GOLAKGANJ, Oct 6 � Situated close to Dhubri town, Asharikandi, is a small sleepy village that most people on their way to have a glimpse of traditional terracotta art would probably not ever notice. However, this village houses about 300 establishments each employing eight to ten artisans who work for long hours under the able guidance of a master craftsman and produce valuable items of terracotta.
Asharikandi located at a distance of approximately 12 km from Dhubri town does not present anything remarkable at first sight. The narrow winding roads have houses on either side, crudely built of either mud or bricks, with thatched roofs. The place is dotted with small, shallow ponds covered with algae and flanked by tall betelnut trees. Dhirendranath Paul, of Asharikandi village a terracotta artisan, has been recognised and awarded at the national and international level. It is worth mentoning that his mother Sarolabala Devi was a great master of the terracotta art and was awarded a national prize at Delhi in 1982. On the other hand, Dhirebdrenath Paul, also represented terracotta art from Assam in Sweden, Denmark and Germany in 1987. When contacted he said that the if government had taken proper steps, this art could have brought prosperity to the poor villages.
This art is practiced by the �Paul� and �Heera� community as their heritage. Besides Asharikandi, this art has now taken roots in Bilasipara, Golakganj, Boxirhat, Balazan in Dhubri district. Though Asharikandi village has been blessed with electricity for the past few years or so, power failures are frequent. As the designing and making of terracotta is carried out in the homes of the artisans, power cuts only result in the work getting hindered. Kerosene is also scarce. Irregular supply of kerosene is a cause for despair to the common man and more so to the artisans who depend on it to fill up the blow lamps that are used for their work.
Another cause for frustration among the artisans is that being perennially short of cash, they often have to say no to bulk orders that come their way, something that could well improve their economic condition. Faced with such problems, it is indeed amazing that the artisans have carried on with their trade � displaying much patience and an indomitable spirit.