The decoration of wood by carving and sculpting is perhaps the oldest known forms of art since the existence of mankind. Till date, people have a fetish for all things wooden and antique. Whether you are looking for a suitable piece of decoration for a wall or corner in your home or workspace, choosing an artistic classic wooden sculpture is a great idea. In India, especially, you can find a host of different designs with each region specializing in a unique style. Each of it is influenced by the local tradition and the cultural impact that various events in history have had on the artists and the people alike.
The fact that Indians have indulging in this magnificent art is proved by masterpieces like the stupas in Bharhut and idol in the Jagganatha temple. Wooden sculptures in India have a remarkable history and are known for its unique design and pattern. Craftsmen of India have created some amazing masterpieces with wood throughout history. In both northern and Southern regions sculptures and carvings adorn the doors, ceilings, pillars and columns in ancient monuments. The style varies with different region but the elegance and the durability is one thing that is common. Also, thanks to the varied weather conditions across the sub continent, one can also witness a variety of woods being used for the sculptures. The most popular varieties of wood used are perhaps sandalwood, sheesham, teak, ebony and rosewood.
Naturally, there are many options of wooden sculptures available to those who are looking at investing in one. The widest distinction that can be made is perhaps that of a religious and a non religious design. In the former you will find sculptures of deities, Gods and Goddesses and the in the latter you can find toys and of course, modern pieces. You can find a good variety of both in any region that you travel to.
India is famous for its distinct style of wood sculptures and carving that were partly influenced by foreign tradition and mostly by local traditions. In the southern part of the country, architecture is expressed in the form of rathas which are miniature temples on wheels and depict gods and goddesses, mythological narratives that are carved on the side panels of these rathas. In Karnataka, one can look for Bhuta figure carvings that are made from single wood pieces and are very primitive artifacts today. In Andhra Pradesh, there is tradition of wood carving manufacture that are for religious centers and Tirupathi dolls made from redwood were on sale for pilgrims.
In southern parts of India, particularly Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, you will find sculptures of beautiful rathas or chariots. Also, you can find beautiful temple sculptures that have been influences by the era of the Pandyas of Madurai and the Cholas of Tanjore. You can even find beautifully sculpted pieces of furniture made form ebony in these regions. Toys made of wood are very popular in Karnataka, Chennapatna especially.
Houses here have a family temple with wooden sculptures and intricate patterns and designs on the ceilings, pillars or brackets. Apart from this, Northern India also has a distinct style of wooden sculpting that is reflected in the furniture. The namghars or places of worship in Assam are also very well-known for their meticulously done wood carvings and sculptures of hanuman and various animal figures. Gujarat is also famous for the wooden sculptures on the doors and ceilings of the Somnath temple.
Coming to the central region of the country, that is Madhya Pradesh, one can find exquisite work on a variety of woods like teak, kikar and sal. Lacquered toys are very popular in these regions. You can also find beautifully crafted vases, bedposts and boxes here. The main centers of woodcraft in Madhya Pradesh are Gwalior, Rewa and Budhni.
The states in Northern India offer the best range of designs and options. In Uttar Pradesh, for instance, you can find artists who specialize in Mughal techniques like Anguri and Jali. Beautiful lamps, boxes, trays and other household items are available in these regions. In Punjab, wooden sculptures inlaid with ivory are extremely popular. Kashmiri wood work involves using specially treated wood that is resistant to water and harsh weather conditions. So, they are perfect for outdoor furniture to adorn the lawn or the driveway. Gujarat makes a range of wooden swings from rustic, unvarnished ones to colorfully lacquered ones and has popularized it across the world.
Traditional Indian wood sculptures are easily available in government handicraft emporiums in each state and city. There are also privately owned stores where you can find whatever you are looking for. The price range depends on the type of wood, the style of wood sculpting and the era that it belongs to. You can get artifacts starting from a few hundreds, going all the way up to lakhs of rupees. However, considering the elegance that these works of art add to any space, they are definitely worth the investment.
Today, most of the wooden sculptures have innovative patterns and figurines and is not just restricted to deities and mythology. Even abstract carvings or theme-based wooden sculptures are the trends in contemporary art of wood sculptures. For art lovers who are interested in purchasing priceless wooden sculptures, an antique store is the right place to be in. Apart from these, handicrafts exhibitions, ethnic stores, etc sell wooden sculptures.
Wooden sculptures are very popular and have a flourishing industry in India. Some of the states in India that are world famous for the wood carvings are Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The carved sculptures of gods and goddesses, animals, figurines, etc are the most popular.