There is Magic in their Hands and discipline in their work. They have an unquestionable imagination for possibilities in their Craft. Meet the Wood carving Craftsman from Villages of Uttar Pradesh. The year started with a solo trip to this Unsung Craft in various locations. I have always been mesmerized by the richness of Art, culture and diversity across the Country. When I thought to explore the wood carving collection I could not resist to visit them, majorly to understand the process.
The Visit left me speechless, I have never seen wood and metal carving with such fineness. a few design that I saw were about 70-80 years old, and every one out of them is a gem and speaks volume. Earlier, carving was done on used furniture sheesham wood, which was considered to be stronger and gives a Rustic Vintage look to the pieces. Now, because of heavy demand they use fresh Wood Slices to do the Craft. They have an eye to every detail they put in any design, be it Contemporary, Traditional, Transitional, it seems that they have a story of the subject with them. Each piece was chosen, coated, Traced, carved and finalised with amazing fineness. Its a time- taking process and labour of love that tells you the story about the artistic legacy of this place.
Wood carving & Cut-work “The end product is a reflection of your skill and unless that is in places, the piece falls flat, it does not have the soul” One of the artisan mentioned. I could not agree more, they put so much time in making every single piece a masterpiece for your eclectic décor taste. Gunia, Tiipna, Rekh, Datta, Gad are few process names and each of them take immense patience and effort to come up in a soulful product. The Artisians majorly used to be inspired from Mughal carving that traces back to Persia and was aimed at royal palaces. These carving used to have grand floral and herb patterns. Now, they are happy to reinvent the craft and experiment with transitional designs like trees, regal animals like Elephant, vehicles etc. The artisans are highly skilled and block carving is considered a life skill that is taught to all young boys.
Unfortunately, The Market flourished only till the nineties and then saw a fast decline in the production of Blocks and wood handicrafts, reason being the machine made carved blocks that were cheap, with less effort and with an utmost symmetry that Customer demands. “The customers want us to justify a high price for the same wood blocks that they get in much lesser price for the machine made blocks.” He mentioned. The artisans are unhappy with the situation, and few of them are struggling for a good livelihood. Moreover, they are worried with the fact that the traditional art is dying, Young boys are more inclined to faster jobs like machine made articles to earn a better money in less time.
But there is a shine in their eyes and confidence in their skill. To carry the legacy further, a few of them have adopted the young boys and teaching them the skill and so they still take up their Chisel ⚒ every morning and an unfinished block …makes the first beating that is more like the music to every Carver’s ears. Without doubt, I was so connected to the art that I decided to introduce them in my collection. From a hundreds of designs, I picked up a few immediately and promised myself to get back here with more experimental designs. The fineness of work was impeccable and I got back with a treasure box.