on the twin art works at his Harmu studio for some months now.

Both the panels measure 20 ft by 10ft, have been cast in reinforced fibreglass and are of metallic bronze colour. Mukherjee claimed that both the murals, once ready, would be highly realistic in nature.

“The government is renovating the spot. So they have hired contractors and designers. I was asked to make the murals by a designer,” he said.

Prodded for details about the work, the sculptor said the first mural depicts Birsa Munda with his followers in the hilly terrain of Khunti district.

The scene is during the days of the great 1899-1900 revolt. A dedicated group of his followers are seen keenly listening to him. In the background, two figures are also seen carrying a sick person, depicting the belief that Birsa Munda had the super-natural ability of healing the sick.

The mural will be complete with hilly contours, sky with clouds and trees. What makes it unique is the fact that the scene will have 70 clay figures of humans in it.

The war scene mural, on the other hand, takes the viewers back to the final stages of the uprising. The British troops led by senior officers clash with Birsa and his men on the hilly terrain of Sail Rakab near Dumbari. While Birsa and his men are outnumbered, they have the advantage of stealth that helps them hide in the caves.

On one side of this panel, some injured and tired followers of Birsa are seen resting in the caves, while others continue firing against the British troops, who were mostly on horseback and are armed with gun carriages.

Being a high-relief work, the horses, the canons placed on carriages and the soldiers with their insignia have been made prominent. While a dead soldier lies nearby, another hangs precariously from the back of a horse drawing attention of his panicked colleagues.

“First the initial work was done with clay brought from Kumartuli (Calcutta), then the moulds were made with plaster of Paris. The entire design then would be cast in reinforced glass fibre,” Mukherjee said.

He added that the murals should be up for display by mid-October.