(Last Updated on : 01/11/2012)
Woodcrafts of India are famous since ages and probably one of the most primitive arts. Woodcarving is an ancient craft practised in India long before the age of ancient stone sculptural age. Indian wood worker designated as sutradhar has always held a high position in the society. Wood which was an obvious choice for fuel and making of tools in ancient times has its voluptuous use in public via private walks of life, ranging from pillars, to doors, window to household articles.
Woodcraft is the artistic practice of shaping and decorating wooden objects into diverse ways often crafted to form various utilitarian and decorative handicrafts items. Skilled craftsmen of each state create handicrafts using wood that at first infests the regional market then ventures to detain the foreign ones. The regional concentration: the accessibility of cheap labour, the invested capital etc backs the pinnacle of splendour and perfection of these craft form. Mainpur
in Uttar Pradesh
is also known for its woodwork inlaid with brass wire on ebony or black sheesham. The states of Jammu & Kashmir
, Uttar Pradesh
have conceptually urbanized distinctive styles of woodcarvings. Even Rajasthan is noted for its carved sandalwood and rosewood besides silhouetting the industrial horizon with heavy ornamental furniture.
Ancient India highlights wood as a medium for manufacturing daily usable items, utensils, axes, toys and dolls for children crafted with wood. Excavations at Indus valley civilization have proved the existence of woodcrafts. From simple forms, basic shapes and crude utilitarian wares, Indian woodcrafts developed and spread its wings to become one of the most beautiful and arty handicrafts of the subcontinent. Due to easy availability of varieties of wood, wood handicrafts could develop freely and gave a distinctive characteristic to the woodcrafts of each state.
The most common varieties used to make Indian handicrafts are teak, sal, oak, mango, ebony and mahogany. Sandalwood, sheesham, rosewood and walnut are the fascinating varieties but expensive used in producing fine pieces of furniture and decorative items. There has been a consequent flow of breaths of Renaissance amongst traditional and antique woodcraft, owning to its uniqueness. Indian artisans are categorically hell bent on screening the silver lining while experimenting with designs to create a blend of traditional and modern woodcraft, the Indo-western archetype.
Wooden boxes are chiselled out of exotic wood and finished with intricate carvings used for different purposes, varied in designs. Wooden Jewellery Box has intricate carvings, brass inlay and hammered metal, hand crafted by master craftsmen. The skills are reflected in the exotic woods that are veneered and inlaid with designs, and attractive bandings. Available in finishes of Oak, Walnut, Mahogany jewellery boxes have crushed velvet interior in red, green, purple, and blue colour. Wooden gift boxes are excellent for packaging gift items meant for distance transportation durable and user friendly. Sometimes the messages are also engraved within the boxes to bear the testimony of special occasions.
Beautifully carved out of wood, the wooden boxes named caskets are mainly enclosures for jewellery having intricate carvings, brass inlay and hammered. The skills of the master craftsmen are reflected through the exotic woods veneered and inlaid with designs, and attractive bandings. Available in finishes of Oak, Walnut, Mahogany jewellery boxes have crushed velvet interior in red, green, purple, and blue colour wooden jewellery boxes are intrepidly finished and smooth to touch. These luxurious jewellery boxes not only protect the stored jewellery but are excellent gift items also.
Wooden Pen holders are crafted out of wood to hold pen engraved with designs, boxes available in single as well as double units. Made out of variety of woods, handcrafted wooden pen boxes are available in many finishes, styles and techniques. Wooden music boxes are enchanting collectibles, which are uniquely amiable and mellifluously romantic. With inlaid floral designs, imprinted with paintings and finished in lacquer, the wooden music boxes are meticulously hand crafted. Made of wood the music boxes come in various shapes - round, heart-shape, rectangular, and octagonal and can also be used as jewellery boxes. The elaborate collection of wooden decorative items like Candle Holders, Napkin Rings, Picture Frames, Wall Hangings, Mirror Frames, Wooden Coasters, Ash Trays, Clocks, Letter holders, Name Plates comprise of a variety of artefacts and decorative pieces that truly compliments the d‚cor and imparts an elegant look with its convoluted carvings.
