India is a hub of diverse variety of crafts. Each of them consist of certain distinctive attributes. Such characteristics mandate an exclusive discussion on each of them. The closer we get towards these crafts, the greater is our curiosity to develop a better understanding of the eccentric features of different crafts practiced across the nation. Such inquisitiveness led me towards a quite distinguished craft undertaken in Karnataka- sandalwood craft. Let’s explore about one of the most cherished craft- sandalwood craft from Karnataka.
The Native Land of Sandalwood Craft
Karnataka is also referred to as Gandhagudi or the abode of sandalwood. This is because of the presence of higher number of sandalwood trees in the state. Sandalwood carving is practiced by a specified group of skilled artisans called the Gudigars. The key areas of production in Karnataka- Bangalore, Mysore, Shimoga and Sorab. The warm and tropical climate of the region supports the production of sandalwood (Chandan) trees in this region.
There are primarily two types of Sandalwood- the Srigandha (White Wood) and Nagagandha (Red Wood). The White wood is used for the purpose of carving . It is quite helpful for the creation of beautiful craft products. The Red wood is utilised for extracting oil.
Behind the Scene
Since the nature of sandalwood craft is quite delicate, the most commendable fact about its creation is the sole involvement of some basic tools in the entire process. These tools consist of a saw, hammer, multiple types of etches and certain devices for the purpose of etching.
The soft nature of sandalwood enables the craftsmen to carve intricately over its external surface. Carving is done either manually or through the automated process by the hand drilling machine.
The types of sandalwood carving can be classified as-
Sandalwood has been regarded an esteemed status in Hinduism. Its immense importance can be gauged by the fact that it’s has been a prominent part of various religious rituals for more than two thousand years. Its usage is still prevalent within the religious ceremonies in the following ways-
1) Sandalwood paste is used for anointment of the idols of the deities residing in the premises of the temples.
2) The sandalwood paste is also applied by the priests on their forehead while they worship the lord due to its cooling and calming impact on the body.
3) The pleasant aroma of sandalwood led to its usage in the preparation of the incense sticks. The sacred nature of the fragrance emanating out of these sticks are quite helpful in meditation practices as per the popular belief system.
4) Sandalwood necklaces are an innate element of the religious rituals as it is utilised for undertaking chanting counts of 108 beads.
In the contemporary scenario, the multi – faceted possibilities present in sandalwood carving enables the artisans to create majestic figurines of the beloved God and Goddesses.
Process of Sandalwood Carving
The process involves the following the following steps-
1) Wooden blocks are cut into appropriate sizes.
2) After this, the craftsmen begins with the representation of the final design of the product on a white paper.
3) This motif is placed on the specific wooden block for reference purpose.
4) On the basis of sketch, the undesirable portions of the wood are removed and carving is done in a comparatively rough manner by considering the complete demarcation of the design.
5) Wooden mallet and chisel are used for undertaking major carving of the entire motif.
6) The sharp edged shaping tools are then employed for intricate elements of the whole design.
7) The external surface of the final undergoes the process of smoothening.
Sandalwood Craft in the Modern Era
Sandalwood craft has become a part and parcel of the contemporary society. It has become an integral part of our homes due it’s significance in interior decoration of our living places. Sandalwood pen stands, paper weights, lamp shades, jewel cases, handcrafted furnitures, key chains and photo frames are some of the key products resulting from this unique craft. Apart from this, a lot of decorative items in our respective households include beautifully curated sculptures of veena, tabla and the dancing postures of mythological lords majorly created from sandalwood.Sandalwood jewellery is another popular merchandise category in the market. It is preferred by the people who opt for casual wear and ethnic outfits.
All the above mentioned facts enhance the desirability of sandalwood craft amongst a lot of modern households across India . The affection towards this craft also extends beyond the national boundaries due to its charming feature and pleasing aroma. So, the products manufactured using this craft have to be in your shopping list when you visit Karnataka from next time. Till then, keep these characteristics of sandalwood craft afresh in your memories and never stop yourselves from admiring the beauty of sandalwood!!!