Indian Wood Artists

There is a small village in Tamil Nadu that is the epicenter for Hindu wood sculpture in South India. I love spending the day walking around the village peaking into homes full of saw dust and half finished Gods and hearing the constant sound of a chisel being driven into wood. It is great to see the Hindu Gods come alive in front of your eyes.

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It is hard to imagine that each wood statue started as a raw block of wood. Here, the artist draws the initial design on the outside of the wood. Then he spends the next days/weeks coaxing the god out of the wood.
Carving the details on a 36 inch dancing Ganesha with 6 arms.
An artist individually hand paints all the details on our colored wooden sculptures. Hand carved and hand painted!
Here are the various stages of painting a wood statue. First they apply a white coat of paint. Then they do background coloring. Then they do the details. Lastly they give the sculpture shading which dulls the bright coloring giving it a rustic feel.
Everything is more difficult than I imagined; the wood is difficult to chisel, you have to gauge how deep of a cut you want by the force of your swing. Made me realize how much work goes into each statue.
Here I am alongside two of the best wood artists who I purchase the majority of my wood statues from, Natarajan and his brother, Vel.
Our wood statuary is the only setting where you find women working along with men in the production of statues. In India, and mostly anywhere in Asia, statue making is typically dominated by men. Here women sand and paint wood statues.
Video of the entire process of wood carving for our wooden statues.
Video of the fine details of Saraswati are carved in the final stages of the carving process.
Video of wood artists carving statues.
Me with some of the artists.
The rough cut statue of Ganesha.
Carving the details of Saraswati!
The carvers use a wood block as a hammer into the chisels to cut into the wood.
Carving a Hoysala style Lakshmi.
The women are usually in charge of the sanding and polishing of the wood statues. Affirmative action has not quite made it to the Indian country side. She was all smiles!
I love the rythmic pounding of the chisels into the wood.
A well deserved tea break! Afternoons can be so hot and there is nothing like a hot chai to....???? Well, its delicious!