Wood carving using special wood like sandal, sheesham and rosewood is done to create some beautiful handicraft items showing symbols of rich Indian cultural heritage. This is one of the old art-form in India and done is few of the states like Rajasthan. You must have seen wood-carved elephants, peacocks and other cultural symbols in various handicraft shops across the country, but lot more than that is created by Wood-carving artsists for special clients, museums and some exclusive art-galleries. During our recent trip to Churu, we met a family of artists who have been doing this for many years now and various memebers of the family have got national awards for creating some exceptional art-pieces of wood-carving. This family has some records in Limca book as well. This was a great rendezvous, which exposed us to another great art-form of India.
While we were roaming around Churu streets full of old Havelis, we realized that every haveli had beautiful wooden doors carved with beautiful designs on them and most of the furniture, windows and chattris were wood-carved. All this shows that how important this art would have been in old times as well. Most of the palaces and forts across the country have rich wood-carved art-pieces. Another great example comes to my mind is - Indian Institute of Advanced studies in Shimla which is Viceregal Lodge. I am sure that India must have many families doing this work in old days, but not very sure how this art-form is performing these days and how much demand we have. Maintaining these art-pieces is very challenging and everybody may not be able to afford good wood-carved art-pieces. Here I am not talking about the smaller elephants & peacocks.
Here is the family of Wood-Carving artists. Don't be surprised if I say that the little boy also does carving, although his father says that he wastes lot of wood as of now :). But still taking such lovely art form further is a big thing and I really salute such families in India who are preserving these important art for next generations. Wood carving art is shown as xyloglyphy. The artists carve design on wood by hand with some sharp carving tools as you can see in the photograph on left. It is a traditional art which is extremely popular in India and abrpoad. This family has made so many wooden souvenirs which are in a great demand in Delhi as well as some specific families abroad. They usually give these art-works to gallerys, 5 star hotels and handicraft emporiums in Delhi to sell and also get direct orders from existing clients who are different parts of the world now. Rajasthan is one of the renowned states of India for its excellence in wood carving. Churu has few more families like this but this one is very special which is recognized by state and center government for many years. Different generations of this family has got national awards for wood-carving art. Rajasthan has high number of people involved in wood carving.
This family uses sandal wood to create some marvelous art pieces by craving very intricate designs on them. This Photo Journey has one of the beautiful example to share. The art-forms made of sandalwood are the most famous among the other wooden artifacts for its sweet fragrance and it seems that sandalwood is most appropriate for intricate carving. At the same time, sandalwood art-pieces are most expensive amongst the all. Apart from states like Rajasthan, Mysore, Tirupati, Madurai, Coimbatore in Tamilnadu, Delhi and Varanasi are few of the main areas to find wood-carving artists in India. btw, Sandal is known as 'chandan' in Hindi.
The tiny instruments used for sandalwood carving are extremely simple.Things like a saw, plane, mallet hone or fine-grained hard stone, an assortment of various shapes and sizes of chisels and a few engraving tools, which were very delicate. The photograph on the left shows a box in the bottom with all tiny tools used for wood carving. Also a closer look of these tools is shared in very first photograph of this Photo Journey. First a design is made on wood with pencil, at times paper is pasted to ensure that wood color is intact after the project is over. Then a basic outline is made with one of the carving equipments. Slowing this outline becomes the basic carved design and then starts the real art of making each corner of the design elegant to look as a masterpiece. Last finishing steps is to ensure the perfectness and light/shade patterns, appropriate curves and texture.
Above photograph shows a flower carved out of a sandalwood piece. Isn't it amazing. But hold on, this one is very basic as per there artists. btw, the upper part can be collapsed and it looks like a rose. The most popular articles carved out of sandal wood are elephants, peacocks, square figures and rectangular boxes to keep jewellery, photo frames, key chains and chess sets etc. These are few which are easily accessible in handicraft shops in different cities of India.
Let me share some details about this amazing art-work created by this family. This is a creation to simulate the pocket clock with a string. The above photograph shows the clock with a wooden string. Here notice the designs carved out of this sandalwood piece and one thing which I want to highlight that - this whole creation is made out of single sandal-wood piece without any joints which is brilliant. Before I say further, you may have guesses things from the other photographs shown on both sides. Two parts of the clock can come out and inside them, we have few more creations. On one side, when we open it, we see Tajmahal. Story doesn't end here. There is another creation under the Tajmahal. When we unfold it, there is a a grave under it as we have in real Tajmahal. Again this grave could be opened to see the body. Please see the photograph below to have a closer look. This was very tiny. Can you imagine the way this whole creation would have been made. As per artist, this creation took 5 months to complete or may be more. He showed us many of such creations.
Wood carving in Rajasthan and other states of India is one of the important art form. And it was great to know that state government and Govt of India recognize these folks for their great work. While compiling this Photo Journey, I came a across a link which is listing various national awards for artists of Rajasthan - http://www.jawaharkalakendra.rajasthan.gov.in/nationallist.htm .
Here is the list of awardees form Jangid clan of Churu, Rajasthan -
Malchand Jangid (1971) - http://www.jawaharkalakendra.rajasthan.gov.in/nationallist.htm
Shri Sita Ram Jangid - http://www.rajsico.gov.in/Artisan.html
Chothmal Jangid -http://www.jawaharkalakendra.rajasthan.gov.in/nationallist.htm
Pawan Kumar Jangid -http://www.jawaharkalakendra.rajasthan.gov.in/nationallist.htm
Vinod Kumar Jangid -http://www.jawaharkalakendra.rajasthan.gov.in/nationallist.htm
Mahesh Chand Jangid -http://www.jawaharkalakendra.rajasthan.gov.in/nationallist.htm
We are looking for more such families who are indulged in some form of art for generations. So please keep us updated, in case you know someone.