The Bangalore series- Stone sculptures


You have already seen the beautiful stone sculpture in my balcony garden. Here is the post on where I found it.

When we finally managed to drive out of Bangalore (which seemed almost endless) and left behind the huge building complexes, my friend Mandy and I were glad to take in some fresh country air. The highway was a pleasure to drive on, with picturesque and almost uninhabited surroundings for our eyes to feast on. Some really good 90’s music (loads of nostalgic thoughts in the process) and we were well on our way to Shivarapatna. All that we knew about the place was that it was in Kolar district!

We reached Kolar and figured that we had crossed the village atleast an hour earlier and had to head back the same way. So we took a detour (again a vague direction following instructions given by the village folk, who measured distance by the time it took them the last time they visited that place!) and we trying Nokia maps to figure out the direction. Thats when we realized that as far as the maps were concerned, we were non-existent!

Shivarapatna was hardly made up of a couple of rows of houses, all of which were busy with activity. Statues were strewn around in all stages of work. The workshops (like the one shown above) were full of statues ready to be shipped to the US.

The craftsmen were all immersed in their work using simple tools, sometimes even oblivious of our presence.

Some of them were working under the shade of a bamboo structure, an interestingly ‘green’ feature.

My friend helped me with Kannada translations and we slowly started getting an idea of the work. This craft has been practiced for generations, the raw material (stone) coming from nearby areas of HD Kote and Mysore. Granite and soapstone are the two common stones used for sculptures.

Navagrahas, the nine planetary gods in Hindu religion are made here. These sculptures are used in temples across South India.

Few interesting designs.

Nandi, Lord Shiva’s bull, a representation of Dharma.

The tallest structure that we saw in the village.

Goddess Lakshmi, a symbol of wealth.

Hanuman, a devotee of Lord Rama.

Goddess Durga.

If you are planning to drive there this weekend, you can contact me for directions!

Please click here for more pictures.

Spirits and Demons

I’ve lived in Bangalore for a year. Yet I’ve never come across this place called ‘Oklipura’. Usually crafts are made in villages and I had no clue how to find them. I just knew they were in Oklipura (purely based on some reference in a book), but the address was not known.

So I walked around the neighborhood for about an hour and finally was directed to the right place by the local dhobi (launderer). There I met a very enterprising lady, the daughter of the master craftsman who explained the details. For generations they have been catering to their clients in South Karnataka.

Dakshin Kannada district is known for its unique culture. Bhuta Kola or Holy Spirit worship is a stylised form of ritual dance of the spirit impersonator. It is quite similar to ‘Theyyam’, an art form from the Malabar region of Kerala.

An interesting form of dance-ritual called ‘Yakshagana’ a dance-drama creating the world of divine and super human beings with all the paraphernalia of costumes, make ups, music, dance and dialogue is practised. A mask of the demon God is worn during this ritual.

The sculptures are made in various sizes for different purposes. For sake of puja at home, sizes smaller than a palm size are only used. Any size bigger than a size of a palm are either worshipped in temples or used as decorative pieces at home. Panch Dhatu, an alloy of five metals or Brass is used to make these figures.

Spirits are classified as animisitic or they represent Puranic Gods, Cultural heroes or local characters. Mahishasura, the bull demon is worshipped.

Varaha, an avatar of Vishnu where he was a boar is also worshipped.

Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped in a different form here. The picture shows the top part of the body of Goddess Lakshmi.

I left the workshop with a fascinating fact told by the lady. She said that the none of these Gods are worshipped by people who make them. And its been that way for generations.

Crafted in stone..

My first day in Bhubaneswar happened to be very rainy indeed. Such a dampener when you have so much to do in such little time. Thanks to Dr.Gadanayak’s(Director, school of sculpture) advice, I had a fairly reasonable list of locations for the crafts I wanted to visit. The closest craft was stone carving, so Girish (my friend) and I were off to explore it in the maddening rain!

The initial experience was mind-blowing and this was even before I had visited the Konark temple.  Orissa’s temples are monuments of beauty, every bit of it sculpted by the ancestors of these gifted men, the worshippers of Vishwakarma, the divine architect of the world. The temples are made of sandstone (sanapattar, as it is locally called) and have a reddish-pink sheen.

The first stop was a well established set up owned and run by a master sculptor Dr. Sudarshan Sahu. Though we didn’t get to meet him, we were generously allowed a tour of his premises.

The craftsmen working under him were patiently creating the works of art. One of them, Murlidar explained that Orissa is rich in various indigenous varieties of stone. Anything from the super soft soapstone to the hard granite is available here.

Very simple tools like chisels and hammers are used to sculpt these beauties.

The detailing achieved using these simple tools..

Our next stop was a small workshop on the way to Pipli. The entire Bhubaneswar-Pipli road is dotted with such small workshops. We decided to take a random stop at one of them and we were not disappointed.

I met Rasamani Maharana, a master craftsman who runs a training school there. The rain soaked sculptures in contrast to the lush green of the surroundings was the first thing that hit me here.

During my discussion with him, I told him that I love these sculptures. However my tiny apartment cannot fit these in and so decided to try out something small for the city dweller! I am restlessly awaiting their arrival. 🙂

Here are a few designs..

Signature sculpture from Orissa. A lion sculpture guards the gate in every temple. It is a symbol of triumph and victory. Note the detailing on the waist band.

I would have loved to stay back to hear the constant chiseling, taking in the lush surroundings and admiring the sculptures. Another burst of rain and I had to leave.

End of day one..

Please click here for more photos of my Orissa trip.