Balarama of Boro: Unique Specimen of Bengal Sculpture

Sanjay Sen Gupta[1]

 Volume 6, Number 2, 2016 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/chitro.v6n2.08

Received on July 21, 2016.
Accepted on July 30, 2016.
Published on August 30, 2016.

The folk-tribal tradition of Bengal sculpture, unlike the hieratic genre, has always remained virile without any promotion from the elite class of the society or the royal state. Hence it had to limit itself, while making divine images, mostly within cheaper mediums like clay and natural pigment. Lavish exploration of wood, stone and metal could only be done by the patronized artists of hieratic genre. However, things started to change – suddenly and with immediate effect – following the Islamic invasion in early-thirteenth century AD.

Bakhtiyar Khalji, the Turk military general of Qutb-ud-din Aybak, defeated King Lak?ma?a Sena and founded the Islamic rule at Lakshmanavati or Gaur. The kingdom became known as the Sultanate of Bengal – being ruled at regular intervals from Delhi. Hindu political identity thus got limited to mere Chieftainships and Baronships under the new rulers.

The renewed circumstances changed the royal religion, whose patrons were firmly against all sorts of image-worship. They withdrew and thus stopped the funding of five-hundred odd years – resulting into several works being left in the midway. The highly-skilled artists of P?la-Sena idiom were appointed in carving royal furniture and accessories, while many of them took refuge to the neighboring courts Hindu kings. Worshipping of idols became a secret activity in Bengal and investments were stopped on large-scale quality works. Quick use of clay and natural pigment became the most suitable alternative – even for the making of hieratic deities.

[1] Sanjay Sen Gupta is Assistant Professor (Fine Arts) at School of Fine Arts, Amity University, Kolkata, India. He did PhD (Fine Arts) in Visual Arts from the University of Calcutta (Government College of Art & Craft, Kolkata), India, 2014. Email: