The Hindu god of war, Kumara or Karttikeya has numerous other names, each of which delineates a particular characteristic:
1). Skanda - As he is born of the dissipated semen of Shiva he is called Skanda, which means discharged.
2). Shikhandaka - His head is adorned with tufts of hair (shikha).
3). Karttikeya - For having been nursed by six Krittikas (Pleiades).
4). Shanmatura - For possessing six mothers.
5). Shanmukha or one with six faces, so that he could suckle all his mothers simultaneously.
6). Kumara - He commandeered the army of the gods and killed the demon Taraka. Ku means evil and mara means to kill. He is also called so because he is a brahmchari and therefore a virgin (kumara).
7). Tarakari - For killing Taraka.
8). Shashthipriya - One who is fond of the 'sixth day' ; since he killed the above demon on the sixth day of the bright half of the lunar month of Mrigashiras, which according to the scriptures is the best of months.
Justifying his epithet Kumara, he is sculpted here as a handsome youth, bright like the morning sun. The lance (Vel) his holds in his left hand is said to have been a gift from his mother Parvati. The right arm is raised in the abhaya mudra, or the gesture of fearlessness. He wears a karandamukuta - the high crown which signifies a deity's exalted status - and which here eminently suits the youth who was destined to be the commander of gods. Bejewelled sumptuously, he has a well proportioned and sturdy body which stands erect on the high lotus pedestal. The upper anatomy is adorned only with ornaments and is totally bereft of any garment. A rich red dhoti clings to his lower limbs and is held at the waist by numerous decorated girdles. The peacock, Kumara's vehicle, stands behind him, trampling upon a snake with which the bird has an eternal, adversarial relationship.
This sculpture was created in Salem (Tamil Nadu), using Vengai wood.
Of Related Interest:
Karttikeya in Brass
Karttikeya, Son of Shiva
Skanda / Karttikeya
The Lord Of War Rides the Annihilator of Time
An Exhaustive Collection of Books on Karttikeya
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Wood statues are lighter in weight and less expensive than metal
or stone pieces. Because wood is prone to fast decay by fungus and
algae, statues made out of this material are not preferred to be
kept outside. The rich tradition of wood carving in countries such
as Africa, Egypt, India, and Nepal has been followed for many
centuries. Indian craftsmen are specialized in this classic art
and continue to exhibit their extraordinary artistic skills.
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