Tumba Craft – Smitten with gourds…

My (not so much 😉) love for gourds was rediscovered in our recent trip to Bastar, remote tribal district of Chhattisgarh which is like a craft epicentre of India. And though it was not because of any delicious preparations of the gourds but because of the Tumba craft!

Tumba craft is contemporary expression of traditional technique of container making from dried bottle gourds!

Tumba means Bottle Gourd (Lauki in hindi, Dudhi in Marathi). Dried gourds have traditionally been used by tribal communities in Chattisgarh to make containers to carry daily supplies of water and semi solid food items to work. One will also find references of ‘Kamandalu’ (oblong water pot carried by ascetics and yogis in India) made from dried gourds!

However, unlike the usual bottle gourd available in the city vegetable markets, which are long and slender, ones in Bastar grow really wild and many even bigger than the head of a grown man!

Suresh-ji-with-Tumba
These gourds are harvested once in a year and left to dry completely and hollowed before they become a skilled craftman’s canvas!

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Interesting designs are carved out on the dried skin using simple iron tools. While the intricate design may catch the attention of the onlooker during the day, the shadows rule the night as the well-lit tumba comes to life!Though one may find lamp shades made from Bamboo which are made using similar technique, what makes this craft unique is the ‘Tumba’ itself. Every shape is unique and you learn to appreciate the beauty laid down by the creator.

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While making this art form available to craft lovers in India through my web store craftribute.com, the perfectionist in me is freaking out as I’ve no control on what the next lot is going to look like; and at the same time slowly learning to leave it to the able hands of the craftsman who have long learnt the open secret…every gourd is beautiful, just offer your best to bring out the best from the nature’s one of its kind creation!

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