Rayagada: Once tribal people carved ‘Lau Tumba’ (dry bottle gourd) to make containers, mostly to carry food and water and to store seeds.
They also made traditional instruments by using this bottle gourd, which is found in the forests of Malkangiri, Koraput, Nabarangpur and Rayagada districts in Odisha.
But times have changed and so have the designs. Now tribals have started making home decors out of Lau Tumba that have reached several places across India as well as abroad thanks to promotion and marketing by local artists.
“Now people in Brazil, Australia and China have also started planting the dry bottle gourd and crafting many things out of it,” said Rayagada-based artist Himanshu Sekhar Pandia.
An alumnus of JJ School Of Fine Art in Mumbai, Pandia said he learnt to make home decors out of bottle gourd from the internet. He has been working on this craft for 11 years now.
“I have been making different types of home decors and also engage many local artists in the work. I then send the products to various markets including foreign countries where there is a demand for such crafts,” Pandia said.
“This particular bottle gourd is not edible. So a thing that was being wasted in forest areas has now become a source of income for the tribal people,” he added.
He informed that the artists buy bottle gourd from the tribal people and then clean them with water and sandpaper. Then they leave the gourds to dry and make paintings on them.
The artists make models of animals and birds, wall decorations, lamps and statues by using the ‘Lau Tumbas’. Besides these home decors are long lasting.
“I am exporting these bottle gourd-made home decors to Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru. Besides, I have showcased these items at many exhibitions in different parts of the country,” said Pandia, a resident of Kasturi Nagar in Rayagada.
He has also set up a training institute called Prerana Art and Craft in Rayagada.