Traversing through the Kumta belt of the Western Ghats is a synonym for scenic landscapes amidst bright, red, mineral-rich earth. It hardly seemed a coincidence when I stumbled upon a stone-sculpting workshop since lately I have been thinking about stone sculptors and wood carvers after the trip to Kathmandu – how arduous the work is, the amount of skill that’s required in the crafting traditions, the patience required to master the craft and the future of the craft.
In the sidelines of a State highway, these craftsmen etched on – from small idols to gigantic ones. They worked purely on custom orders and I was happy to hear there was a waiting period. Some of the pieces, ready for dispatch, spoke volumes about their finesse and ability for fine work.
In the last half century and more, the lack of patronage and in its absence, the void of market innovation is clearly impacting the future of such craft heritage.
There are very few pockets remaining in India which have stone sculptors and are predominantly based in Tamil Nadu (Mahabalipuram), Uttar Pradesh (Agra), Rajasthan, Orissa.
Here are snapshots of the workshop near Kumta, Karnataka.
Forest floor, Western Ghats
Work in progress, a deity of Lord Krishna
A beautifully chiselled Goddess
From nothingness to form