Colourful, malleable, varied, hard or soft… wood provides the perfect canvas for Udayan and Ahmed Rauf to showcase their creativity. These paramparik artisans may follow different artistic traditions but their sensibilities unite them, as is evident at their stalls at the Hasthakala Art and Craft exhibition.

While Ahmed Rauf follows Saharanpur’s nearly 500-year-old Mughal tradition of carving on sheesham wood, Udayan’s superb handling of rosewood can be seen on a variety of carved and inlaid furniture items and icons.

Udayan, who hails from Madimoula near Mysore, learnt his craft from his father Nagayyan. He can craft anything in rosewood, be they 6-ft tall Balaji and Ganesha idols with inlay work or table tops and wall hangings. In his unit, about 15 people carve, sculpt, scoop and etch pretty patterns on to rosewood with the help of simple, traditional tools.

Pointing to a hanging that has animal and bird motifs, Udayan says “We cut wooden pieces of different colours from teak, sheesham and other local woods to fit the size, measurement and pattern already drawn on paper. We take a rosewood plank, scoop and etch out the concept and design, and then fit cut wooden pieces into the scooped portions.” The results are amazing.

Ahmed Rauf’s work on sheesham involves a lot of fine jaali work and borders, with typical Mughal roses and vine themes. His brass inlay work is equally fine. Says Rauf, “Carving is done using fine tools. We make the designs on the plank, table top or tray and scoop out the portion with our tools and then paste the brass pieces according to the design. This work is nuanced and time consuming. The final polishing is done 10 days after the design has set.” Rauf’s creations include trays, boxes, chests, bowls, hurricane lamps, small furniture items and screens.

The Hasthakala Art and Crafts exhibition also has on view Kondapalli toys, Pichwai and miniature paintings with gold embossed work done on Kishengarh stamp papers and ordinary post cards. The exhibition is on at Sri Sankara Hall, TTK Road, Teynampet, till July 10.

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