Upon attaining enlightenment, the Buddha was
faced with the conundrum of what he wanted to do with the priceless pearls of
wisdom. Initially, he was unwilling to interact with the world but when Lord
Brahma descended and urged him to share his knowledge, the Buddha obliged. From
the first sermon, an event known as the Dharmachakra-pravartana (putting the
wheel of Dhamma into motion) a great tradition of Upadesha (preaching) was
established in which the Buddha spoke to his followers and answered their moral
and spiritual queries. Beginning with a handful of followers, the Buddhist sect
soon grew into a popular spiritual tradition that had in its basis the sermons
of the Buddha. In this wooden statue of preaching Buddha, we witness the
deification of the profundity of his supreme wisdom.
wooden preaching Buddha statue, a distinctive aesthetic quality is noticeable,
thanks to the bronze-toned slip on the wood which gives it a metallic
appearance, and the vibrant red petal-like motifs that adorn the Buddha’s robe.
The physical features and the unique style of draping the monastic robe in this
preaching Buddha wooden statue underline the Southeast Asian, especially
Japanese influence on the maker. The coils of Buddha’s hair are transformed
into numerous tiny bumps that cover his head, the face is slightly elongated
and the eyes instead of being depicted in the almond shape, are marked by two
identical incised lines. Instead of the three lines on the Buddha’s neck that
represent folds of flesh, this icon of Buddha teaching his Dhamma has a single,
deep curving line joining the neck to the torso and an ovular bump on the chest
just above the robe to provide a hint of fleshiness. The limbs, especially the
palms which are in different Mudras (gestures), the necklace that the Buddha
wears, and the shape of the lotus pedestal on which he is seated- all these
elements carry an appreciable difference in the style which becomes more
apparent when compared to the technique of traditional Indian art.
The robes of
the preaching Buddha statue cover both of his shoulders, wrapping him in a
multitude of petals that remind one of the cherry blossoms that are synonymous
with Japanese culture. In Buddhism, the cherry blossom signifies the transient
nature of human life, which goes through the unavoidable stages of bloom and
decay. Calmly wearing such profound wisdom as his attire, the Buddha has his
right hand raised in the “Karana Mudra”, which is a protective gesture that
signifies Buddha’s powers that guards the follower against negative forces.
Juxtaposing the philosophy attached to the cherry blossoms with the
significance of the Mudra, one can understand the potent message inherent in
this preaching Buddha statue- that one should face the reality of the
impermanence of life, but instead of being fearful, should follow the teachings
of the Buddha, which are the ultimate shield against the negativity that
surrounds human life.
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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