Tamil Nadu

In Tiruvannamalai, sculptors bring dead wood to life

New form: Wood carving artisans from Mamallapuram working on dead trees in Girivalam to turn them into sculptures.  

Visually delightful sculptures on trees are surprising pilgrims on the ‘Girivalam’ (circumambulation of sacred hill) of ‘Annamalai’ or ‘Arunachaleswaram’ here. Skilled artisans are providing finishing touches to the arduous work they began 18 months ago on about 60 trees.

At the start of 2018, the district administration found several well-grown trees along Girivalam path in Tiruvannamalai had withered “due to suffocation underneath their roots”.

Task assigned

District Collector K.S. Kandasamy handed over the task of carving the dried wood to a team from Mamallapuram.

They were hired to carve images on the withered trees.

Based on the tree’s shape and size, the tree sculptors were able to complete the carvings on one tree in about a week’s time.

Thus, a dead tree has taken the form of a lizard to the left and a stork to the right. Musical instruments, and natural life such as peacock, stork, fish, tiger, and elephant, apart from snails and reptiles, are receiving final touches now.

Speaking to The Hindu, R. Madurai Manikanda Raja, who led the team, said, “For the first time, trees have taken the shape of various sculptures in their own formation. I was a little doubtful at the start. I went round several times on the Girivalam path to choose the trees and sketched them into sculptures. After this, I agreed to go ahead, thanks to the motivation and support given by the District Collector.”

“It was not as easy as we thought. Concerted effort and creative knowledge transformed into results. We are planning to finish in the next 20 days and may be able to handover the work to the district administration,” Mr. Raja said.

Sources in the district administration said that all withered trees will be fully carved before the Karthigai Deepam festival on December 10.

Good response

The novel effort at beautification has drawn good response from the public.

The Highways Department, which maintains this road, should ensure the carvings are consistently maintained over the years, the artisans have suggested.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 11:39:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/in-tiruvannamalai-sculptors-bring-dead-wood-to-life/article29939263.ece

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