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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The tradition of wood carving in India and Punjab.


The art of creating elaborate designs in wood by hand, with the help of various carving tools is known as wood carving. Wood carving may vary from floral and traditional motifs to geometrical or abstract patterns and varies greatly between cultures. Carving wooden handicrafts is a laborious process as a great deal of attention and skill needs to be paid to every little detail. Wood carving has been practiced by humans since the earliest civilizations and has been found widespread throughout the globe. In India, wood carving has a long and distinguished history especially the Punjab region. Wood carving in India is a traditional art which is passed on by master craftsmen through the generations. Carving involves shaping wood to make objects of utility and chiseling parts of wood to form intricate designs, with the help of hand tools. Articles of daily use like rolling pins, ladles, walking sticks, and combs are made from softwoods, while exotic wood like sandalwood, ebony, walnut, rosewood and teak are used to carve items of decorative value.
Indian craftsmen are known for a wide range of wooden handicrafts like furniture, decorative panels, wooden screens, toys, spoons, bowls, trays, vases, book stands, jewel boxes, window frames, masks, idols, photo frames, chess sets and beads. In India, each region has developed its own style of structures and carvings. Local traditions and locally available wood varieties have been very influencial in these styles.
Architectural remains from Kashmir Smats in Punjab from the 3rd century show wood carvings while old havelis in Punjab had carved doors and windows. Wood carvings are prominent on many ancient Hindu temples throughout India which were often decorated with various carvings in teak and other woods. The doors of the teniple of Somnath for example were famed for their carved design and are valued as sacred relics. Wood carved temples still stand in Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Karnataka is specialised in sandalwood carving. Earlier they carved sandalwood idols of their deities but now sandalwood boxes are their specialty. The Srigandha variety of sandalwood is used for this purpose. They have a distinctive aroma that sets them apart from other woods. Large boxes covered with mythological scenes are an important product of Mysore, Kumta and Sagar. In south Kanara, look for life-size wood carvings of Buddha. Mysore city developed an intricate form of ivory - inlay on wood. The ceilings and doors of Mysore Palace are expressions of this special skill of its artisans.
Assam, which has extensive forests, has a rich tradition of wood works. Their places of worship included large carvings of mythical figures like half-man, garuda, hanuman, and lions with a Simhasan where the deity is worshipped.
In Kashmir, the houses are lined with wood, with ceilings worked in geometrical patterns and lattice - worked windows made up of pieces of wood locally known as Pinjara. The state also produces many wood carved items such furniture, screens, boxes, and bowls. These are mostly prepared from walnut wood, which is in abundant in Kashmir. A special craft called Khatamband has a long history in Kashmir where crafters decorate wood panels used for ceilings and pillars.
Tamilnadu has a well developed tradition of woodcarving used for decorating houses and temples. The wooden Tanjore dolls, similar to Tirupathi red dolls in Andhra Pradesh and Punki wood dolls in Kondapalli, form a part of the rituals followed in Tamilnadu and are also used for educating small children.
Kerala state has one of the richest traditions in woodcarving. The houses here have carved pillars and beams. Most of the houses have a carved family temple. Kerala wood carvers also work wonders on sandalwood and rosewood. Kerala woodcarvings have strength of form, which is reminiscent of the murals and dance forms of the area. Large wood carved figures are prepared in the round as well as in relief work.
Sankheda in Gujarat is an important center for lathe-worked lacquered furniture. The surface is painted with designs on a lacquered background. This is used to give silver-like effect. Bedposts and cradles and toys for kids are also made here.
Surat has a tradition of marquetry work, which is also called Sadeli. In this, different materials like ivory, ebony, sandalwood, metal having different textures and colors are used. These materials are made into strips with their width shaped as triangles, squares and circles. These are then joined by gum to get a geometrical pattern. They are then cut across into thin strips and pasted on a wooden background, mostly boxes. Wooden blocks for printing in textiles are also made in Gujarat. The design is first stenciled on the wood and then the intervening spaces are chipped out.
While wood carving has declined in popularity throughout the world over the years, the continued survival of the art and craft of woodcarving proves that it is a timeless art form. The large number of woodcarvers, many of whom come from generations of woodcarvers, carry on the proud tradition in India and different parts of the world. For example, one of the most renowned Indian craftman, Avtarjeet Dhanjal, himself a descendent in a line of woodworkers, is a diverse artist that also creates a line of limited edition chess sets. His limited edition chess sets represent the long tradition of craftsmanship and quality that has come from the many talented woodworkers from India.
