Like Ardhanarishvara, Uma-Maheshvara is also considered as an ontological symbol, but it more often symbolises cosmic unity of Purusha and Prakriti, spirit and matter, and essence and substance, that is, adveta oneness, of the apparent dveta two. In Ardhanarishvara form it is the two-ness of one. It is only with Uma or Parvati that Shiva is Maheshvara, the all accomplishing great god. The otherwise simple Shiva has as Maheshvara a majestic form, wears a Vishnu-like towering crown and is usually in a seated posture. He is the presiding god of love, but because he has associated with him Parvati, the love incarnated. Maheshvara is also Yogeshvara. Hence, one of his legs is in yogasana, while the other in lalitasana, one representing yoga, and the other, love. Uma-Maheshvara is one of the holiest divine forms, as in one form a devotee realizes the two great god and great goddess, love and yoga, and mundane and spiritual.
In its artistic quality and innovation, the statue is unique. In its theme it adheres to scriptures; in its style, to classicism; and in its over-all character, to various traditions of sculptural art that prevailed in early Orissa, Karnataka and Andhra from folk getting its vigour and strength and from classicism its elegance, minuteness of details and finish. In large wide open eyes of Shiva and Parvati and blend of varied elements, there reflects strong folk influence. Most strange is the inclusion of Kamadhenu, the celestial cow, as their vehicle. Kamadhenu, the wish-accomplishing cow, is neither Shiva's vehicle nor Parvati's. Kamadhenu has been modelled as half woman and half animal. Except for horns, the forepart of Kamadhenu comprises a woman's face with prominent humanised features and well-modeled breasts, and the hind part with thuds and characteristically placed tail of a cow. Prabhavali, the most beautiful element of the statue carved with exceptional ingenuity, reveals, in its vigorous thrust and strength, great folk influence. It not only assimilates in one form varied types of foliage and flowers but also birds, fish and auspicious Shrimukha. The two banana-buds, around the shoulders of the divine couple, are modelled to serve both, banana-buds and a pair of auspicious fish.
Neelakantha, the blue-throated Shiva, has been transformed here as blue-complexioned Maheshvara. The otherwise simply bejewelled great Lord a simple lace of beads, a few ornaments on arms and feet, and a huge snake forming the main necklace, wears a majestic towering crown. He is in loin cloth and has Uma seated on his left thigh. Sharp features, angular chins, small lips, well defined necks and tall slender figures are features common to both, Uma and Maheshvara. Uma, with her deep navel, long fingers, narrow waist and elegantly moulded breasts, has been modelled with an anatomy and iconography prescribed in texts for a Nayika.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.
How to care for Wood Statues?
Wood is extensively used in sculpting especially in countries like China, Germany, and Japan. One feature that makes the wood extremely suitable for making statues and sculptures is that it is light and can take very fine detail. It is easier for artists to work with wood than with other materials such as metal or stone. Both hardwoods, as well as softwood, are used for making sculptures. Wood is mainly used for indoor sculptures because it is not as durable as stone. Changes in weather cause wooden sculptures to split or be attacked by insects or fungus. The principal woods for making sculptures and statues are cedar, pine, walnut, oak, and mahogany. The most common technique that sculptors use to make sculptures out of wood is carving with a chisel and a mallet. Since wooden statues are prone to damage, fire, and rot, they require proper care and maintenance.
It is extremely important to preserve and protect wooden sculptures with proper care. A little carelessness and negligence can lead to their decay, resulting in losing all their beauty and strength. Therefore, a regular clean-up of the sculptures is a must to prolong their age and to maintain their shine and luster.
Wood has been a preferred material for sculptures and statues
since ancient times. It is easy to work with than most metals and
stones and therefore requires less effort to shape it into any
desired shape or form. The texture of the wood gives an element of
realism to the sculpture. The selection of an appropriate wood
type is necessary for carving. Woods that are too resinous or
coniferous are not considered good for carving as their fiber is
very soft and thus lacks strength. On the other hand, wood such as
Mahogany, Oakwood, Walnut wood, Weet cherry wood, etc., are
preferred by sculptors because their fiber is harder.
A wood sculptor uses various tools such as a pointed chisel in one
hand and a mallet in another to bring the wood to the desired
measurement and to make intricate details on it. A carving knife
is used to cut and smooth the wood. Other tools such as the gouge,
V-tool, and coping saw also serve as important tools in wood
carving. Although the wood carving technique is not as complex and
tough as stone carving or metal sculpting, nonetheless, a wood
carver requires a high level of skills and expertise to create a
The process of wood carving begins with selecting a chunk of wood
that is required according to the type and shape of the statue to
be created by the sculptor. Both hardwoods and softwoods are used
for making artistic pieces, however, hardwoods are preferred more
than softer woods because of their durability and longevity. But
if heavy detailing is to be done on the statue, wood with fine
grain would be needed as it would be difficult to work with
Once the wood type is selected, the wood carver begins the
general shaping process using gouges of various sizes. A gouge
is a tool having a curved cutting edge which is useful in
removing large unwanted portions of wood easily without
splitting the wood. The sculptor always carves the wood across
the grain of the wood and not against it.
When a refined shape of the statue is obtained, it is time for
making details on the statue using different tools. This is
achieved by using tools such as a veiner to make and a V-tool to
create decorative and sharp cuts.
Once finer details have been added, the sculptor is ready to
smoothen the surface and give it a perfect finish. Tools such as
rasps and rifflers are used to get a smooth surface. The finer
polishing is obtained by rubbing the surface with sandpaper. If
a textured surface is required, this step is skipped. Finally,
to protect the statue from excessive dirt accumulation, the
sculptor applies natural oils such as walnut or linseed oil all
over it. This also brings a natural sheen to the statue.
Wood statues are lighter in weight and less expensive than metal
or stone pieces. Because wood is prone to fast decay by fungus and
algae, statues made out of this material are not preferred to be
kept outside. The rich tradition of wood carving in countries such
as Africa, Egypt, India, and Nepal has been followed for many
centuries. Indian craftsmen are specialized in this classic art
and continue to exhibit their extraordinary artistic skills.
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