History of
Indian Crafts
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Indian Crafts >> Stone Craft
Stone Craft
Indian Crafts - Stone Craft
History of Stone Craft

It is historic to shape and polish the stones for the ornamental purposes.In ancient times, stone carving was used for making small weapons like arrowheads, javelin points, hammer etc. The great King Ashoka introduced stone architecture in India. Before 3rd century B.C during the Mughal reign this art flourished and declined with their downfall.Banda has this stone craft industry due to availability of the raw materials in the surrounding quarries.

Rajasthan may be called the land of marble. The comparative scarcity of wood and the easy abundance of stone have led to concentration on the latter. Here, the silvats are stone - cutters who are especially engaged in making grinding stone. The silvats are also called sutradhars. Makrana in Nagaur district is the major source of its marble. Jaisalmer city is a dream in stone, rising out of a desert and Jaipur holds the pride of place for availability of marble articles.Known for marble idols in many temples in North-India, Khazane-walon-ka-rasta in Jaipur is the center for this flourishing craft.

The stone comes next to the wood. The period is dated as man entry into a definite age of achievement, historically named after the stone as the Stone Age. Thus man manipulation with stone is more than an accidental discovery of a new medium.

Stone carving is a major handicraft of Orissa. As is evident from the innumerable archaeological monuments, rock-cut sculptures, carves and temples built for centuries and embellished with most beautiful and intricately carved stature and other adornments. The art of carving in stone had reached in Orissa dizzy heights of excellence perfected through centuries of disciplined efforts of generations of artisans. The progeny of these artisans who built the magnificent temples of Parsurameswar, Mukteswar, Lingaraj, Puri and that wonder in stone, the Sun God at Konark, besides the beautiful stupas and monasteries of Lalitgiri Ratnagiri and Udayagiri have kept alive the sculptural traditions of their forefatheres and their skilled hands can and do chisel and carve exact replicas of the original temple sculptures besides producing a variety of other items.

Bihar very ancient tradition in stone carving is proved by the magnificent sculpture of the mauryan period. They had a technique of high polish which can still be seen in the Ashoka pillar at Sarnath, the beautiful black with a touch of green in it, that surprises one with its lusture.

Excavation reveal carving of stone figures 3000 year old. Granite, the granular rock seems to have been the earliest in stone to be useful to man. The most descriptive robe of stone human story can be seen in the excavated objects. Of interest are the different weights cut out of stone by early man.

The temples at Belur and Halebid are the more exquisite specimens of Hoyasala architecture and are unrivalled for their beauty. The 57 ft. Jain statue of Gomatesvara at Sravanabelgola, standing on the summit of a rocky hill which rises to 400 feet, is a remarkable example of Indian sculpture. The famous ruins of Hampi in Bellary also deserve special mention for their lavish and exquisite workmanship and design, dating back to the time of the Vijayanagar dynasty. An abundance of richly carved friezes, adorned with intricately worked figures, adorned with intricately worked figures bear testimony to the temple extravaganza of old times.
Fine Art
The quarries around Banda have mass agate, locally called sajjar pathar so named for the branching pattern of the pyralusite inclusions and oxides agate with the rich colouring and the destructive complete patterns on the stone to make its natural ornamentation useful for decoration. This craft of lapidary, which involves fashioning of rounded surfaces on common quartz and agate, has been practiced by few select craft persons of the Jadia community of Banda. Traditionally engaged in the profession of setting up the recious/semi-precious stones in the gold/silver jewellery, they are effectively using the natural branching patterns for the various jewellery and decorative pieces.

The fine stone carving especially the delicate jali work is quite distinctive. A good deal of functional domestic stoneware is beautifully shaped and ornamented. A significant variety is made with yellow lime stone, others with coloured white marble. Some of the work is in filigreed, fretted marble or sandstone. Sculpting is a live art in Rajasthan and Hindu deities made in white marble and sometimes glided over are popular.

Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh has green soft stone from which the local carvers make a number of small items, animals, boxes, trays etc. But the important products are the religious images.

The stone carvers work maninly on soap stone but some use sand stone and other hard stones as well to make traditional figures conparable in beauty to the old temple sculptures. Apart from traditional figures, beautiful stone utensils and utility items are also made. Most of the turned utensils are made from a semi-hard grey stone which takes a beautiful dark polish.Even today the bowls, plates and glasses are made from this stone are notable for their sensitive line and texture. Ash-trays, cigarette boxes, containers of various kinds bowls and vases, particularly in the grey stone, are new made to cater to the needs at modern living.

Patharkatti in Gaya district is the most noted stone ware centre of Bihar. The place has the less expensive blue back pot stone from which images and household articles like the pestle, the mortal kharal (medicine grinder) etc. are made. Buddhist icon are a specialty. Chandil and Karaikalla in Singhbum district and Dumka in Santhal parganas work in beautifully grained greenish black soap stone.

