Carving at the risk of life

Stall proprietor and marble sculpture Dorilal from Agra points out to an elephant carved from Jade marble and asks this correspondent to have a peek into the artistic holes carved throughout the solid marble elephant only to reveal another elephant carved inside it. Having a closer look, the correspondent discovers yet another elephant carved inside the second elephant making it a total of three elephants carved from one solid rock, one inside another.

“This work is called as undercut and we do it by chipping holes in jade marble in a certain angle, so that one hole is linked with another. Once we carve the entire solid elephant, then we start carving the second elephant inside it through the holes. After chipping holes in the second elephant, we start chipping the third elephant through these holes with much finer tools,” explains Dorilal to City Herald.

This confusing and yet astounding piece of art starts from Rs 175 and goes up to Rs 1,500 but the pain behind this work is known only to the artiste.

“One cannot work more than 10 years on this art as it strains the eyes and one loses sight. The dust that flies when one chips the marble will also damage the eye. More than 80 per cent of marble sculptors suffer from Tuberculosis and government does not do anything about it,” complains Dorilal and adds that the art is also close to extinction as the future generation is not interested in this art as it does not fetch a huge profit.

Marble costs more than Rs 650 a kg and the hard labour behind it does not fetch a huge price. “This art has the sweat and blood of an artiste,” he says.

Apart from intricate undercut masterpieces, the stall also has pretty jewellery marble boxes. These boxes are engraved with semi precious stones and the art work is called as ‘In layer’.

“The art work on the marble boxes is similar to the artwork in Taj Mahal. These boxes are first carved and precious stones like turquoise, opal, cornelian, malachite and others are fit inside the carvings. We can also fit in more precious stones like ruby, diamonds, emeralds but it depends on the customers demand,” he said. The boxes range from Rs 150 to Rs 2,500.

Explaining the In layer artwork, Dorilal says that the semi precious stones are shaped using a grinder. “Earlier, children were given this work as only they could hold such tiny stones against the grinder. I have done this work for my father as a child and have also have wounded my fingers. Now the government has banned child labour and it is extremely difficult for the adults to reproduce such work,” he reveals.

Dorilal also has glass art work and carvings from black Belgian marble, soft stone, Italian marble and Sangemarmar. A replica of Tajmahal in Sangemarmar marble costs Rs 12,500 in his stall. “One cannot replicate the original Taj Mahal built by Shah Jahan. Everyone should at least see this masterpiece once in a life time,” says this humble marble artiste.

Shilpakala art expo at Hotel Moti Mahal is open to the public till June 12 from 10 am to 8 pm.

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