Carving timeless delights on wood
Rajasthan is home to a fabulous range of handicrafts. If you happen to visit the splendid heritage structures of Jaisalmer, you will come across fascinating works of art on display, ranging from Thewa art to leather works and exquisite wood carvings that certainly occupy a pride of place in the world of Indian handicrafts.
The art of wood carving dates back to around 1500 BC when some of the basic instruments in use were carving knives, chisels, mallets, v or u-shaped tools and sand paper. Over the years, the art of wood carving evolved into a specialised profession as craftsmen began sculpting timeless works that immortalised their craft in history. It is the vibrancy of themes, together with the blend of fine wood work and paint, that attracts one and all. Once the carving is done, craftsmen coat the carved surface with linseed and walnut oils to offer protection to the pieces from dust and moisture.
The scope of wood carving largely depends upon the kind of wood used. Some of the common varieties of wood used for carving include chestnut, teak, mahogany and walnut. Although hard wood guarantees longer life and lustre, it is relatively easier to carve soft wood. The art of carving sandalwood is popular in the remote patches of Barmer, Jaisalmer and Jaipur.
It is the sutar (carpenter) community of Jaisalmer that is engaged in wood carving. The art saw its birth in the 14th century, during the Mughal era. In modern India, the Rajasthan Small Industries Corporation has made a sincere attempt to support this craft. At Jaisalmer, visitors are spoilt for choice, as the wonderful collection of wood work ranges from miniature desert caravans with tiny trains of camels, carved elephants and laughing Buddhas to intricate carvings of deities including Lord Krishna, Lord Hanuman, Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha, all in varied postures.
These wood carvings are available in a wide spectrum of prices, starting from Rs 100, and hence affordable to all. One can strike a good bargain at historic spots like Patwa Haveli or Golden Fort in Jaisalmer. Prices are dependent on the size of the item as well as the intricacy of work involved. Eye-catching key chains, paper cutters, ball pens and trinket boxes make perfect souvenir items.