Votive Terracotta Idols of Molela : Sustainability of an Ageless Culture


Preservation of cultural knowledge is the key of sustainable expansion of indigenous livelihood. In the practice of habitual art, the aesthetic freedom is intrinsic to social norms. Votive terracotta idols of Molela prevails a quintessential ageless style, suckled with ritualistic necessities, yet the process of making is quite playful and spontaneous. Situated in a remote location in Rajsamad district, Rajasthan, India, ‘Molela murtikala’ is distinctively identified for its execution of hollow-relief sculptures. They are directly hand sculpted with malleable clay in additive method without using any wheel, mold or subsidiary tools. The artists of this region do not find idol making adequate to sustain a living and therefore engage themselves in farming. The terracotta plaques are fragile and the hilly roads are unsuitable for transportation. They have fixed customers who are primarily the tribal communities of Madhya Pradesh and other nearby states. The idols are made twice a year for ‘navratri’ festival when the tribes accompanied by the ‘bhopa’ priests, drummers and other performers arrive at Molela in pedestrian procession as customers. The idols are baked in low temperature, painted with mandatory colours and made ready for worship with the age-old belief of inculcating the protective spirits in them. The paper studies the flagbearer artists of the ethnic society to understand how the community ethos tacitly travels through generations by nitty-gritties of a crafts-skill. It qualitatively analyses the restrictive nature of Molela art that also allows its practitioners to be free and expressive in execution.


Shatarupa Thakurta Roy
Associate Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Uttar Pradesh, India


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design in Society



Digital Media


Votive Terracotta Idols of Molela (pptx)