Lau Tumba

Lau Tumba (dry bottle gourd) is Odisha’s another exquisite form of art. Lau which is a vegetable is used to make elegant artworks. Adivasis (Tribal people) carved these dry bottle gourds to carry food and to store seeds. Many traditional instruments were also carved out of these dry bottle gourds. These are found mostly in the forests of Malkangiri, Koraput, Nabrangpur, and Rayagada districts of Odisha.

Tribal peoples harvest these bottle gourds when they are raw and then store them to fully ripen. The complete ripening can be determined by the change in colour from green to yellow. During this time, the bottle gourd plant dies completely. Even after the plant dies completely, the bottle gourd is kept completely in burning sunshine so that the bottle gourd will be left with no watery substance and the bottle gourd becomes completely dry.

Some artists prefer keeping the bottle gourd, hanging from the rooftop upon a furnace. Due to the fire and fumes produced in the furnace, the bottle gourd’s watery substance becomes completely dry. With this, the bottle gourd starts taking a copper-like colour. When the bottle gourd is completely dry, it attains a stage with extreme strength that cannot be broken easily and can be used for a long period. The shape of the bottle gourd looks like an inflated balloon and hence according to the locals, it is named “Tumba” which means an inflated balloon.

All the seeds from the dried bottle gourd are taken out hence forming the shape of the bottle. This dried bottle gourd is used to conserve all types of seeds for a long time. When the dried bottle gourd is cut longitudinally, it acts as a utensil for serving. Although Lau Tumba is made up of vegetables it is never attacked by insects. Hence, it lasts long. As time passed by, plastic bottles emerged into existence and the use of Lau Tumba was gradually forgotten. Times have changed and now this Lau Tumba has taken a new form. Lau Tumba is now carved out to make home decors and has reached many parts of India as well as foreign countries. Thanks to the promotion and marketing by local artists.

Since this type of bottle gourd is not edible, this craft is the best out of waste and has become a source of income for the tribal people. The artists make models of animals and birds, hangings and wall decoration, lamps, and statues by using the ‘Lau Tumbas’. This art has been showcased in various exhibitions in different parts of the country.