What Is The Best Wood For A Sculpture: Durability

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Kaashtha (काष्ठ), Daaru (दारु) Lakadi (लकड़ी), wood has many names in Indian culture which tell us about wood’s significance for the country and its tradition from the ancient times. Trees and plants such as Aama (mango), Peepal, Neem, Tulsi, and Shami are considered holy and abode of the divine element in the Hindu religion. Textual authorities on the art and science of icon-making list wood as one of the purest materials useful in making the idol of the Hindu gods and goddesses. The sculptor is advised to look for the best quality wood from auspicious trees, that grow in a sacred ambiance, have an attractive surface, and result in durable woodwork. The concern of the Indian artist is to sculpt a murti that is aesthetically alluring and durable, fitting the potency of the god or goddess it is supposed to house.

There are several kinds of wood used by Indian wood crafters for carving their stunning icons. These woods are chosen keeping in mind the rules laid down by ancient Shilpashastra and the requirement of Hindu Puja, in which the divine idol is treated regularly with Snana (ritual bathing), rubbing  fragrant pastes such as Sandalwood paste and heat and light from the ritual lamp or Diya. Let us have a look at a few of these timeless woods here.

  1. Cedar Wood

This wood is devotedly called “Devadaru” (Deva- god, Daru-wood) and grows in the hilly regions of north India. Devadaru or Deodar (Cedar Wood) is softwood with insect-repellent qualities, rich colors, and durability that makes it suitable for carving god idols. The surface of the wood is easy to cut allowing the artist to sculpt finer patterns and give a seamless finish to the woodwork. Cedar wood is a light wood that enables you to move and clean artwork fashioned out of it.

 2. Teakwood

“Sagaun” or teakwood is obtained from trees that sprawl across the Indian subcontinent. It is one of the most rigid and durable woods, trusted by the sailors in medieval times for the construction of their ships and boats! Teakwood quite literally can survive for a lifetime while braving weather and pest without much maintenance, which makes it one of the best base materials for a durable and beautiful wood icon. Its natural color and texture on an old idol give it an amazing lacquered appearance which adds to the artistic quality of the woodwork.

41" Large Superfine Shri Rama Darbar with Prabhavali | Teakwood Statue

3. Camphor Wood

Karpoora (Sanskrit) or Kapoora, this wood has multiple uses in the Hindu ritual. A white-colored substance obtained from the wood and bark of Camphor is used in a Hindu Puja to perform the Aarti of the Lord. Its wood has a distinctive aroma associated with purity and spirituality, one that also emanates from the woodwork carved from Camphor wood. Durable and pest-resistance, Camphor wood is used by artists to sculpt various religious idols with an aesthetic quality that comes from the whitish hue of the wood. 

4. Kadamba Wood

A favorite of the Hindu blue-skinned god Sri Krishna, Kadamba wood and tree are deeply rooted in India’s religion and history. Its wood is used majorly by the woodworkers of Karnataka, a state whose royal dynasty, the Kadambas also got their name from this divine tree. The "Mahishasuramardini Stotram" describes that the Jagadamba Parvati is delighted while living in the grooves of Kadamba. Besides its cultural connections, the wood of the Kadamba tree is more affordable and easy to work with in comparison to other varieties of wood. It offers exquisite wood icons that are moderately durable. 

5. Vengai Wood

“God’s Tree” in Tamil Nadu, also known as “Merbau” and “Kwila” in Karnataka, the Vengai tree is another holy tree that is famed the world over for its durability, resistance to insects and lustrous texture upon finishing. Vengai wood is extremely sturdy which makes it a good choice for idols as well as other elements in the Hindu shrine such as pillars, aureole, and Manai (chowki or seat). The surface of Vengai wood is easy to paint, allowing the artist to add vibrant colors to the idols, giving them an excellent form that persists.

The mastery of Indian woodworkers is in no way limited to making religious icons. From wooden Puja temples that are miniature versions of ancient Hindu shrines to wooden cabinets and boxes that enhance your home décor with a touch of Indian-ness. Enchanting icons of Apsaras (celestial nymphs) and wooden Yalis that bring vigor to space, the skills of Hindu craftsmen create magnificent woodwork for every room and corner of your house.

Looking to add the outstanding durability of Indian woodwork to your home? Exotic India Art is your gateway to the awe-inspiring wood statues and much more, that will forever be in your home, with the essence of India.

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