Monthly Archives: April 2019

Gudvelipadar’s copper snake business in a slump

At one point in past decades, the artisans of Gudvelipadar in Boudh district earned handsomely from selling Silver Filigree. Later, when the demand for these ornaments came down, clever artisans started making ‘Copper Snakes’, and found their safety net around it.

Over the years, Gudvelipadar has earned a name for itself for the copper snakes made here.

About 30 villagers along with their families are engaged in this trade. These silversmith families are not the only ones in the village who earn their livelihood from selling these items; there also are people — trained by these artisan families — doing brisk business.

 

But this craft, like many other traditional ones, is facing severe headwinds.

“Sometimes the cops harass us. We have license to procure raw materials like acid, brass and copper sheets. We get these raw materials from Rengali area in Sambalpur district. Yet at times the cops catch us and we have to cough up some money to avoid getting entangled in their concocted plots,” says an artisan, wishing not to be named.

Some other artisans joined him to narrate the issues they are facing these days.

According to them, their present business is also passing through the same situation they once experienced during the collapse of silver filigree period.

“The golden period of our copper snake business is over. We are no longer earning what we used to make in earlier days,” some said.

They have ascribed the slump in their business to the change of people’s mindset due to rapid ingression of western culture.

“It is Lord Shiva believers who constitute our main customer group. They buy copper snakes from us to offer them at Shiva temples. They do so when their wishes are granted. But the present generation is largely influenced by western culture. Some of them hardly visit these shrines, let alone wishing to offer copper snakes to Lord Shiva upon fulfillment of their wishes,” said a village elder.

The entire process starting from putting copper sheets in fire to make it flexible till a finished product takes time as well as needs engagement of whole family members.

“The price these products are fetching these days is not satisfactory as compared to the labour put together,” they alleged.

The copper snakes manufactured by the artisans here have found places in several Shiva temples including the Lingaraj temple of Bhubaneswar. However, pride alone is unlikely to fill their stomachs. The state government should come forward to bail out this traditional art form which seems to be on the verge of extinction.