Dravidian style Stone Sculptures
Pallava architecture and the Pallava Lion, inspired the architecture of the Hindu colonies of Indonesia and Cambodia and later the Singapore Merlion. The Pallava dynasty ruled from Kanchipuram and Mamallapuram and greatly influenced art and architecture of the time.
Sculptors – mainly around the shores of Mahabalipuram – come from a tradition and training of Dravidian style of sculpture, trained at the Shilpashastra based Sculpture and Art college. The sculptors have experience of having worked on temples around the world and on small and large complex installations and projects. They are well versed with the traditional and religious aspects of sculpture. They work with different techniques to cut, sculpt and finish hard granite to perfection. Work is done on sculpture pieces ranging from 6 inches to 20 mtrs in height.
Hard granite stone mined in the Swamimalai and Kanchipuram areas is brought in truckloads and then offloaded using robust material handling cranes. They are then hewn into the correct sizes for a particular sculpture. Rough cutting of the shape of the sculpture and a few marking strokes are done with a marker to start the process of detailed sculpting. A combination of grinding, sculpting and finishing then completes the sculpture after many hours of hard-work by master craftsmen.
The science and the art of sculpture is applied here to sculpt various religious icons – including Ganeshas, Shiva, Parvati, Durga, Laxmi, Sarawati, Murugan, etc. – all in the Dravidian style and iconography
The stone sculpture studios around Mahabalipuram are abuzz with activity – sculpting figures that will be shipped to various parts of the globe.
Stone Carvings of Odisha
Stone carving is a traditional of Orissa as is evident from the innumerable archeological monuments, rock-cut sculptures, caves, and temples built and have been practiced for centuries. The huge repertoire of stone carving is best revealed in the architecture and rock cut sculptures of Lingraja, Jagannath, Mukteshwara and other temples of Orissa. Other noteworthy monuments include the temple chariot of the Sun God at Konark, Stupas of Ratnagiri and Udaygiri. There are ‘Apsaras’, the heavenly beauties playing different musical instruments carved on the Konark Wheel.The magnificent temples of ‘Parsurameswar’, ‘Mukteshwar’, ‘Lingraja’, ‘Jagannath’ and ‘Konark’ is the progeny of the artisans who built these temples. Besides the beautiful Stupas and Monasteries of Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri have kept alive the traditions of their forefathers.
India has a vast resource of different types of stones and the artisans of Orissa are at complete ease while working with them. Tools such as hammers and chisels known as ‘Muna’, ‘Patili’, ‘Martual’ and ‘Nihana’ in local parlance are enough to carve the ultra soft soap stone or Khadipathara.
The process of stone carving involves careful selection of a stone without cracks. The artisan envisions a basic shape and uses a deep cutting machine to remove excess stone. Each idea is evaluated before carving begins. The artisan uses flat chisels to break the stone along straight lines, avoiding cracks as much as possible. Minor cracks are fixed with glue. Hand chiseling is used to shape the stone, while various tools create faces, angles, and intricate details. Small tools are employed for precise carving, and sharp knives are used to smooth rough areas. Laminating with wax helps protect the stone from damage.
Stone carving in Odisha produces a wide range of exquisite products, including intricately carved sculptures of gods and goddesses, ornate temple architecture, and decorative items like lamps and panels. The craftsmanship showcases the rich cultural heritage of the region and the skilled artistry of the stone carvers.