The woman who had posed in front of celebrated sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman for the making of world famous Yakshi sculpture at the Malampuzha park, near here, died on Wednesday.
Nafeesa aka Nabeesumma passed away without being acknowledged for her role in the making of the Yakshi.
She was in the news when Kanayi visited her at hospital last year during the golden jubilee celebrations of the Yakshi. Although the government and the Lalithakala Akademi had ignored Nafeesa and the four others who had helped the sculptor during the two years he spent sculpting it from 1967, Kanayi acknowledged her service by paying a visit to her.
The 30-ft-tall sculpture of a nude woman in sitting position has won widespread attention and appreciation not only because of its posture, but also because of its size and figure. When Kanayi modelled the Yakshi’s upper portion, especially the bust, on the nude image of a western woman, it was Nafeesa who posed for the statue’s legs.
Nafeesa’s co-workers Velayudhan and Pazhaniswami recounted how she sat with her skirt raised up to her knees. They said she never had to reveal her body. She had sat in front of the sculptor with her legs stretched out, showing her robust shanks.
Nafeesa was one of the five workers assigned by the Irrigation Department to help Kanayi. Two others had died earlier.
The government had celebrated the statue’s golden jubilee by organising a 12-day Yakshi Yanam programme in February-March last year, by bringing in artists from across the country. But the neglect of those involved in the making of the iconic sculpture had evoked strong criticism.
The Samskara Sahiti, a cultural wing of the Congress, had felicitated the workers when the government insisted that their service would not be acknowledged.
“We do not have to invoke any politics or affiliation when acknowledging the services of those involved in this world class sculpture. It’s a matter of acknowledging a simple human act. Humanity has to find priority here,” said Sahiti district chairman Boban Mattumantha.
Mr. Mattumantha and District Congress Committee vice president Sumesh Achuthan paid homage to Nafeesa at her house at Malampuzha.