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Jharkhand is home to many beautiful crafts, and tribals struggling to preserve their culture. While several initiatives have helped some of the crafts to gain prominence, other crafts such as Soapstone carving dwell in anonymity.

On way to a small tribal village in Potka district, we learnt of many stories, and tribal traditions.

Pots in the House

Tribals hang earthen pots outside their homes, in the hope for a visit by birds (especially pigeons). It is believed that birds only nest in houses that are ‘peaceful’ and happy.

As we entered the village, beautiful homes and eager-to-meet tribals welcomed us.

Entrance to KadalHomes

On asking, they showed us the soapstone-carved objects they have been making since time immemorial. These include : bowls, plates, diya-holders and agarbatti stands. They end up selling these at the local railway-station for as little as ₹30-40/-

Basket of Products

“We tribals need money everyday, which is why we go to the station to sell these. Who else would sell it for us?”


Vijay, is an artisan belonging to the Korga tribe. He works from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm and earns an average of ₹1500/- a month.

A finished, soapstone carved bowl.

A finished, soapstone carved bowl.

The villagers don’t rely on any other mode of income – they source their stone for free from the nearby forests (requesting the guards to let them go), and struggle all day to make these. Elderly women and children in the village assist with only daily chores such as cooking and cleaning.

A tribal woman selling the objects at the railway station.

A tribal woman selling the objects at the railway station.

Incidentally, on way back from the village, we did run into a tribal woman, Sarla, selling these objects.

In another village, not so far from Kadal, we met some artisans who traditionally make baskets. When we asked how much they were priced at, the response was : “3 kgs of Rice…And the big one for 5 kgs of Rice..”


Preparing the Bamboo Strips

Weaving the Basket

Weaving the Basket

Different Baskets

Different Baskets

We look forward to working in Jharkhand in 2014, and come back with new stories. Until next time …


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