Wood Carving of Chattisgarh


The wood craft tradition is ancient and rich and follows a hereditary system. The products made range from fixtures of houses, pillars, bows and arrows, and Mata Jhulas, to farm implements and ritual items. In Raigarh and Sarguja, large figures of animals, birds, gods, goddesses, and humans are made. Wooden figures are crafted to propitiate supernatural powers. The idols made in Sarguja mainly represent tigers, horses, peacocks, lakkad babas, nag devtas, and the like. Tribal musical instruments like the membranophone are either made only of wood or else the dominant component is wood. The two membrane drums are made of a cylindrical hollow wooden body embellished with designs carved on their surfaces. Clappers which are played as accompaniments to drums and flutes are also made of wood. Ritual wooden objects are found in nearly all tribal groups. Tribal youth hold wooden imitations of axes, battle axes, and spears while dancing. These articles are ornamented with decorative designs. The designs are carved by a red-hot iron knife or a nail. This burns the wood and leaves a linear grooved impression. The motifs are geometric patterns, snakes, combs, and the sun and moon. Wooden birds that move their wings are also common. A single bird or sets of birds shaped in wood are fitted on the upper side of a wooden stick. The tail, wings, and beaks of these birds are loosely attached to the body and tied with strings. Beautiful carvings on wooden dancing stilts are made by the tribal youth. The tools used by the wood carvers are simple and are made of iron with wooden or bamboo grips. Tools used for scraping the bark and shaping the wood include the kaas or axe and the tatt or adze. The chisel is used for carving, scraping, and shaping. These have small cylindrical wooden handles or grips.

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