This perception of the 'female' in India's sculptural art almost idealised the portrayal of female form her iconography and anatomy; and hence, whatever the context or medium, wherever an Indian sculptor carved the figure of a woman on a temple wall, door-jamb, or in a pleasure-garden of a prince, he conceived her as brimming with youth, beauty and life-vigour. It is not hence strange that sculptors, or even painters of Ajanta and Ajanta-type murals, portrayed thousands of female figures in ancient as well as medieval India, but in them there are hardly a few that reveal age and wrinkles. Thus, instead of creating an individual, Indian sculptor and painter created a model a model of paramount beauty. This feminine world of Indian art so occupied its artist through ages that he perceived in her form only beauty intrinsic or external, and warmth of youth and emotions.
This ages long aesthetic perception of Indian art seems to have occupied the mind of the artist when he was working on this piece. Hence, whatever its date, the statue belongs to and represents the classical tradition of India's art. Had it been in stone and without such embellishment as could be carved only in wood-like less hard medium, this statue could well be mistaken as one from Khajuraho. It has same modelling quality, plasticity, beauty of form, iconographic and anatomical precision, emotional bearing and sensuousness, and adherence to classical norms, as have Khajuraho sculptures. Khajuraho has its counterpart a similar damsel looking into a mirror, but in this statue, wood has allowed the artist to carve around the figure a rich beautiful 'prabhavali' consisting of conventionalised banana creeper with birds perching on it, and fine details of anatomy and ornaments, which stone would have hardly allow to be carved on it. Two tiny figures of female attendants on the foot of the 'prabhavali' on both sides is perhaps the most interesting element added to the theme. One of them, on the left, has a monkey clinging to her with one of its hands holding her left breast. Monkey is considered as the most sexy creature. Hence, monkey's presence adds further thrust to the sensuous aspect of the theme.
The figure of the 'apsara' has been installed on a 'pitha' comprising two slabs of conventionalised designs. She is in a three-curved posture, which beautifully protrudes her left hip. The posture as beautifully twists her belly and projects her breasts. She inclines a little towards left for looking into the mirror but in the process her face turns into semi-profile, which better reveals the sharpness of her features and over-all beauty of face. The elaborately bejewelled damsel is almost nude except loins covered by a frilled ornament or cloth designed with frills and beads. Her well-dressed hair have been adorned with a beautiful head-ornament.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes
on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief
curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New
Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and
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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