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Friday, July 11, 2008

Indian Art and Craft : Stone Carvings - 23

The art of stone carving developed in India, a little later than wood carving. From ornate inlay with onyx black marble to the finely latticed soapstone, the appeal of the stone has been eternal. Both Hindu and Muslim rulers of India patronized this art. The craft in Uttar Pradesh reached artistic heights of excellence during the Mughal period when the Taj Mahal was created.

The craftsman's mastery over stone is best discovered in the architecture and sculptures found in Khajuraho temples. The intricate carvings found at Sanchi are amongst the finest found anywhere in the world. Bodh Gaya, a pilgrim site for the Buddhists also has an ancient tradition of stone carving.

Nothing epitomizes best the ethos of Varanasi and Agra than their stone carvings. From intricate architectural masterpieces, perfectly chiselled stoneware to table-tops with inlay work, every item is a piece of exclusive artwork. For centuries, Mathura and Varansi remained at the centre stage of development.

In the 3rd century B.C., the imperial court of Ashoka provided a great boost to the art of stone carving. The stupas and cave temples of this period are perhaps the earliest surviving stone structures. The red sandstone of Chunar has been lavishly used in the stone sculptures, which were found in excavations of Mathura and Agra areas dating back to the Maurya era.

Ancient carvers were guided by the "Shilpa Shastra", which clearly laid the rules for them. The main deity was carved by specialists who were knowledgeable in the properties of different stones, their grain, as well as their proportion needed for the carving.

Carving the deity was considered an act of worship and a sacred ritual. Stone temples are built even today and the Sthapthis of Tamil Nadu as well as the Somapuras of Gujarat and Rajasthan are in good demand throughout the country.

Agra is famous for its marble stone works. Many pieces like lattice windows, mirror frames, carved brackets, canopies, pendants and filigree works are carved here. The craftsmen are known for their inlay works. Rajasthan maintains a rich tradition of stone carving even in the common domestic buildings. Door frames are commonly built of red stones. Windows have stone trellis works and even the supporting frame for the loom is made of carved stones. Jaipur is one of the most important centers where a large community of stone carvers carve deities in marble.

In Orissa, soft stones are used for carving small souvenir items, meant for sale to the tourists. Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu has hard granite stone carvings. There is also a school for training the Sthapathis according to the rules of the "Shilpa Shastra". In Karnataka, Devanahalli a village near Mysore produces carved figures in relief on black stone. the figures appear to have movement and strength in their postures. The figures not only have the effect of light and shade and a rounded from but also a linear quality. Drugi, In Andhra Pradesh is another stone carving centre where large nandis, bulls, and local deity images are carved.

Ivory carving is one of the most ancient crafts of India. Ivory is a precious material and a difficult one to carve. The important center for ivory carvings were Trivandrum in Kerala. Mysore and Bangalore in Karnataka, Delhi Jaipur and Jodhpur in Rrajasthan, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Amritsar in Punjab, Benrampore in West Bengal and Ganjam and Purin in Orissa. Of late this craft is dying as the Indian Government has banned elephant poaching and ivory-work. Hence the carvers arr turning onto other crafts, in particular, bone carving. The tribals are usually associated with this craft. the Himalayan tribals practice this craft for making ritual items. In Orissa, bone carvings of animal figures are common.

Related Links:

01. Indian Art and Craft : The Living Age - 1
02. Indian Art and Craft : The painting history of India - 2
03. Indian Art and Craft : India the home of Painting - 3
04. Indian Art and Craft : Ajanta Paintings - 4
05. Indian Art and Craft : Floor Designs and Madhubani Paintings - 5
06. Indian Art and Craft : Art of body painting - 6
07. Indian Art and Craft : Shekhavati - India's Open Air Art Gallery - 7
08. Indian Art and Craft : Contemporary Painting - 8
09. Indian Art and Craft : Crafts Traditions- 9
10. Indian Art and Craft : Metal Work - 10
11. Indian Art and Craft : Metal Work and Engraving - 11
12. Indian Art and Craft : Sculpture - The Essence of Art - 12
13. Indian Art and Craft : Jewellery Styles - Meenakshi and Kunda - 13
14. Indian Art and Craft : Nagaland, Assam, TamilNadu Jewellery - 14
15. Indian Art and Craft : Carpets and Textiles of India (Indian History of Carpets) - 15
16. Indian Art and Craft : Carpets from Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan - 16
17. Indian Art & Craft : Sarees and Fabrics - 17
18. Indian Art & Craft : Sarees and Fabrics from various states - 18
19. Indian Art & Craft : Sarees from other states - 19
20. Indian Art and Craft : Kanjeevarm, Gharchola, Katwa, Sujini and Kantha Sarees - 20
21. Indian Art and Craft : Wood Work - 21
22. Indian Art and Craft : Wood Work form various states of India - 22
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