When the deer wounded
by his arrow ran deep into the woods, Raja Dushyant followed his prey, only to
stumble upon the mistress of the deer, Shakuntala. Daughter of sage Vishwamitra and the beauteous Apsara (celestial nymph) Menaka, Shakuntala appeared to
Dushyant as the most exquisite maiden on earth, comparable only to Sri Lakshmi herself, in virtues and beauty. The character of Shakuntala, her birth, meeting
Dushyant, and the tender events that followed have been a favorite theme of
Indian art since their first descriptions in the great Hindu epic- Mahabharata.
Later, poet-dramatist Kalidasa penned his great composition-
“Abhigyanashakuntalam”, based on the moving saga of Shakuntala. This large
wooden Shakuntala playing with a deer recreates the scene that Dushyant’s eye’s
witnessed in the grooves of Kanva Rishi’s ashrama- Shakuntala surrounded by the
loveliness of nature, the epitome of femininity.
On a lotus pedestal stands Shakuntala with her legs
positioned in the Ardhaparanyakasana (right leg raised in the air), striking
the most enchanting posture. Flora and fauna halo her form- from the deer she
holds between her right leg, the bird sitting on her left hand, a parrot
perched on her upraised right hand to the floral vines reaching their fruition,
nature as Shakuntala’s ornamentation has been used in this large wooden statue.
Her hair is tied in a neat updo, she wears intricate ornaments and a diaphanous
green dhoti matching the greenery of her environs. The maker of this large wooden
Shakuntala has given her elongated eyes, arched eyebrows, fine nose, and
delicate lips whose slight smile took away the great king Dushyant’s breath.
Figures of females in the prime of their youth, surrounded
by vegetation and animals are a common motif in ancient Indian art tradition.
Youthful females bring auspiciousness, fecundity, and fortune into space. This
wooden Shakuntala statue draws from tradition brilliantly. The muted shades
used in the colors of the figure and the lacquered texture of her flawless body
bring a distinctive aesthetic touch to the composition. A bunch of flowers hangs from the top center
of the floral aureole of Shakuntala from which a parrot relaxedly drinks the sweet
nectar just as Dushyant relished in the essence of Shakuntala’s blossomed
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.
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