Veteran stone sculptor still waiting for elusive Government loan

    29-Nov-2019


By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Nov 29 : Stone sculptor, Oinam Mangi (70) of Toupokpi Maning Leikai under Bishnupur district has decried that the State Government has failed to give a positive response to a Rs 15 crore loan that he had applied to purchase a machine for stone carving.
He said that the machine would improve and make his work effective to a great extent.
The well known stone sculptor has bagged around 14 awards for his creative work in sculpting but he claimed that he has not received any benefits from the State Government till date.
On the other hand, Mangi's wife Bilashini has also achieved many awards in the field of sculpting.
Oinam Mangi, while speaking to The Sangai Express, maintained that his father Oinam Ibungonungsi was a talented sculptor and a craftsman who made numerous utility items like bowls, grinders among others.
Following his father's footsteps, he tried his hands on sculpting for the first time in 1980, Mangi said while adding that countless number of statues, busts, memorial stones etc have been carved and made by him till date.
Some of his famous works includes that of Paona Brajabashi, Bir Tikendrajit, Thangal General, Biramangol (founder of Biramangol College), a soldier from Ukhrul and other stone carving works.
Mangi continued that a passport size carving is charged at the rate of Rs 75,000 while that of a life size is charged at Rs 1.60 lakh.
For his raw materials for sculpting, he carries out his carving work on the stones cut from Laimaton hill at Old Cachar road while Rs 3000-4000 is given to those who cuts the stones.
Meanwhile, necessary tax is also paid to the Forest Department for cutting and bringing out the stones, Mangi added.
When it comes to his work place, the stones will be delivered at his residence where he does the sculpting work with the help of others, he narrated. Mangi further stated that the number of workers (100 or 50 or even 5) differ according to the kind of sculpting work he takes up while adding that they are given a daily wage of Rs 1000.
As landing a Government job is hard in Manipur, Mangi is normally assisted by his wife, three sons and a daughter and other workers at times which has become a source of income for Mangi to take care of his family.
Mangi told The Sangai Express that working on a sculpture takes time as it requires one to use a chisel and hammer to finish the work. Meanwhile, many came to place their order for carving statues, memorial stone.
People from Myanmar even visit the place especially to buy the sculptures, he added.
To improve his work and to meet the demands of the public, he had applied for a loan of around Rs 15 crore to the Khadi and Village Industries, GoM during 2012-13 but the Government has not provided any sort of response till date.
Union Minister Giriraj Singh and officials concerned also visited his place in Toupokpi on February, 2018 to inspect his works in which assurance were given to extend necessary assistance to Mangi, he maintained.
In another instance, during his visit to Delhi, the chairman of Khadi and Village Industries had asked him if there would  be enough raw materials to produce/make stone sculptures, he said and added that he also responded to the chairman about abundant availability of raw materials.
The carving work by hand takes a lot of time and is likely to make mistakes as well. However, if advanced equipment are used like carving/sculpting machines then his work will be effective when it comes to neatness and speed, he said.
Mangi maintained that he will even be able to receive an award for easily and quickly repaying loans if the machines do the sculpting works.
He further stated that the Manipur University of Culture under the Department of Art and Culture has asked him, on March this year, to carve six pillars (12 feet each) for the said university. The pillars will bear the carvings/symbols of different communities.
Mangi continued that he had also applied for pension to the Department of Textiles, Commerce & Industry during the month of June-July this year as he has crossed 60 years. However, he still waits for a positive response form the department concerned till now.
The forefathers of Manipur engraved and carved the very history on stones and following this, the tradition of carving on stones continues for the welfare of the future generation and to promote the art and culture of the State, he stated.