The tired maid, the prey of melancholy, toiling with herself,
suspended her song, let her lyre slip upon her thigh and she
found she was leaning upon it. In the heat of passion her feet
faltered. Her love longing burst from her face and in its glow
the innocent maid looked the beauty incarnate. A peacock, just a
passer-by, looked at her and was as much in grief. The
compassionate bird, in its effort to relieve her of her pain,
danced to colours, rhythm and pace and in jubilation and ecstasy
and coaxed and caressed her in many ways but nothing solaced the
ailing maid. The bird then took her upon its back and brought her
to a barren tree bereft of twigs, leaves and flowers but was
still the home of loving couples of birds and was satisfied in
its new role. Tree's head held high despite desertion cooled her
agitating mind. She was as much moved by peacock's loving concern
and as much by its vital touch. She felt longing for love was as
much its part as were meeting and uniting.
This is the theme of a German ballad based on a local folk-lore.
Irrespective of the fact whether the sculptor was acquainted with
this theme or not, he brings the ballad to life in this
magnificent statue of the beautiful 'Apsara'. The artist has
blended with the theme of the ballad the Indian cult of mythical
beauty perceived in the form of the celestial nymph known as
'Apsara'. To ballad's lyricism the artist has added the language
of beauty which manifests in Apsara's celestial figure,
unsurpassed in elegance, anatomical proportions, aesthetic
visualisation and beauty of modeling. The artist has caught her
seated on peacock's back under the barren tree. Different from
the peacock of the ballad the peacock in the statue adopts more
lively and direct methods of cooling her passion. The bird not
only rocks maid's vulva, which by her very posture lies couched
upon its ribbed bony back and excites her entire being by its
strokes but also cools her passion by sucking her nipple.
Different from ballad's maid the nymph of the statue is looking
for more excitement and once it sends her into a trance-like
state she closes her eyes and descends into herself for it is
only there that the oceans of delight swell.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.
Of Related Interest:
Apsaras (Batik Painting On Cotton)
Apsaras on Column Piece (South Indian Temple Wood Carving)
Celestial Nymphs - Apsaras (South Indian Temple Wood Carving)
Yakshi, The Celestial Dancer (South Indian Temple Wood Carving)
Yakshi (South Indian Temple Wood Carving)
Every Woman a Goddess: The Ideals of Indian Art (Article)
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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