Scriptural tradition perceives the origin and accomplishment of dance, music, entire knowledge, rhetoric, Yoga, aesthetics and various other disciplines in Shiva alone. Hence, Dakshinamurti is an epithet used exclusively for Shiva. In immensely diversified Shaivite iconography the term Dakshinamurti denotes one of the Shiva’s many forms, that is, the form that represents him as the master of one skill or discipline, or of the other. Obviously, Dakshinamurti form has many manifestations related to various skills and disciplines that Lord Shiva commanded : 'Vinadhara Dakshinamurti' – expressing dance and music, 'Pushkara Dakshinamurti' – the expression of aestheticism and beauty, 'Vyakhyana Dakshinamurti' – master of rhetoric and the supreme teacher, 'Jnana Dakshinamurti' – possessed of all knowledge, 'Yoga Dakshinamurti' – one capable of controlling body and mind for the realisation of one's pure self, and the like.
This form of Shiva combines attributes of four major Dakshinamurti forms. He has been represented as holding his usual drum in his right upper hand, and a lotus, in his left, both symbolical of his Pushkara Dakshinamurti form. Shiva as drummer reveals gaiety, and the lotus represents aesthetic beauty, both the aspects of Pushkara Dakshinamurti. Shiva’s mount, Nandi, is delightfully couched on a basket-like moulded lotus – a further extension of the Pushkara Dakshinamurti iconography. The scripture held in his lower left hand denotes knowledge and hence his Jnana Dakshinamurti form, and the ‘vyakhyana-mudra’ – interpretive gesture of his lower right hand, his Vyakhyana Dakshinamurti form. Installed on a pedestal symbolic of a mountain and with one leg positioned as in meditation the image is in semi-yogic posture. More significantly, four of his disciples engaged in yogic practices around his seat suggest that Shiva is their Yoga-guru and master Yogi. One of the disciples on his right has horn on his head. This iconography suggests Shiva’s tribal and pre-Vedic links. The Apasmarapurusha is characteristic feature of Shiva’s Nataraja iconography. Here it suggests Shiva’s accomplishment as Yogic master who having subdued inertness symbolised by Apasmarapurusha in this representation has kindled his inherent spiritual energy by Yoga.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain
specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of
numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the
curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New
Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of
Click here to view a high resolution image of the sculpture (2.7 MB).
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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