Sculptors of Kavalappara

Nov 01, 2016 | Vol 8 Issue 5
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Surviving Traditions of River Nila- 11

There are many folk communities, traditional artists and artisans who have been living on the shores of River Nila (Bharathapuzha) since centuries. This issue features about the sculptors from Kavalappara in Palakkad Dt., who makes temple idols in granite.

The tradition of granite sculpturing still exists in its glory on the banks of river Nila and the prominent, skilled artists who create temple idols are from Kavallapara village near Shornur in Pallakad district.

Mr. Velayudhan who is sixty five years old and residing near Arayankavu temple is the senior most veteran sculptor and his workshop is also here. His late uncle Sanku Moopar was his Guru and was initiated into this activity at the age of twenty three. According to him the legend was that this community had migrated from Tamil Nadu but they do not practice Tamil culture neither do they speak Tamil. The most well-known sculptor of the last century was Perumal Moopar, the father of Sanku Mooppar who died when Velayudhan was in his teens.

The community is known as Mooper and it is also an honorary way of addressing a team leader. This community have spread out and settled on the banks of river Nila at different places …Kavalappara, Chellakara Meetna, Painkulam . Panamanna , Kattukulam , Chemallasery , Pulamanthole, Mulayankavu etc. Many of the community members are still in Granite work and sculpting. Generally these people work on Krishna Shila, the black granite, which are common type of granite used in creating temple idols.

Velayudhan and his two sons Suresh and Rajesh are sculptors, specialized in temple idols and other temple work. Apart from them, there are about 20 plus sculptors in their workshop.  Velayudhan's brothers are also in the same profession based at nearby place Meetna.

Sreekumaran, who had also trained under Sanku Moopar, is Velayudhans brother in law who resides near to his home at Kavalappa. He   also is a sculptor. One of his sons Vinod kumar follows him in this profession.

 According to Sreekumaran in their nature of business they are usually recommended by renowned temple architects from Kannippayur and Vezhapparambu families who advice the temple authorities and they in turn approach them directly. 

Apart from idols they also make variety of products especially those used in temple constructions like the steps to the sanctum, door frames, traditional oil lamps etc. The still follow the traditional scales of measurements and calculations - Yavam (0.375mm), Viral (3cm), Kol (72 cm), etc.

In Kavalappara area some other families are also engaged in granite work.  They are V P Ravindran, Sivakumar C, Narayanankutty to name a few.

Location/access:

Situated near Aryankavu Bhagavathy temple, Kavalappara, near Koonathara in Palakkad district. Shoranur railway station is 6km and Ottappalam is 15km. Also accessible from Koonathara on Kulappulli- Vaniyamkulam road.

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