dancers, exquisitely youthful maidens devoted to the Seva (service) of the Lord
through their songs and dance have been a constant muse for the temple
sculptors who had the pleasure of experiencing their performances in the
Nritya-Mandapam (hall of dance) of the ancient Hindu shrines. Captured in the
medium of wood, here we have a dancing lady or Nartaki with her hands forming
the gesture of a fish- “Matsya mudra”.
dancing lady stands atop a lotus pedestal with her right foot slightly raised,
forming an appealing posture. Her presence is highlighted by an imposing floral
aureole, whose exquisiteness can be seen as an extension of the figure it
frames. Her flowing tresses are secured in a bun that is adorned with a jeweled
hair ornament. Flower-shaped earrings, three rows of necklaces, armbands,
wristbands, tasseled girdles, and anklets studded with gems add to the fabled
beauty of this wooden dancing lady. Her eyes are large, her nose is sharp and
her lips carry the delicateness of a flower- she is the epitome of feminine
charisma. Her hands are in a Samyuta-hasta (two hands) gesture in which both
palms are used to convey meaning. “Matsya mudra”- the gesture of a floating
fish as depicted in this wooden dancing lady statue represents the Matsya
avatar or fish incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who protected Manu from the great
flood of eradication (Jala- Pralaya). The gesture is a cue to the powers and
paternal benevolence of the protector of Srishti, in whose temple this Nartaki
must have performed, once upon a time.
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.
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