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Blessed hands create beauty
The hands of Kamal Ramdeo were once used to dig drains on the sugar cane estates at Waterloo during his tenure at Caroni (1975) Ltd when that company was the island’s only sugar producing entity. Today, Ramdeo is a sculptor who makes murtis of Hindu deities at his workshop at Brickfield Village, Carapichaima.
Ramdeo, 57, was bareback when we visited his home that seemed to be splashed with a fresh coat of orange paint. A large shed that joins his private temple is his workshop. It is littered with tools, cement, and lots of plastic sheets to cover his work. Ramdeo was overly eager to speak about his entry into the world of sculpting. He recalled at the age of 17, he was asked by devotees of a Kali Temple in the area to create a murti of Kal Bhairo, a manifestation of Lord Shiva. Ramdeo said that the murti he then made with steel, sand and cement is still looking as good as the day it was created.
Said Ramdeo: “The Madras people who worshipped at the Kali Temple had no murtis and they used a stone and they did not have any money to buy a murti and I ended up building the murti for them and donated it to them.”
Stating that he does not have any formal training, or has never taken classes in the art of sculpting, Ramdeo said: “I see this as a gift from God, so that I, as a humble servant of the lord, can play the role in promotion of my faith.”
Ramdeo said after making his first murti, he did not reenter the craft until 2001, two years before Caroni (1975) Ltd closed its sugar producing operations. He added that he has since produced several murtis including large Hanuman murtis, one which can be seen on the Maha Sabha compound at Tunapuna near Radio Jagriti.
Ramdeo said there are about 12 people making murtis in T&T and all of them use the same basic process. He said a steel skeleton is constructed and mortar is slowly layered to take the form of the deity. Sandpaper, hacksaw blades and other tools are used to create the details and forms on the murtis. Ramdeo said he uses an airbrush and autocolour paints to give the murtis a glossy look. He said auto paints are durable and weatherproof and can last a long time.
Nevertheless, he has taken on several jobs to repair murtis that have succumbed to the weather.
Ramdeo said murtis are representations of gods and goddesses and must be treated with the respect and care and not neglect. He said the locally crafted murtis are much more durable than the plastic murtis that are imported from China. He said locally produced murtis not only support local talent but can create an avenue for young people to get involved in sculpting if there is a demand.
Ramdeo said learning sculpture is not an overnight skill and can take an individual several years to master. Ramdeo said he has been working on a special murti for his temple at his home for the past three years. He said when that project is revealed it would be his most glorious creation yet.
Ramdeo can be contacted at 794-5931.
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