SHOLAPITH >> About Shola

Shola pith is a milky-white sponge-wood which is carved into delicate and beautiful objects of art in India.

It comes from " Sola", a plant, growing wild in marshy waterlogged areas of Bengal, Assam and mainly in the eastern marshy Gangetic plains. The biological name of shola is Aeschynomene Indica or Aeschynomene Aspera (bean family) and is a herbaceous plant.

The shola pith is the cortex or core of the plant and is 1 inch in diameter.

The outer harder brown skin is removed by expert hands to reveal the inner soft milky-white and spongy core, almost similar to "Styrofoam", artificially produced in a laboratory. However, sholapith is much superior to thermocol in terms of malleability, texture, lustre and sponginess and is preffered by the artisans of Bengal, Assam, Orissa and Tamilnadu.

They use it for making artifacts ,decorations and ornate head-wear for the bridal couple in Hindu Wedding ceremonies. The finest examples of craftsmanship are however seen on images of gods and goddesses during festivals. Intricate decorative backdrops made for "Durga- Kali Puja" celebrations ,in Calcutta are a wonder to see. Craftsmen spend months creating each piece and every details is meticulously worked out.

In Assam and Bengal, the shola crafts are the most detailed and skillful.

A variety of flower designs, decorative head-wears of gods and goddesses, garlands etc form a part of the range.

In Bengal, exquisite figurines of gods and goddesses, elephant-howdahs, peacock-boats, palanquines and so on are made of sholapith. Craftsmen in Tamil Nadu are famous for structures like models of temples and monuments. These craftsmen are known as "Malakar" in eastern India.