The court of Devaraja Indra is said to be glorious due to the presence of Apsaras- divine damsels who have perfected all arts, crafts, and creative endeavors and are exceedingly beautiful. When the Hindu sculptor began constructing the abode of the gods on earth, he recreated a place fit for the heavenly beings, with marvelous architecture, true-to-life sculptures, and icons of Apsaras. Heavenly maidens on the walls and decoration of Hindu temples are one of the most popular and exquisite examples of Hindu iconography- divine, beautiful and auspicious. The large wooden Apsara idol you see here is inspired by the musicians of Swarga, specifically the dholak player or the “Mardala”, filling the environment with vibrant positivity and allure.
Apsara playing the Dholak is carved in a rounded manner, surrounded by a floral
aureole whose centerpiece is a blossoming lotus or Padma, the symbol of eternal
beauty and purity. The Apsara has her hair tied in an elaborate updo, adorned
with chains of jewels and a tiara. A few curls of her hair frame her forehead
pleasingly on which is a small Bindi (dot). Arched eyebrows, large eyes, and
fuller lips bring an exquisite youthfulness to the wooden Apsara idol.
Intricately carved ornaments such as necklaces, armbands, breast ornaments,
bangles, girdles, and anklets are employed in the beautification of the
celestial maiden. Her hands beat the Dholak which appears to be resting against
her legs, which are bending stunningly to strike a lovely dancing pose.
The divine Dholak player seems to be enjoying
the thumps her instrument is producing, which is also mentioned in a treatise
on temple architecture, the Shilpaprakasha- “esha mardala parama, unmatta vaadne ramya”, “this
is the beautiful Mardala, who is intoxicated with her playing of the instrument”.
Her uncomparable youthfulness and suppleness highlighted gorgeously in this
wooden statue fill the ambiance with heavenly bliss. According to the
Shilpaprakasha, Mardala is one of the 16 Alasya Kanya or ladies in relaxed
postures whose presence completes a devalaya or home of gods. The addition of
this wooden statue to your space will make it the perfect place for positive
and divine energies to enter and reside.
How to care for Wood Statues?
Wood is extensively used in sculpting especially in countries like China, Germany, and Japan. One feature that makes the wood extremely suitable for making statues and sculptures is that it is light and can take very fine detail. It is easier for artists to work with wood than with other materials such as metal or stone. Both hardwoods, as well as softwood, are used for making sculptures. Wood is mainly used for indoor sculptures because it is not as durable as stone. Changes in weather cause wooden sculptures to split or be attacked by insects or fungus. The principal woods for making sculptures and statues are cedar, pine, walnut, oak, and mahogany. The most common technique that sculptors use to make sculptures out of wood is carving with a chisel and a mallet. Since wooden statues are prone to damage, fire, and rot, they require proper care and maintenance.
It is extremely important to preserve and protect wooden sculptures with proper care. A little carelessness and negligence can lead to their decay, resulting in losing all their beauty and strength. Therefore, a regular clean-up of the sculptures is a must to prolong their age and to maintain their shine and luster.
Wood has been a preferred material for sculptures and statues
since ancient times. It is easy to work with than most metals and
stones and therefore requires less effort to shape it into any
desired shape or form. The texture of the wood gives an element of
realism to the sculpture. The selection of an appropriate wood
type is necessary for carving. Woods that are too resinous or
coniferous are not considered good for carving as their fiber is
very soft and thus lacks strength. On the other hand, wood such as
Mahogany, Oakwood, Walnut wood, Weet cherry wood, etc., are
preferred by sculptors because their fiber is harder.
A wood sculptor uses various tools such as a pointed chisel in one
hand and a mallet in another to bring the wood to the desired
measurement and to make intricate details on it. A carving knife
is used to cut and smooth the wood. Other tools such as the gouge,
V-tool, and coping saw also serve as important tools in wood
carving. Although the wood carving technique is not as complex and
tough as stone carving or metal sculpting, nonetheless, a wood
carver requires a high level of skills and expertise to create a
The process of wood carving begins with selecting a chunk of wood
that is required according to the type and shape of the statue to
be created by the sculptor. Both hardwoods and softwoods are used
for making artistic pieces, however, hardwoods are preferred more
than softer woods because of their durability and longevity. But
if heavy detailing is to be done on the statue, wood with fine
grain would be needed as it would be difficult to work with
Once the wood type is selected, the wood carver begins the
general shaping process using gouges of various sizes. A gouge
is a tool having a curved cutting edge which is useful in
removing large unwanted portions of wood easily without
splitting the wood. The sculptor always carves the wood across
the grain of the wood and not against it.
When a refined shape of the statue is obtained, it is time for
making details on the statue using different tools. This is
achieved by using tools such as a veiner to make and a V-tool to
create decorative and sharp cuts.
Once finer details have been added, the sculptor is ready to
smoothen the surface and give it a perfect finish. Tools such as
rasps and rifflers are used to get a smooth surface. The finer
polishing is obtained by rubbing the surface with sandpaper. If
a textured surface is required, this step is skipped. Finally,
to protect the statue from excessive dirt accumulation, the
sculptor applies natural oils such as walnut or linseed oil all
over it. This also brings a natural sheen to the statue.
Wood statues are lighter in weight and less expensive than metal
or stone pieces. Because wood is prone to fast decay by fungus and
algae, statues made out of this material are not preferred to be
kept outside. The rich tradition of wood carving in countries such
as Africa, Egypt, India, and Nepal has been followed for many
centuries. Indian craftsmen are specialized in this classic art
and continue to exhibit their extraordinary artistic skills.
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