"Darpana" Large Wooden Lady with Mirror

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 The first Prakasha or section of the Indian text Shilpaprakasha, a treatise on architecture and sculpting talks about a popular element in Indian temple art- beauteous young women, in different postures and forms adorning the walls and other parts of the sanctum with their grace. These enchanting maidens are called “Alasya Kanya” or idle women, a name derived from their laid-back attitude and bodily posture in which their allure is best displayed by the sculptor. According to the Shilpaprakasha- “As a Vaasa (home) and Kreeda (playfulness) are incomplete without the presence of a young woman, so is art without the imagery of the feminine, fruitless and devoid of pleasure.” The numbers of Alasya Kanya are 16 or 32 or even more, but the essence of these stunning female icons is one- the artistic exaltation of fertility and auspiciousness possessed by women. 

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Item Code: ZER159
Height: 35 inch
Width: 15 inch
Depth: 7 inch
Weight: 10.20 kg
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One of the most recurring motifs from the Alasya Kanya retinue is the lady with a mirror, also known as Darpana, who holds a darpana or mirror. This large wooden statue of depicts a young maiden engrossed in gazing at her beauty, which can mesmerize humans, gods, Yakshas, and Gandharvas (celestial beings).  This particular Darpana Sundari (beauty with mirror) is inspired by the rich sculptures of Madanikas (celestial maidens) carved in the Channakeshava Temple, at Belur- the home of Hoysala art and architectural marvels.

The detailed ornamentation, bodily proportions, and features relate this wooden Darpana with her sisters in the courtyard of the Hoysala temple, who are some of the best-preserved examples of the delineation of feminine beauty in India. The lady with the mirror or the mirror lady we see here is standing leisurely atop a platform decorated with lotus petal marks and a floral crest in the middle. She has a moon-white skin tone with hints of red henna and forehead marks and is carved in a rounded manner that captures her allures to the fullest. Her curled hair is in a bun which is secured at the back with a floral Shirachakra and earrings, necklace, and other ornate ornaments cling to her swinging form. The Mekhala or bejeweled girdle of this wooden lady with mirror has multiple gemmed strings, creating a luxurious skirt for the heavenly maiden.

The colorful woodwork has been carved with attentive details to trace an animated Darpana with finishing that infuses her with an antiquated quality. Her face appeals to the gaze with two large almond eyes, a sharp nose, and lips that are about to break into a smile. She elegantly holds a mirror in her hand while playfully touching an extension of her ornament.

Sculpting Serenity: Unveiling the Art of Crafting Wood Statues

Wood has been a preferred material for sculptures and statues since ancient times. It is easy to work with than most metals and stones and therefore requires less effort to shape it into any desired shape or form. The texture of the wood gives an element of realism to the sculpture. The selection of an appropriate wood type is necessary for carving. Woods that are too resinous or coniferous are not considered good for carving as their fiber is very soft and thus lacks strength. On the other hand, wood such as Mahogany, Oakwood, Walnut wood, Weet cherry wood, etc., are preferred by sculptors because their fiber is harder. A wood sculptor uses various tools such as a pointed chisel in one hand and a mallet in another to bring the wood to the desired measurement and to make intricate details on it. A carving knife is used to cut and smooth the wood. Other tools such as the gouge, V-tool, and coping saw also serve as important tools in wood carving. Although the wood carving technique is not as complex and tough as stone carving or metal sculpting, nonetheless, a wood carver requires a high level of skills and expertise to create a stunning sculpture.

1. Selecting the right wood

The process of wood carving begins with selecting a chunk of wood that is required according to the type and shape of the statue to be created by the sculptor. Both hardwoods and softwoods are used for making artistic pieces, however, hardwoods are preferred more than softer woods because of their durability and longevity. But if heavy detailing is to be done on the statue, wood with fine grain would be needed as it would be difficult to work with hardwood.

2. Shaping the wood

Once the wood type is selected, the wood carver begins the general shaping process using gouges of various sizes. A gouge is a tool having a curved cutting edge which is useful in removing large unwanted portions of wood easily without splitting the wood. The sculptor always carves the wood across the grain of the wood and not against it.

3. Adding detailing

When a refined shape of the statue is obtained, it is time for making details on the statue using different tools. This is achieved by using tools such as a veiner to make and a V-tool to create decorative and sharp cuts.

4. Surface finishing

Once finer details have been added, the sculptor is ready to smoothen the surface and give it a perfect finish. Tools such as rasps and rifflers are used to get a smooth surface. The finer polishing is obtained by rubbing the surface with sandpaper. If a textured surface is required, this step is skipped. Finally, to protect the statue from excessive dirt accumulation, the sculptor applies natural oils such as walnut or linseed oil all over it. This also brings a natural sheen to the statue.

How to care for Wood Statues?

Wood is extensively used in sculpting especially in countries like China, Germany, and Japan. One feature that makes the wood extremely suitable for making statues and sculptures is that it is light and can take very fine detail. It is easier for artists to work with wood than with other materials such as metal or stone. Both hardwoods, as well as softwood, are used for making sculptures. Wood is mainly used for indoor sculptures because it is not as durable as stone. Changes in weather cause wooden sculptures to split or be attacked by insects or fungus. The principal woods for making sculptures and statues are cedar, pine, walnut, oak, and mahogany. The most common technique that sculptors use to make sculptures out of wood is carving with a chisel and a mallet. Since wooden statues are prone to damage, fire, and rot, they require proper care and maintenance.


  • Wood tends to expand and contract even after it has been processed, thus it is always recommended to keep the wooden sculptures in rooms with little humidity. Excess moisture can harm your masterpiece.


  • Periodical dusting of the finished piece is necessary to maintain its beauty as dust accumulation on the surface takes away the shine of the sculpture. You can use a clean and soft cloth or a hairbrush for this purpose.


  • You must avoid applying any chemical-based solutions that may damage the wood from the inside. Instead, you can apply lemon oil or coconut oil using a cotton rag to the sculpture to bring out its natural shine. Lemon oil also helps to clean any stains on the sculpture.


  • Applying a layer of beeswax protects the wood from sun damage and hides even the smallest imperfections on the wood.


It is extremely important to preserve and protect wooden sculptures with proper care. A little carelessness and negligence can lead to their decay, resulting in losing all their beauty and strength. Therefore, a regular clean-up of the sculptures is a must to prolong their age and to maintain their shine and luster. 

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