A remarkable heritage the south has in stonework is the presentation of animal and bird life. The temple carvings are profusely strewn with their figures. In the famous Mahabalipuram, carving are arresting figure of Arjuna standing on the traditional penance pose an one leg, one of two cots hunting pigeons. Then there is the comic figure of a stag scratching its nose with its hind leg. A buffalo chewing the kud is so alive as to seem the mouth is moving. So even creatures like the pig, the duck, the minitor lizard, the fowl, the spider, all rub shoulders with the mighty elephant, the lion and horse.

Craftsmen carve images of Gods and Goddesses according to given rules regarding proportions and poses, ornamentation and weapons. Apart from images and decorative objects, utility articles such as bowls, vases, wall panels and book ends are also produced.
Procedure
The crafts person while working on the sajjar pathar first studies the natural design contains in the stone selected to work upon. The shaping is done thereafter very carefully with chisel and hammers. Water is sprinkled repeatedly to avoid heat generation. The stone is smoothened by rubbing with sand papers or file.

Dimensions of the figure to be manufactured are marked on a stone slab. Extra edges are removed from the slab by beating with a hammer. Big pieces of stone are cut vertically into smaller slabs, and rough sketches are made on it. The article is taken out from the slab with the aid of a saw. This slab is now converted in the form of the desired figure with a hammer and a chisel. Minor carvings are done by pointed chisel. A hammer and chisel do further smoothening. Before carving the stone is kept in boiling water overnight and treated chemically. This smoothens and whitens the surface of the stone. Polishing is done for the final finishing with sand or carborundum pieces. Several of the carved artifacts are painted. Others are fitted with the looking glasses, brass fittings etc.

In carving an image, the stone carver sketches a rough outline of the sculpture on the stone - block. The craftsmen, sprinkle water on the stone during the course of their work because of the friction generated due to the constant chiseling away of the unwanted material results in the tools heating up. Finishing is accomplished in a variety of ways from sand-papering, polishing with multani-mitti or clay, oil and cloth.

An outline is drawn on hard or soft stone which is already cut to the appropriate size. Once the outline is incised indicating the shape, the final figure is brought out by removing the unwanted portions. While for the harder stones this is done by chiseling out the extra material, with softer stones. This is done by scraping out the same with a sharp flat-edged iron tool.

Dimensions of the figure to be manufactured are marked on a stone slab. Extra edges are removed from slab by beating with hammer. Big pieces of stone are cut vertically into smaller slabs, and rough sketches are made on it. The article is taken out from the slab with the aid of saw. This slab is now converted in the form of desired figure with hammer and chisel. Minor carving is done by pointed chisel. A hammer and chisel do further smoothening. Polishing is done for the final finalising.

In Tamilnadu there is a great tradition in stone carving of icons, which are of classical excellence. There is a very strict guidance on how to prepare an icon. There are vivid and picturesque descriptions of different compositions of the stones to help one in the correct selection. The lines on a stone can be like a rope or sunrays, or showers of rain. Similarly sports or dots can be like ripe or unripe grapefruits or the leaves of the wild date or the tender leaf of a bamboo tree or a spiders begs.

Dimensions of the figure to be manufactured are marked on a stone slab. Extra edges are removed from the slab by beating with a hammer. Big pieces of stone are cut vertically into smaller slabs, and rough sketches are made on it. The article is taken out from the slab with the aid of a saw. This slab is now converted in the form of the desired figure with a hammer and a chisel. Minor carvings are done by the pointed chisel and hammer do the further smoothening.
Resources
Basic Material : Sajjar pathar, moss agate, agate oxides.

Basic Material : White marble, sand stone, colours, file, saw, chisel, polish, hammer.

Basic Material : Green stone, multani mitti, stone slab, oil, cloth.
Decorative Material : looking glasses, shining leaves, sandpaper.
Colouring Material : water colours.

Basic Material : Soap stone, sand stone, hard stones, granite, Red sand stone

Basic Material : Variety of stones, file, saw, chisel, polish, hammer
Colouring Material : Colours black, pink, brown

Basic Material : Stone, chisels, hammer

Basic Material : Stone, colours, polish, sand paper, file, saw, chisel, hammer
Equipments
Hammer, chisel, and file.



File, saw, chisel, polish

hammers, chisel, muna,patile, martual, thuk -thuki and nihana





Artifacts
Proper cutters, knife handles, paper weights, necklaces, bracelets, broach, handles for dagger, tops of walking sticks, statues .

Religious images roofing, flooring, stair cases, platforms, tomb stone, furniture, table ware.

Figures of animals, boxes, trays, carved panels.

Traditional figures, turned utensil, bowls, plates, glasses, ash trays, cigarette boxes, containers, bowls, vases

Utility articles jewel boxes, idols, table lamps, minor frames, candle stands, ashtrays, food container, plates, bowls, glass, food containers

images, statues, figures of human and animals

images of gods & goddesses, weapons, bowls, vases, wall panels, books ends

Indian Crafts : History of Stone Craft