Rajasthan is not only known for its scenic beauty but also for its exotic art and craft industry. The sandalwood and wood work of Rajasthan is as famous as its beautiful surroundings. The state features different types of woods that give craftsmen to explore their skills and talent. The most conspicuous wood carvings can be seen in furniture items, decorative pieces, toys and house-hold items. The wood work industry in Rajasthan has grown over centuries due to the interest of the rulers in exotic carving. Several artists from Bassi, Udaipur, Pratapgarh have made their mark in the wood carving industry. The town of Bassi is in Rajasthan is well-known for making beautiful toys and puppets. Artists in the town are famous for making figures of Gauri and Ishar during the festival of Gangour. These idols are decorated with colourful clothes and various ornaments.
Woodwork has been there in Rajasthan since the 17th century. The masterpieces of woodwork from the 17th and 18th centuries can still be seen in the museums of Rajasthan. The grand entrance of the palaces and havelis feature intricately carved wooden doors. Many of the doors have been preserved and can be seen in different cities. Wood carving in Rajasthan can be dated back to the medieval period. During that era the carving was simple but quite elaborate. Most of the doors were decorated with other materials like ivory, bronze, lac, etc. Especially the doors in Bikaner were inlaid with ivory giving them an elegant touch.
The doors of Rajasthan indicated the beautiful wood carvings that were predominant in the area. The wooden doors also had an influence of the Mughal style; such designs were known as the Akbari Mughal Rajput style doors. This style included designs like lotuses, parts, peacocks, betels, medallions, etc. Among palace doors in Rajasthan the ones seen in Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jaipur are the most elegant and are inlaid with ivory.
detail requires attention and creating even a small item can take several days. The pattern to be carved is first drawn on the wood with the help of a pencil. The carving is then started with the help of different tools like carving knife, gouge, small saw known as coping saw, chisel, V-tool, veiner, sharpening equipment, etc.
The carving tool is a special knife for cutting, trimming and smoothing the wood. The gouge is used for carving hollows, making curves and rounds on the wood. The coping saw is useful for cutting chunks of wood and chisel is used for making straight lines and for cleaning flat surfaces. The V-tool is useful for making parting and emphasizing the lines. The veiner features a U-shaped cutting edge for making deep gouges. Different types of sharpening equipment are used for making edges.
Once the wood is carved it is given a beautiful finish by varnishing it. Depending on the requirement of the customer or the design, the craftsmen beautiful the wood carving with colourful painting or embed it with materials such as lac or ivory.