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Amidst the Dying Art of Wood Carving, Meet the Wood Carver who keeps it alive in India

P. Sengottuvel owns a degree in chemistry but is still practicing this art because he doesn’t want to see this art dying

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Wooden carvings. Image source: www.iisd.ca
  • Woodcarving is influenced by a number of local Indian religions 
  • Woodcarvings are usually found in a few homes in Kerala and temples 
  • P. Sengottuvel from Tamil Nadu has been practicing woodcarving since 30 years 

A lost art

India is a land of diverse culture and traditions. It is known for its rich heritage which comprises of art, literature, scriptures, sculptures and monuments. Woodcarving is one such art is being practiced since years.  Woodcarving is influenced by a number of local Indian religions. It is surprising that every religion of India has its own style of wood art! The wood from available trees is used as raw material to design wood carved sculptures, furniture and statues.

Woodcarving is practiced in India since time immemorial. Many wood carved temples still exist in India. Some of these temples are located in Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. The art is reviving with the sandalwood art of Karnataka and teak wood in Kerala. However, this art is dying in modern India. Modern furniture is made from different materials which hardly leave any scope for Indian artisans involved in woodcarving to continue their work.

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The Revival 

But there is one such artisan who has still kept his art alive. P. Sengottuvel has inherited this art from his forefathers. Though he owns a degree in chemistry, he is still practicing this art because he doesn’t want to see this art dying. He lives in a village called Thammampatti, 60km from the city of Salem, Tamil Nadu, said the star2.com report.

P. Sengottuvel has been carving wood since 30 years Image: www.star2.com
P. Sengottuvel has been carving wood since 30 years
Image: www.star2.com

According to Star2.com, initially, he learnt to make wooden jewelry and then moved on to bigger things. His grandfather also makes chariots for temples and was awarded the Living Treasure Award by the government of Tamil Nadu. He also exhibited his work at the Artistic Treasures Exhibition at the Temple of Fine Arts in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore. Most of his carvings comprise of Lord Ganesha. His works are very detailed which takes a lot of hard work.

He also takes up orders and the stock is easily sold. He works full day only taking breaks for meals. He wishes his children to follow his legacy just as his father taught him this art when he was a little boy.

Tracings of the Art

The Hidimba Devi Temple also known as the Hadimba Temple in Manali, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh Image: Wikimedia Commons
The Hidimba Devi Temple also known as the Hadimba Temple in Manali, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
Image: Wikimedia Commons

The traces of ancient wooden carvings are found in temples of Himachal Pradesh. One such temple is Sankat Mochan Temple in Shimla. This wooden temple also has an Ayurvedic clinic. The Hidimba Devi Temple in Manali is popular for its 24m tall wooden tower and is built around a cave in a thick forest.

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Mathi Temple at Chitkul, India Image: www.tourmyindia.com
Mathi Temple at Chitkul, India
Image: www.tourmyindia.com

The Mathi Temple in Chitkul is 500 years old and is made of wood. Maa Shavari Temple is a prominent temple in Manali. Maa Shavari is known to be a manifestation of Goddess Durga.

Traditional Kerala House! Kerala, South India. Image: Pinterest
Traditional Kerala House, Kerala in South India. Image source: Pinterest

Woodcarvings in homes can also be found in some homes in Kerala. In Uttar Pradesh, most of the wood carvings are influenced from the Mughals. Kerala and Karnataka also posses many beautiful wooden deities.

 

-prepared by Shubhi Mangla, an intern at Newsgram. Twitter @shubhi_mangla

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Good to know that people are taking steps to conserve the art forms which are slowly dying

  • Aparna Gupta

    Wood carving is special to India. This practice is a part of our culture and hence everyone should promote it.

  • devika todi

    wood carving is a part of our culture and i hope it will once again flourish, like it did in old times. it is a special art form and deserves appreciation and recognition.

SHARE
  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Good to know that people are taking steps to conserve the art forms which are slowly dying

  • Aparna Gupta

    Wood carving is special to India. This practice is a part of our culture and hence everyone should promote it.

  • devika todi

    wood carving is a part of our culture and i hope it will once again flourish, like it did in old times. it is a special art form and deserves appreciation and recognition.

Next Story

Monitoring Method May Help To Conserve Lions in India

In the new study, Keshab Gogoi and his colleagues have demonstrated an alternative method for monitoring Asiatic lions

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Lions
Conserving this sub-specie of lions with the use of best scientific methods is a global priority and responsibility, according to authors of the study from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). Pixabay

An alternative method of monitoring endangered lions in India can help improve estimates of their numbers and also in making informed conservation policy and management decisions.

New conservation practices have helped increase the number of Asiatic lions from 50 to 500 in the Gir Forests of Gujarat.

Accurate estimates are needed for better conservation efforts, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The existing methods, particularly a technique known as total counts, can miss some and double-count others. Also, they provide limited information on the spatial density.

Conserving this sub-specie of lions with the use of best scientific methods is a global priority and responsibility, according to authors of the study from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

In the new study, Keshab Gogoi and his colleagues have demonstrated an alternative method for monitoring Asiatic lions.

“Our research addresses this priority by developing a robust approach to their population assessment and monitoring, which can be used for all lion populations across the world,” said an author.

Gogoi and colleagues used whisker patterns and permanent body marks to identify lions using a computer programme, and analysed the data with a mathematical modelling method known as ‘spatially explicit capture recapture’ to estimate the lion density.

They also assessed the prey density and other factors that could influence the lion density.

Lion, Predator, Dangerous, Mane, Big Cat, Male, Zoo
An alternative method of monitoring endangered lions in India can help improve estimates of their numbers and also in making informed conservation policy and management decisions. Pixabay

The researchers identified 67 lions of the 368 sightings within the 725 sq km study area in the Gir Forests, estimating an overall density of 8.53 lions per 100 sq km. They found the prey density didn’t appear to influence the lion density variations in the study area.

The lion density was higher in the flat valley habitats (as opposed to rugged or elevated areas) and near sites where food had been placed to attract lions for tourists to see them.

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The study suggests that baiting lions for tourism affects their natural density patterns, in line with other researches that baiting disrupts lion behaviour and social dynamics.

The authors said the alternative monitoring method could be used to assess lions across their range (in India and Africa) and better conservation efforts. (IANS)