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Vijayan’s ‘legends of Khasaks’ recreated in granite

legends of khasak

‘Khasakkinte Ithihasam’ (The legends of Khasak), the path-breaking Malayalam classic by eminent novelist and cartoonist O V Vijayan is getting a ‘sculptured version’

legends of khasakThiruvananthapuram: ‘Khasakkinte Ithihasam’ (The legends of Khasak), the path-breaking Malayalam classic by eminent novelist and cartoonist O V Vijayan is getting a ‘sculptured version’, the first such adaptation of any literary masterpiece in the country.

The situations and characters of the work published in the 1960s have been recreated through more than 100 granite sculptures by a group of craftsmen.

The novel’s iconic characters like the grey-bearded Allah-Picha Mullakka, village belle Mymoona, the retarded Appukkili, oracle Kuttadan Poosari and the young protagonist Ravi, whose spiritual questions take him to a single-teacher school in a sleepy hamlet in Palakkad, will come alive in granite at the entrance of Thazrak, the locale of the story.

Significant episodes of the novel centring round the existential dilemmas of the characters, symbolic images, landscape and other settings of the novel will have a re-birth at the gateway of the remote village.

The project was conceived by the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC), with the support of voluntary construction agency Costford. The sculpting, which began last May, is over and they will soon be shifted to an open-air gallery for display.

A team of six sculptors, led by V K Rajan, have given life to the characters and images in stone, which all have a cult-life status in the minds of literary enthusiasts. They claim that collective team work and in-depth reading of the novel helped them give justice to the original work.

“This is the first time any literary work is being translated into sculptures in the country. Though it was just another project for us initially, it has now become a significant episode in the life of each member of our team,” Rajan informed.

Acclaimed as Vijayan’s magnum opus, “Khasakkinte Ithihasam” revolves around Ravi, who comes to the village school as a teacher with haunted memories of his past. The story progresses through his spiritual quest and various characters whom he meets at the hamlet. Innovative narrative style and intermingling of fantasy and realism has earned the novel legendary status among its readers.

Besides Rajan, Johns Mathew, Joseph M Varghese, Ho Chi Minh, Murugan and Venu, all known for their unique styles and specializations, are other artists involved in the project. They have carved out a total of 106 ‘stone relief sculptures’ based on the novel.

The significant images in the book like the single teacher school of the village, the ‘othu palli’ (madrassah), the ‘daiva pura’ of Kuttadan Poosari, the tea shop of Aliyaar, the ‘thumbikal’ (dragonflies) of Appukkili have been immortalized in granite by the artists.

The swaying palm trees, ‘chuuttan mayil’ (peacock), vavval (bat), oonth (chameleon) and butterfly, some of the prominent presences in the novel which marked the nature and bio-environ of the village, also find a place among the sculptures.

“Khasakkinte Ithihasam is one of the few novels in Malayalam that has left a deep impression in the minds of literary buffs. So naturally the challenges were aplenty. Unlike just carving out some images, we tried to feel the depth of each character and bring out their soulful portraits,” Rajan said.

The characters and images, to be recreated, were selected after a series of readings and discussions. Detailed sketches were drawn before carving out each sculpture. Around four tons of granite was used for the entire project and the stones were brought from a quarry in Shornur.

DTPC initially planned to install these sculptures at a 30-feet-high gate at the village entrance. However, following suggestions from literary enthusiasts, they are now considering a plan to install them at an open-air gallery in the hamlet, sources added.


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