Wood Carving of West Bengal

Wood Carving of West Bengal

Some of the best examples of wood-carving in West Bengal are found in the pillars, brackets, beams, and rafters of traditional chandimantaps, village community halls which are the centres of rural culture. The carvings are floral and geometric. The roof was covered with the local golden grass reeds bound together in geometric patterns by cane to hide the bamboo framework. Examples of chandimantaps are at Atpur and Sripur-Balagarh in Hooghly district and Ula-Balagarh in Nadia district. The raths of Bengal are made of wood decorated with carved panels of floral or geometrically sculptured figures and a pair of wooden horses. The carvings and figures are in folk style for the raths, while those for the chandimantaps are in the classical style. Carved wooden images are seen in many village temples and domestic shrines. Among these carved figures, folk gods and goddesses are almost as numerous as the classical figures. Even figures carved in the classical tradition have a simple but expressive folk style. The figures are painted in symbolic colours and the images are carved in neem or bel wood. Sutradhar craftspersons of Kalna in Burdwan traditionally make huge platters and bowls in many interesting shapes hewn out of a large block of mango wood. In a few villages in the Howdah and 24 Parganas districts there are both Muslim and Hindu wood-carvers who specialise in fine carving; they make delicately carved wooden panels and decorative furniture in teak, sisam and mahogany. Except for the semi-tribal group of karangas, who make turned wood items in the Susunia Hapania forest region of Bankura district, there is no tradition of wood- turning in West Bengal.

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