Unlike Vishnu and Kali, the other divine dancers and 'Adigurus' of dance, who danced to a form and theme, Shiva danced, as here, beyond them. Vishnu danced to subdue Bali or serpent Kaliya, and Kali to destroy demons ? specific objectives accomplished by confining to specific forms. In his 'anandatandava', as also in 'lasya', Shiva danced for bliss and delight, and in the process effected dissolution and creation ? aiming neither of them. Creation is Shiva's ultimate bliss, and dissolution, the essential condition of creation, a festival, and he accomplishes both in dance. Thus, his dance to dissolve is the dance of absolute bliss ? the 'anandatandava'. This statue is a superb manifestation of the totality of his dance. In his 'anandatandava', he usually has four arms, and in 'lasya' mode, just two. Here his form has been conceived with six arms, four of the 'anandatandava' and two of the 'lasya'.
The figure of Apasmarapurusha ? enertness, as also forgetfulness, personified, under his feet, the upper right hand imparting 'abhaya' and the left gesturing dissolution ? release and liberation, are attributes of 'anandatandava'. The locks of his hair unfurl like flames of fire, though the actual flames required to emit from his head, symbolising ultimate energy and dynamism ? the other characteristic feature of 'anandatandava', are missing. His 'damaru' ? small drum, which he carried in one of his hands during 'anandatandava', is also absent. It is by the sound of his drum that the dissolution is announced, and it is by the flames of fire that the cosmic energy is recycled to create. Absence of snakes, decapitated human heads and over-all boisterousness, and contrarily, the beauty of form, gentle moves, eleganly wore apparel and sublimity on face, are elements of 'lasya'.
Different from 'anandatandava', where the Great Lord has, rising from two of his four hands, flames of fire, symbolising final conflagration, or different even from 'lasya', this form of Shiva upholds his bull Nandi as his standard, as also the deer ? erring one, arrested but not punished. He also carries his trident, the instrument to punish with, and the goad, to keep the erring ones to the right path. In this statue, Shiva is not in Ardhanarishvara form, but to better reveal his tenderer aspects, an essential thing for 'lasya', the artist has discovered his feminineness in his left 'karnaphoola' ? ear-ring, heavier left hip, broader left breast and thicker hair on left side. An emotionally charged face, with sharp nose, meditative eyes, small cute lips, and a forehead adorned with 'tripunda' mark, and a balanced anatomy define this excellent piece of art.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes
on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief
curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New
Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and
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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