Infusing life into stones
Although Subbaiah Stapathi’s artisan hands could infuse life into rocks with the art he inherited from his ancestors, he was never sure that where his next meal would come from. It forced him to set out northwards from Thanjavur, once the Chola’s capital and the centre for temple architectural elegance, in quest of livelihood, some four decades ago.
Warangal: Although Subbaiah Stapathi’s artisan hands could infuse life into rocks with the art he inherited from his ancestors, he was never sure that where his next meal would come from. It forced him to set out northwards from Thanjavur, once the Chola’s capital and the centre for temple architectural elegance, in quest of livelihood, some four decades ago.
His effort didn’t go waste as he found a handful of work in the land of Kakatiyas which also is famous for sculptures and structures of engineering marvel. To start with, he went to Easgaon village near Kagaznagar where he sculpted idols for Mallanna temple. After two years, he went to Secunderabad and was part of chiseling idols for Mahankali temple. He also sculpted the idols of Gita Mandiram in Warangal.
Finally, he chose to settle on the wayside of Warangal-Mulug road. Now one of his sons 55-year-old Krishna Stapathi, continuing the legacy of his father, runs Gopala Manikanta Shilpi Works engaging a half-a-dozen local youth. The family once came in search of sustenance all the way from Thanjavur is now providing a livelihood to hundreds of locals. Starting their career from a roadside hut, the Stapathi family developed economically besides procuring Rs 60 lakh machinery.
All the male members of Stapathi’s family took sculpting as their profession and are living upright, besides becoming a beacon for quite a few local people. It may be mentioned here that people who learned the skills from Subbaiah Stapathi’s family are spread across Karimnagar, Huzurabad and Warangal regions making a comfortable living.
Showing the 15-foot height Panchamukha Anjaneya Swamy idol, which took him one year to sculpt with the help of three aides, Krishna told The Hans India: “Patience is the key to success in sculpting profession. The hard work we put in will not go waste. It pays rich dividends.” Talking at length on changes in their hereditary profession, he said that with the advent of machines, the hand-made sculpture has become a craft. As a result, the finesse is missing in the sculptures, but who cares about it, he said.
Krishna Stapathi said that his work starts from selecting the Amrutha Sila (granite stone). He procures the stone from Thorrur and Wardhannapet quarries. Of late, we are getting innumerable orders for Dhwaja stambhams from various temple in Telangana. The family also has the credit of chiseling Lord Venkateswara Swamy and Lord Ganesh idols for a temple in New York (US). Although it’s been nearly four decades, the Stapathi family has its roots deeply connected to Thanjavur.
By Adepu Mahender