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Honours for masters of traditional art and handicraft

- Minister announces courses in four additional disciplines in government institute, hails spurt in tourists

The government felicitated 40 craftsmen on Tuesday for contributing to the progress of art and craft forms in the state and announced four additional specialisation programmes for them.

Presenting the Shreshtha Shilpi Rajya Puraskar for 2010-11 and 2011-12 at a function at the new secretariat, industries and disaster management minister Renu Kumari said: “Art and craft is being promoted to a great extent now unlike in the regime of the former government. In fact, figures have revealed that the state is witnessing more tourists than Goa. We would impart training in four additional subjects — Madhubani art, handloom, stone carving and lac (training is provided in 11 subjects at present) — at Upendra Maharathi Shilp Anusandhan Sansthan. Pattharkati (stone carving) has been famous in Bihar and craftsmen should focus on this.”

The minister added that transparency would be maintained while selecting craftsmen. Every year, craftsmen would be felicitated at the secretariat. Industries director Shailesh Thakur, principal secretary, industries, Navin Verma, Upendra Maharathi Shilp Anusandhan Sansthan deputy director Ashok Kumar Sinha and many other dignitaries attended the programme.

Among those felicitated was 35-year-old Kumkum Devi from Darbhanga.

Renowned for her Madhubani paintings, Devi’s “Tree of Life” was selected for the state award. Devi said: “I started painting 10 years ago and it took me one-and-a-half months to paint the ‘Tree of Life’. The painting shows fishes all over to imply that unity is strength.”

On the other hand, 24-year-old Rupam Kumari from Jagatpur (Madhubani) was quite happy to receive the award. Though she belongs to a family, which has been into crafts traditionally, Rupam was not aware that she would get this award for Sujani art for 2010-11. Rupam explained: “Earlier, Sujani art was used in making bedsheets only but nowadays, we see it on saris and dress materials too. I dabble in Madhubani paintings too and use it in items of daily use.”

Rupa Dutta from Rajnagar in Madhubani district was felicitated for 2011-12. She clinched the award for her “Vat-Savitri” painting done in Mithila style that she specialises in. Dutta said: “It took me 25 days to make this 5ftx3ft painting. It has the details of how the puja is performed. Sunil Kumar Ray, 27, from Mirzapur, Samastipur is acclaimed for the objects he crafts out of bamboo. Ray said: “I have been doing this since I was 14. I got the 2010-11 award for making the bird Baaz (hawk).”

Sushila Devi, 47, grabbed the award for her expertise in appliqué work.

Sushila, a resident of the Golghar area, has been doing appliqué handicraft for the past 25 years. Devi said: “I had three daughters to marry and therefore, I had to earn by bread by doing appliqué work.” She has won prizes at two earlier events also.