Origin: One of the oldest skill of humankind, wood carving roots go far back ensuring it appears universal. Wood Carving is one of the exclusive art forms of West Bengal. Bengal is loved for its art and craft.
Present Day: Wood carving is a famous Indian handicraft. This art form is found in almost every Bengali household as it’s passed on from generation to generation. It is famous for making toys for children as well as decorative items. Kalighat dolls and Natungram wood carvings are very famous from West Bengal. These wood carving is also for figurines, traditional gods and goddesses. The most amazing patterns and motifs are folk motifs, flowers, leaves etc.
One of the most famous and exclusive piece of art is called Chandimantaps which are community halls made out of brackets and pillars. These pillars, brackets, and beams are made of beautifully carved wood. Atpur, sripur in Balagarh of Hoogly district, Ula in Balagarhin Nadia district are famous for such Chandimantaps. The wood carvers are addressed as Sutradhars. In Burdwan district of West Bengal they are only called Sutradhars. This district is known for huge platters and bowls made out of mango wood. In south Bengal, both Hindu and Muslim practice this art form.
The different types of Wood carving products are trays, bowls, cigarette boxes, vases, table lamps, wall plaque, jewellery boxes, ornamental caskets, hanging mirrors, photo frames etc. Wood carving is also done on larger scale for furniture like doors, bedstead, dressing units, tables, chairs, windows etc.
One of the most famous decorative pieces is Rath which has beautiful carving in geometrical and folk patterns. The wood work of West Bengal consists of two types of wood carving that is Painted wood carving and plain wood carvings.
Procedure: Wood carving is done on wood from Bel, Teak, Shisham, Mahogany, Neem and Mango. Wood carving products are made using different parts of the tree like root, trunk and the branches. Products are made by picking wood post grain analyzing.
Making of wood carving furniture is time consuming and requires high level of skill. Once the design and the figure is selected, the log of the wood is elected in line with product requirement. Then, carving process is initiated using different types of tools like knives, gouges and saw etc. The last step of this process is polishing and adding finishing touches to the product. The style of art in wood carving is folk and traditional. Usually the figurines are made from wood of Bel and neem and then they are painted using paints extracted from vegetables and minerals
Wood carved products have huge demand overseas and are exported in different parts of the world like USA, U.K, Germany, France, Italy, UAE, Canada etc. These handicrafts have contributed in a big way to Indian economy and this also helps in preserving Indian culture and heritage.
Bring Home: Wood carved products can easily be bought from various markets of West Bengal.