SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

Bengal's Kumartuli Art: Durga Idol Making and Display in SOAS


Date: 2 October 2017Time: 9:00 AM

Finishes: 7 October 2017Time: 9:30 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: Cloister Areas

Type of Event: Celebration

Cloister Areas, Paul Webley Wing of the Senate House (North Block)
02 to 03 and 05 to 07 October (Please note, the displays will be open to visitors from 9:00 am to 9:30 pm on all days listed except on Saturday, 07 October, when the session will end at 5:00 pm)
Bloomsbury Festival Display: 19-20 October
Durga Idol Making Workshop

Craftsmen from Kolkata will be bringing an ancient tradition of clay idol-making to life at SOAS in October.

Potters from the artistic district of Kumartuli are being flown in to make the idol of the artistic heritage icon Durga. They will demonstrate a living art that is central to Kolkata's massive city-wide annual Durga Puja festival, known as the world's greatest 'crowd-sourced festival of ideas' that is bigger in scale than the Rio Carnival.

Durga Puja, also known as Navaratri, celebrates the mother goddess' victory of good over evil, as depicted in the elaborate idol. Artists Kaushik Ghosh and Sudarshan Das will create and demonstrate the traditional and highly skilled process of clay idol-making over five days in the cloisters of the Paul Webley Wing in Senate House (North Block). 

The artists’ demonstration brings the sculpting art of Kolkata to the SOAS premises together with a rich ensemble of heritage textiles, jewellery and other artefacts showcasing historical connections in the India-UK year of culture. 

A digital film will show the making of the 'vigraha' undecorated style and how adding the crafts, ornaments and clothing transforms the visual grandeur of the clay exhibit. Other visual images in the film will capture how idols are innovatively created to showcase community-inspired Bengali art and craft. 

The event, the first of its kind in the University, is being organised by South Asia Institute in partnership with the arts charity London Sharad Utsav.

The clay sculpting process will be open to viewing on 2nd-3rd and 5th-7th October. The ornamented idol will be displayed as part of the Bloomsbury Festival again on 19-20 October in the Paul Webley wing.

The spirit of community celebrations is also explored through forthcoming talks and other events. The South Asia Institute’s side of the project is being coordinated by Dr Sanjukta Ghosh.

Programme Details:

The programme details can be accessed here

Organiser: SSAI and London Sharad Utsav

Contact email: