Though the Shiva’s son and a deity in Shaivite line, Ganesha is not
linked to dissolution – primary cosmic function of his father; he
rather renders the process of creation detriments free and helps
sustain it by his sheer benevolence and auspices without directly
operative against any, good or evil. Thus, Lord Ganesha is far more but
essentially the deity who sustains and protects by his mere presence.
Whatever the weapons in hands, four or any number of them, wisdom is
the main tool of Lord Ganesha by which he operates and which he infuses
into his devotees. Hence, it is not strange that both, Lakshmi : the
goddess representing sustenance, and Saraswati : the goddess of
wisdom, are alike associated with Parvati’s son, the valiant Ganesha.
In its simple portrayal the wood panel illustrates this essence of
Lord Ganesha. Of his abundant iconographic forms the carver has used
three, all four-armed, carrying alike in them goad, noose, broken tusk
and a piece of sweet, all, pot-belled, wearing identical crowns,
ornaments, belly-bands and antariyas except their colours, golden for
the central figure and green for those on sides, and the same gesture
of arms and an identical seating posture, but the dimensional breadth
of the representation is immense and as far goes its symbolism.
The presiding form of Lord Ganesha, one enshrining the axis of the
defined space, symbolic of the known cosmos, is lotus-seated Ganapati.
Lotus being the manifest form of Lakshmi, this form of Ganesha
represents his Lakshmi-Ganapati manifestation. Ganesha representing
benevolence, auspiciousness and freedom from detriments and
inauspicious, and Lakshmi, prosperity, abundance, fertility and
beauteous, Lakshmi-Ganesha is thus the most potent instrument of
sustenance. Flanking the central deity on the left is the lion-riding
form of Ganesha. The mount of Durga, in her all manifestations, Parvati
and others, lion represents the avenging goddess and the nurturing
mother Durga. This form of Ganesha represents him as the valiant
protector and destroyer of the wicked, another aspect of sustaining
the creation and maintaining cosmic balance. The form on the right of
the centre is the Ganapati’s own mouse-riding form. As the mouse
pierces all material layers in between and reaches its target, wisdom,
with its deep penetrating insight resolves the mysteries facing it. As
Saraswati is the wisdom’s presiding goddess, this form of Ganesha is
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain
specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of
numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the
curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New
Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of
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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