Scenes from Indian epics, particularly from the battlefield, forest and palaces include the themes for wood carving in India since ages. The tradition reached its paramount excellence between 1420 and 1470, when king Zain-ul-Abadin built his capital, which testified to the richness of this heritage. The Kashmiri craftsman, however, rejoices in carving obscure and varied designs based on lively natural forms. A variety of carved products bear recurrent motifs of the rose, lotus and iris, bunches of grapes or pears and chinar leaves. Lhasa dragon motifs and pattans taken from Kani and embroidered shawls all find their place in wooden objects with deep relief carving.
Carved walnut woodwork is among the most important crafts of Kashmir. The wood is hard and durable, it is close grain and even texture facilitating fine and detailed work also presenting visually interesting effects with mere plain polished surfaces. Double-grooved battens hold thin sheets of wood together. The wooden sheets are cut into geometric shapes using a template to ensure that the pieces can be interchanged. These modules are fitted into the grooves of the battens and a repeat pattern is built up. Man, in his exuberance, seems to have devised further method of ornamenting wood by lacquering in which countless designs and colours can be executed. Udaipur
has a long tradition in lacquer ware. The kheradees are the traditional wood workers, enjoying a respectable position in the community.
Plain lac ornamentation of wood creates the striped patterns in resplendent blending of colour with the designs varying from zig or dana work, atishi or fire, abri or cloud, nakashi etc. The products made are usually tables, tea poys, lamps, decorative plates, chakla and belan, toys, pidis, small stools and so on. Lac is heated to get its plastic form. Then, the colours are added with simultaneous hammering and kneading to be made into sticks. The wooden article on which the lac has to be applied is smoothened by rubbing it with fine pottery powder. After this it is put on a lathe and rotated, while the lac stick is pressed against it. The friction softens the lac, which is then smeared all over. To apply more than one colour, the spots are left blank where more rounds are taken to cover up each with a different tint. A lac turner spins out his designs in various colours with a sharp chisel. A marble polish is given by rubbing with a bamboo edge and then with an oil rag. Ornamental lacquering involves zig - zig and dana work, atishi or fire abri or cloud, nakashi and etched nakashi, painted decorative work. A number of layers, usually four of lacquer in different shades, are made one over the other. On this the craftsman works out the design using chisel, and then scraps out the colours. Colour centrism ranges between opaque and translucent as per choice and availability.
Wood carving, one of Karnataka
`s oldest crafts inflated the doors and ceilings of temples and temple chariots. The most popular and praiseworthy example of it, however, is the sandalwood carvings, a hereditary household craft, going back several generations. An abundance of sandalwood in the forests of Karnataka provides an ideal medium for delicate craftsmanship to that class of artisans popularly known as the Gudigars. Karnataka is famous for rosewood articles that lend itself better to carving in the round than any other technique. Mostly modern furniture pieces and considerable variety of elephant figures, which are in great demand, are made in rose wood having a superb example of structural carvings from ancient temples to modern palaces, with the massive over-door frames, bracketed pillars and architecture in several styles, varying in treatment plus technique.
The types of carving are in round, in relief, chip, incised and piercing. First the object is totally detached from the background wood, therefore carving in the round of a human or animal figure calls for the utmost skill as the figure viewed from any angle, must maintain its correct identity. In relief, the figure is etched and can be high when it stands out boldly or flat as in low relief. Chip consists of design being evolved by chipping the wood used mostly in ornamental and decorative work where incising is done without groundwork, mainly for flower and creeper traceries. Piercing is for effective ornamentation in which the wood is completely cut away leaving just the design and so calls for extra skill. There are two varieties in sandalwood- srigandha, (close grained and yellowish brown in colour) and nagagandha (darkish brown) from which oil is extracted. Sometimes rosewood and more often yellow teak are used for minor parts like pedestals, backboards or border pieces, to keep the costs down.