Posts Tagged ‘Sriniketan


শিল্প সদন – শ্রীনিকেতন (Silpa Sadana – Sriniketan)

Beginning of the 20’s, Patha Bhawan – the school founded by Rabindranath Tagore – had flourished, the Poet had been honoured with a Nobel Prize and then – and only then – the Indian Government had started to show some interest in him and his work in Santiniketan.


As Tagore The Zamidar – the “landlord” – visited the surrounding villages to collect the annual rent, the socially-concerned-Thinker couldn’t help to notice that “for some reason, (they) appeared to be in a state of steady decline”. There was “no joy, no food, no health, no idea of the importance of their own initiative and no cooperation among them” as he confided to the English agricultural scientist Leonard Elmhirst, soon to become the first principal of the Institute of Rural Reconstruction.


In 1922, délaissant the intellectual space he had created, he founded Palli Samgathana Vibhaga in Sriniketan – the “abode of welfare” – second campus of Visva Bharati.



“Modern education (…) has not reached the farmer, the oil grinder nor the potter. If ever a truly Indian university is established it must from the very beginning implement India’s own knowledge of economics, agriculture, health, medicine and of all other everyday science from the surrounding villages. This school must practise agriculture, dairying and weaving using the best modern methods… I have proposed to call this school Visva Bharati

Adresses by Tagore, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan, 1963



Silpa Bhavana had already started training in Art & Craft. Sriniketan took over the work and made compulsory for its students to learn a trade: pottery, woodcarving, paper making, weaving. The objective was to bring back life to the villages and help them to solve their own problems. “…whenever the middle class babus intend to do something for the rural people, they show their contempt for them”. It aimed at combining work with joy organizing picnics, excursions, games, music, theatrical performances and socio-religious festivals.




A visit to Silpa Sadan will probably bring you front of the Emporium. Do not let the desuète and rather gloomy atmosphere drive you away! Beyond the rusty furniture, the dusty floor and non-so-welcoming faces, behind those opaque window glasses, inside those old-fashion wooden armoires, you will find the finest cotton cloth. The design are classic, the colours scarce but the weaving – work of students and some trained craftsmen for the final touch – is fine and authentic.





Your curious instinct might lead you to the corridor at the back of the emporium and, reaching the weaving workshop, you’ll feel you’ve been time-travelling. Unlike Kala Bhavan – the Institute of Fine Arts -, here it seems that everything remained unchanged since Tagore’s years. Superbes wooden looms for hand made cloth, pure off-white cotton yarns, marigold-orange bobbins, deep-blue threads… An antique scenery sublimated by a few rays of the outside spring light.





In 2007, Vishal Bhand joined the department and started the Renaissance of Silpa Sadan. This year was created the first Bachelor course of Design – a première in Santiniketan – aiming not only at developing innovating designers but also at giving them the will and skill to share their designs and savoir-faire with local artisans. Vishal also obtained a fund in order to build a new campus, adapted to the present needs of students and production. We can only hope that this suranné but exquisite Tagorean mood will remain floating in Sriniketan’s air.





“Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941)”, Unesco: International Bureau of Education, 1999