Shiva Temple, Supur, Birbhum –Bengal’s Ancient Terracotta Art

October 9, 2022 by admin0

Shiva Temple, Supur is an ancient medieval temple in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. The temple has intricate terracotta artwork, which shows the excellence of medieval Bengali culture. The Surtheshwar Shiva temple is now in ruins and in a dilapidated condition. The archaeological nomenclature of the Shiva Temple, Supur is in the museum at Bolpur.


Location of Shiva Temple, Supur

The Shiva Temple, Supur is located in the Supur region near Bolpur in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. The Surtheshwar Shiva temple is located on the mound west of Bolpur in Ilambazar, now under the Forest Department, and a major weekend destination in Kolkata and Ranchi.


The Temple

The presiding deity of Suratheshwar Shiva Temple is Lord Shiva or Mahadev. Here is an old Shiva Linga from the ancient medieval period. This Octagonal Siva temple at Supur is a list of State Protected Monuments and among the 106 State Protected Monuments that have been recognized by the ASI in West Bengal. (Sl. No. S-WB-16)


History of Shiva Temple, Supur

According to the medieval history of Bengal, it is believed that the legendary King Suratha of Rar Bengal regularly worshiped at this temple.

Shiva Temple Supur

Fair at Shiva Temple, Supur

Every year, on the occasion of Uttarayan Sankranti, a big fair held on the premises of the Surtheshwar Shiva Temple which is held in the months of January and February is a major attraction for local and foreign tourists. People from Kolkata, Jharkhand and Bihar visit this dying terracotta temple and local big fairs.

Terracotta, an ancient craftsmanship

We have already seen that the creation of art by burning clay  called terra cotta work. We will use the word ‘terracotta’. There is no doubt that terracotta craftsmanship is an ancient tradition in Bengal. This industry developed in different ways by burning the soil. such as

Read More: Itachuna Rajbari Shiv Mandir, West Bengal

  1. Small Clay Dolls, Various Shapes, Vasan Koson, Old Age seals (found in Harappa, Mohenjo-daro) which are very small in size.
  2. Decorated clay tiles of different sizes.
  3. People-proof dolls or other essentials.

It is surprising to think that brick houses are destroyed within 50-60 years if they are too high. But this terracotta architecture and works of art have stood under the open sky for hundreds of years, braving the storm, water, and sun. What advanced scientific methods did our ancient artists and architects built them for durability?

The artists of that era had to work hard to create this unprecedentedly beautiful art. This industry does not work with all types of soil. specific type

Industrial soil prepared by sifting the soil, making sure that there was no stone or gravel or anything else in it, and mixing it well with water.

Various terracotta items are manufactured at Panchmura in the Bankura district. A special type of clay soil is found near the village. The artists collected that soil and brought it. After that mix water in the soil and stir for a long time. In this way, the dirt mixed with the soil is separated.

Shiva Temple Supur


This process  done by changing the water frequently. At one time the empty silt portion is lying in the container. Now the artist creates the work of art ignited with that clay, be it a tile or a statue or a doll or a figure. Once the shaping phase complete, the newly created artwork left to dry in the sun. The annealed artwork then arranged in a kiln and the process of firing started. ‘Bhatti’, a type of furnace where earthen material fired and hardened for durability. A special coating  applied to the artifact after firing to give it a polished appearance.

There are two types of terracotta colors. red and black No artificial colors applied externally. If the smoke released while firing in the kiln, it is red in color and if the smoke not released, the artwork is black in color. When removed from the kiln, the complete form of the art object can be seen. The quality of the product depends on the number of ingredients, how long the art dried in the sun, and how long it kept in the fire.

This is how terracotta artifacts with fine craftsmanship produced. Many beautiful tiles like these used in a temple, it takes a lot of time to make them. The artist has to depict different scenes, different events, different pictures, and subjects on clay tiles. With great patience, many people  involved in this work. Language used to convey an image in literature, but in terracotta art it conveyed through the posture of the corresponding figure. We can easily imagine the extraordinary concentration and artistry required to express this scene or idea on a small tile plaque.

Read More: Shiva Mandir, kurumvera, West Bengal

Over time, many such terracotta artifacts, temples, and deuls built by various communities. Built at different times, different types of temples cost different things to build. We come across a rare foundation inscription on a Pancharatna Shiva temple at Charkal village under Nanur police station in Birbhum district. It can be seen that 445.9 rupees spent to build that temple in the 1245 Bengal Calendar.

Shiva Temple Supur

Inspection information

Suratheshwar Shiva Temple is accessible by rail and road. Bolpur in Birbhum district of West Bengal is 160 km from Howrah by road and 39 km by train from Khana Junction on the Eastern Railway.

Nearest Railway Bolpur Santiniketan Railway Station. It is easily accessible from Supur. Supur is an old village, situated on the southwest side of Bolpur. Bolpur was under the Supur pargana in early and medieval times. At that time Supur was the trading center of Muslim India.

The weaving industry also developed here. Earlier in the late Middle Ages, Supur was part of the French East India Company, but later clashed with them with the advent of the British East India Company. Later Supur and Surul became part of the British colony of Bengal.

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