Wood: Sheesham or Mango wood is commonly used. It is sourced from the surrounding forests. The wood is mostly obtained from forests by Muslim community of the village.
Colour stones: Readily available in the local shops, these stones are then powdered and mixed with water and gum to make natural colors.
Gum: Gum is usually taken into account to make the colour solution viscous. In old times the gum was brought by Bhil community who used to exchange gum for food. Nowadays gum is easily available in general stores lining the local market of Bassi.
Metal hinges: Contemporary carpenters, keep these metal hinges handy, as doors and windows are mostly pivoted on these hinges. Hinges that were used earlier were hand forged; they were attached to the wood with the help of a nail and a plate.
Paints and brushes: The storytellers also utilize commonly available artist colours and brushes to paint and render their drawings; these are available in local stationary shops.
Varnish: A common substance in carpentry, it is used to provide glossy finish to the wood.
As Suthars have been practicing carpentry since centuries, the Kaavad manufacturing methods have evolved efficiently, craftsmen ensure that minimal amount of wood is wasted. The wooden scrap is then either used in firewood or used in making wood paste for filling cracks in the wood.
Tools & Technology
The tools used are basic ones used in regional carpentry. Their local names are Basola, Reti, Tankla, Badi reti, Guniya, Kasariya, Prakaar, Jammur, Radda, Hathodi, Karot.
Kaavadiya bhats are invited into the houses of their patrons to sing or tell the folk tales and narrate history through their Kaavad, the arrival of Kaavadiya is celebrated by offering them money and food. Patrons take pride in the stories of their ancestors and new generations are made aware about various folk tales prevalent in the region since centuries.
Building the shrine
The Suthars first build the shrine using wood. The frame is made in six levels. The prototype of every part of the frame is available with the carpenter. They trace the outlines of these on pieces of wood and cut them out using the saw. These pieces are then assembled together to make the complete setup.
Treating the wood
The framework is then fumigated to avoid infestation by insects and termites. It is placed over mesh which covers a small furnace. The frame is wrapped in a jute cloth to trap the fumes inside. It takes upto twenty minutes to one hour. Any cracks or deformities in the wood become visible at this stage. These cracks are filled with a mixture of wood powder and fevicol.
The storyboard is made on paper; the story is split into frames keeping in the mind the dimensions of the Kaavad. When the craftsman starts the final drawing on Kaavad with the brush, this paper serves as the reference.
The colouring starts with the process called 'Khadi Potna' which means applying white paint or distemper on the frame. Once this coat dries, a red colour is applied throughout as the base colour. Yellow borders are made after applying the base colour and boxes are demarcated as panels for the stories.
Gora colour is the first colour which is filled for the faces. The second is Asmani or blue, used only to colour incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The eyes are completed last with white colour. The black outline is done in the end, using soot or kohl.
Small white dots are put around the figures after the outlines. This is called 'Moti lagana'.
To make the surface look smooth and glossy, a varnish is applied on Kaavad. This step also ensures the longevity of Kaavad's storyboard.