Residing in all parts of the nation, wood carving is a craft which is like a plant with flowers of various kinds. Each state has its own version of it and yet maintains its individual identity. This intricate art is acquired in the skills of people practising it with one common aspect which is determination and hard work.
The art of making patterns and motifs is since the Mughal period. Intricate chests and furniture wooden pieces were made for the royals. Since then, it serves luxury both in India and overseas. This renowned technique has made its own niche in the industry and is conclusive of major part of the furniture industry. While sheesham is the most widely used type of wood, mango, teak, rosewood, ebony, sandalwood, walnut and deodar are also used. Intricately carved wooden pillars and doorways can be found in temples and palaces across the country. With royal patronage being replaced by market dynamics, wood carving is now mostly found in functional articles like furniture, bowls, boxes, lamp stands, etc.
Completely hand done, this technique requires a lot of patience to chisel out the motif from the wooden block and make the aesthetics coincide with luxury. Designs are first made on paper, and transferred onto the wood using ink. These are then carved using a variety of chisels. The article is finished by buffing in order to bring out the shine of the wood. This is usually done with the help of a lathe mechanism.
Its roots reaching out to various parts of the country which include:
Rajasthan: Bassi – carved figures, wooden shrines; Pipar, Bhari Sajanpur – bowls
Jammu & Kashmir: carved walnut wood utility and decorative items – bowls, trays, jewellery boxes, screens, tables, cupboards
Uttar Pradesh: Sahranpur – screens, folding tables, trays, bowls, boxes; Pilkhuwa, Farukkabad – printing blocks
Intricate jaalis and motifs, derived from the influences of the ancient architecture, is one major context of export from the country. Many international brands have their wood carving units in India. It is one craft which is contributing to the Indian economy and creating an impact.
Peeli Dori attempts to give this flourishing craft a contemporary face to get it in tune with today’s lifestyle.
Credits: Niharika Choudhary