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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 30 September 2022 4.53 AM IST

A coconut fell in front and Prathap became a coconut sculptor; 7 lakhs for  three-and-a-half feet tall sculpture

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Superstar Mohanlal wants three Ganesha sculptures. As soon as the order came, Prathap started his work. He took four or five coconuts with dry husks and removed everything inside the shell. Prathap makes his sculptures using coconut shells.

Mohanlal had earlier bought the sculptures of Kathakali, Lord Vishnu and Jesus made by Pratap. He gave the order for the new sculpture as he liked them all. Prathap Arjunan, a native of Rajaji Nagar, lives in Vellar near Kovalam. Coconut sculptures are in good demand in America, Russia and Dubai. Pratap participates in tourism fairs in Chicago, Moscow and Dubai at the expense of the central government.

When asked who taught him to make sculptures, 58-year-old Prathap would laugh and say, "Nobody taught me. So, I learned it out of persistence."

There is a flashback to Pratap's story. His father Arjunan used to hire people to make sculptures and then sold these sculptures in other places. "I used to ask the people who came to work if they would teach me how to make sculptures. But they kept me aside by saying, 'You're a little boy, you are not big enough to learn it.' I then began making sculptures by taking the leftovers and fixing them," Prathap says.

"Later I made a sculpture of an elephant in wood. The chisel used to make the sculpture was made by heating an iron wire in the oven and beating it. Now, I design and manufacture machines for sculpting on my own," he added.

At the age of 22, he made banana trees, coconut trees, cashew trees etc. on drawing paper and sold them in Tamil Nadu and Andhra. It eventually grew into a business.

The story of coconut sculpture

One day, while resting at his workspace, Prathap picked up a coconut that fell in front of him and made a monkey out of it out of curiosity. He then kept it in his shop on the East Nada of the Padmanabha Swamy temple. Later, a pilgrim came to his shop and asked its price. When Prathap said that the sculpture is not for sale, the pilgrim put Rs 50 in Prathap's pocket and left the place with the sculpture. That was the beginning. At first, the marketing was done through the SMSM Institute of the state government.

Prathap only needs one coconut and one hour to make small sculptures to be placed on the wall. The price will range from 500 to 600 rupees. It took him four months to complete the three feet tall Ganesha sculpture. The price is Rs 7 lakh. 40 coconuts were used. The Kathakali sculpture, which was made using 30 coconuts, costs 3.5 lakh rupees. In 1995, he won the central government's Best Sculptor Award for his coconut sculptures.

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