The art of creating elaborate designs in wood by hand, with the help of various carving tools is known as wood carving. Wood carving may vary from floral and traditional motifs to geometrical or abstract patterns and varies greatly between cultures. Carving wooden handicrafts is a laborious process as a great deal of attention and skill needs to be paid to every little detail. Wood carving has been practiced by humans since the earliest civilizations and has been found widespread throughout the globe. In India, wood carving has a long and distinguished history especially the Punjab region. Wood carving in India is a traditional art which is passed on by master craftsmen through the generations. Carving involves shaping wood to make objects of utility and chiseling parts of wood to form intricate designs, with the help of hand tools. Articles of daily use like rolling pins, ladles, walking sticks, and combs are made from softwoods, while exotic wood like sandalwood, ebony, walnut, rosewood and teak are used to carve items of decorative value.
Indian craftsmen are known for a wide range of wooden handicrafts like furniture, decorative panels, wooden screens, toys, spoons, bowls, trays, vases, book stands, jewel boxes, window frames, masks, idols, photo frames, chess sets and beads. In India, each region has developed its own style of structures and carvings. Local traditions and locally available wood varieties have been very influencial in these styles.
Architectural remains from Kashmir Smats in Punjab from the 3rd century show wood carvings while old havelis in Punjab had carved doors and windows. Wood carvings are prominent on many ancient Hindu temples throughout India which were often decorated with various carvings in teak and other woods. The doors of the teniple of Somnath for example were famed for their carved design and are valued as sacred relics. Wood carved temples still stand in Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Karnataka is specialised in sandalwood carving. Earlier they carved sandalwood idols of their deities but now sandalwood boxes are their specialty. The Srigandha variety of sandalwood is used for this purpose. They have a distinctive aroma that sets them apart from other woods. Large boxes covered with mythological scenes are an important product of Mysore, Kumta and Sagar. In south Kanara, look for life-size wood carvings of Buddha. Mysore city developed an intricate form of ivory - inlay on wood. The ceilings and doors of Mysore Palace are expressions of this special skill of its artisans.
Assam, which has extensive forests, has a rich tradition of wood works. Their places of worship included large carvings of mythical figures like half-man, garuda, hanuman, and lions with a Simhasan where the deity is worshipped.
In Kashmir, the houses are lined with wood, with ceilings worked in geometrical patterns and lattice - worked windows made up of pieces of wood locally known as Pinjara. The state also produces many wood carved items such furniture, screens, boxes, and bowls. These are mostly prepared from walnut wood, which is in abundant in Kashmir. A special craft called Khatamband has a long history in Kashmir where crafters decorate wood panels used for ceilings and pillars.
Tamilnadu has a well developed tradition of woodcarving used for decorating houses and temples. The wooden Tanjore dolls, similar to Tirupathi red dolls in Andhra Pradesh and Punki wood dolls in Kondapalli, form a part of the rituals followed in Tamilnadu and are also used for educating small children.
Kerala state has one of the richest traditions in woodcarving. The houses here have carved pillars and beams. Most of the houses have a carved family temple. Kerala wood carvers also work wonders on sandalwood and rosewood. Kerala woodcarvings have strength of form, which is reminiscent of the murals and dance forms of the area. Large wood carved figures are prepared in the round as well as in relief work.
Sankheda in Gujarat is an important center for lathe-worked lacquered furniture. The surface is painted with designs on a lacquered background. This is used to give silver-like effect. Bedposts and cradles and toys for kids are also made here.
Surat has a tradition of marquetry work, which is also called Sadeli. In this, different materials like ivory, ebony, sandalwood, metal having different textures and colors are used. These materials are made into strips with their width shaped as triangles, squares and circles. These are then joined by gum to get a geometrical pattern. They are then cut across into thin strips and pasted on a wooden background, mostly boxes. Wooden blocks for printing in textiles are also made in Gujarat. The design is first stenciled on the wood and then the intervening spaces are chipped out.
While wood carving has declined in popularity throughout the world over the years, the continued survival of the art and craft of woodcarving proves that it is a timeless art form. The large number of woodcarvers, many of whom come from generations of woodcarvers, carry on the proud tradition in India and different parts of the world. For example, one of the most renowned Indian craftman, Avtarjeet Dhanjal, himself a descendent in a line of woodworkers, is a diverse artist that also creates a line of limited edition chess sets. His limited edition chess sets represent the long tradition of craftsmanship and quality that has come from the many talented woodworkers from India.

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