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Nepal Chandra Sutradhar, Chho, Chho Masks

Master craftsman and a superb Chho dancer, Nepal Sutradhar passed away on November 1, 2023. He was in his late eighties. 

Nepal belonged to the famed Chorida village of Purulia, renowned for its Chho masks. Nepal divided his time between crafting, performing and also teaching his children, grandchildren and youngsters in the village, as long as he was able to. He was  eight years old when he first started to learn the Chho dance from his father, Jogindra Sutradhar and his paternal grandfather, Srinath Sutradhar.

Srinath Sutradhar was a close associate of Jipa Singh, Gambhir Singh Mura`s father and it was thus that young Nepal found himself joining Gambhir Singh Mura`s troupe, with which he remained for ten years. Meanwhile, young Nepal lost his father when he was about twelve years and it fell upon other members of the family to train him in the primary family occupation of mask making.  

He was about twenty or twenty-two years old when he struck out on his own - training students and setting up shop during the three months of Chho "season" - Choitra to Joshti, (March-April to May-June) for a number of years in a village, before moving on to another - always at the invitation of  customers. Besides several villages in his native Purulia, his travels took him to Medinipur and Jharkhand state as well. He spent nearly thirty years of his life thus, before settling permanently in his native village. Over this time, Nepal Sutradhar personally trained more than 70 Chho dance groups. 

Nepal Sutradhar`s sons, college educated Kanchan  and Goutam, continue in their father`s footsteps - dancing and making masks. Though primarily busy with his masks at his shop, Mukhosh Milon Shilpolaya in his village, Nepal also led Chho perfomances with his own group of students, in the traditional (Adi) manner of Chho dance. 

Nepal was invited to exhibit in various countries around the world - in the USA, Scotland, Spain and New Zealand. He was awarded the Kalamani Puraskar from the Haryana government at the Surajkund Fair.

Nepal Chandra Sutradhar : Creating the clay model
Nepal Chandra Sutradhar : The basic form emerges
Nepal Chandra Sutradhar : Defining the features
Nepal Chandra Sutradhar : Smoothening and polishing the surface
Nepal Chandra Sutradhar : And the mould is ready to be sun dried
Nepal Chandra Sutradhar : Making of Chho masks