NCERT Textbook: Stone (Living Craft Traditions of India) Notes | Study Must Read (Old & New) NCERTs for IAS Preparation - UPSC

UPSC: NCERT Textbook: Stone (Living Craft Traditions of India) Notes | Study Must Read (Old & New) NCERTs for IAS Preparation - UPSC

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 Page 1


Even today the stone carvers of Tamil Nadu begin with a
prayer that first begs forgiveness from Mother Earth for
cutting the stone. The prayer ends with offerings of sweets
and milk to the earth and a solemn promise never to misuse
or waste stone.
The stone cutter starts by locating a good stone quarry.
Then begins the process of cutting what he needs from the
mother rock. Metal pegs are hammered in a straight line
into the rock at intervals. Water is poured on to the rock to
wet it. The change in night and day temperatures causes
contraction and expansion and the rock gradually slits
along the straight peg lines into perfect slabs.
The most interesting part of the creative process is when
the artist chooses the stone piece to work on. How does he
decide which is the perfect piece of rock to use? What
qualities of the rock does the artist look for ó colour or
grain or texture, or the softness or hardness of the stone?
Can he ëseeí the image within the rock piece? Can he
imagine what its form will be or can he tell by touch how it
will feel when it is completely carved?
Types of Stone
There are myriad varieties of stone to be found in India.
Soft soap stone contrasts with the hard granite, an igneous
rock of the Deccan. Sedimentary rocks of the northern plains
of India produce a variety of coloured sandstones; and
metamorphic rocks, hardened over centuries under the soil
form marble and limestone.
Rocks acquire their properties from minerals that give
them colour, lustre, and strength. Depending on how the
rock was formed, igneous or sedimentary, its molecular
structure enhances it with a grain, layers and patterns.
Each type of rock, be it granite or sandstone, has
intrinsic qualities that the sculptor explores when he
creates a work of art.
 3
STONE
Relief sculpture, Halebid,
Karnataka
Page 2


Even today the stone carvers of Tamil Nadu begin with a
prayer that first begs forgiveness from Mother Earth for
cutting the stone. The prayer ends with offerings of sweets
and milk to the earth and a solemn promise never to misuse
or waste stone.
The stone cutter starts by locating a good stone quarry.
Then begins the process of cutting what he needs from the
mother rock. Metal pegs are hammered in a straight line
into the rock at intervals. Water is poured on to the rock to
wet it. The change in night and day temperatures causes
contraction and expansion and the rock gradually slits
along the straight peg lines into perfect slabs.
The most interesting part of the creative process is when
the artist chooses the stone piece to work on. How does he
decide which is the perfect piece of rock to use? What
qualities of the rock does the artist look for ó colour or
grain or texture, or the softness or hardness of the stone?
Can he ëseeí the image within the rock piece? Can he
imagine what its form will be or can he tell by touch how it
will feel when it is completely carved?
Types of Stone
There are myriad varieties of stone to be found in India.
Soft soap stone contrasts with the hard granite, an igneous
rock of the Deccan. Sedimentary rocks of the northern plains
of India produce a variety of coloured sandstones; and
metamorphic rocks, hardened over centuries under the soil
form marble and limestone.
Rocks acquire their properties from minerals that give
them colour, lustre, and strength. Depending on how the
rock was formed, igneous or sedimentary, its molecular
structure enhances it with a grain, layers and patterns.
Each type of rock, be it granite or sandstone, has
intrinsic qualities that the sculptor explores when he
creates a work of art.
 3
STONE
Relief sculpture, Halebid,
Karnataka
26 LIVING CRAFT TRADITIONS OF INDIA
The nature of the stone will determine how the sculpture
is made and also its possibilities. Soft soap stone allows
for delicate, intricate carving whereas sandstone, a fragile
sedimentary rock with layers of fine compressed sands and
grains, has to be handled with extreme care as it breaks easily.
Within each category of stone there is enormous variety.
Sandstone ranges from the golden yellow of Jaisalmer to
the soft pitted and speckled stone of Mathura and Fatehpur
Sikri. The sculptors of India have been using these stones
for the past five thousand years.
The difference in treatment of one stone from another in
the hands of an artist can be seen in the granite sculptures
of Mahabalipuram and the sandstone figures of Khajuraho.
Hard granite stone was used in South India to make temples
and household items like grinding stones. The quality of
stone available in each region of India distinguishes the
style and form that can be created.
Carving
Once the stone is selected the measurements for rough-
hewing and cutting of the sculpture are taken. Carving is a
difficult process, requiring skill, concentration and extreme
caution. It is a process in which forms are cut away or
subtracted from the original solid material.
Carving is a process in
which forms are cut away
or subtracted from the
original solid material.
Descent of Ganga in granite, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
Page 3


Even today the stone carvers of Tamil Nadu begin with a
prayer that first begs forgiveness from Mother Earth for
cutting the stone. The prayer ends with offerings of sweets
and milk to the earth and a solemn promise never to misuse
or waste stone.
The stone cutter starts by locating a good stone quarry.
Then begins the process of cutting what he needs from the
mother rock. Metal pegs are hammered in a straight line
into the rock at intervals. Water is poured on to the rock to
wet it. The change in night and day temperatures causes
contraction and expansion and the rock gradually slits
along the straight peg lines into perfect slabs.
The most interesting part of the creative process is when
the artist chooses the stone piece to work on. How does he
decide which is the perfect piece of rock to use? What
qualities of the rock does the artist look for ó colour or
grain or texture, or the softness or hardness of the stone?
Can he ëseeí the image within the rock piece? Can he
imagine what its form will be or can he tell by touch how it
will feel when it is completely carved?
Types of Stone
There are myriad varieties of stone to be found in India.
Soft soap stone contrasts with the hard granite, an igneous
rock of the Deccan. Sedimentary rocks of the northern plains
of India produce a variety of coloured sandstones; and
metamorphic rocks, hardened over centuries under the soil
form marble and limestone.
Rocks acquire their properties from minerals that give
them colour, lustre, and strength. Depending on how the
rock was formed, igneous or sedimentary, its molecular
structure enhances it with a grain, layers and patterns.
Each type of rock, be it granite or sandstone, has
intrinsic qualities that the sculptor explores when he
creates a work of art.
 3
STONE
Relief sculpture, Halebid,
Karnataka
26 LIVING CRAFT TRADITIONS OF INDIA
The nature of the stone will determine how the sculpture
is made and also its possibilities. Soft soap stone allows
for delicate, intricate carving whereas sandstone, a fragile
sedimentary rock with layers of fine compressed sands and
grains, has to be handled with extreme care as it breaks easily.
Within each category of stone there is enormous variety.
Sandstone ranges from the golden yellow of Jaisalmer to
the soft pitted and speckled stone of Mathura and Fatehpur
Sikri. The sculptors of India have been using these stones
for the past five thousand years.
The difference in treatment of one stone from another in
the hands of an artist can be seen in the granite sculptures
of Mahabalipuram and the sandstone figures of Khajuraho.
Hard granite stone was used in South India to make temples
and household items like grinding stones. The quality of
stone available in each region of India distinguishes the
style and form that can be created.
Carving
Once the stone is selected the measurements for rough-
hewing and cutting of the sculpture are taken. Carving is a
difficult process, requiring skill, concentration and extreme
caution. It is a process in which forms are cut away or
subtracted from the original solid material.
Carving is a process in
which forms are cut away
or subtracted from the
original solid material.
Descent of Ganga in granite, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
27 STONE
A block of stone is carved by chiselling away tiny chips in
order to create the desired shape. Once the stone has been
carved the chips cannot be put back or replaced. This means
the artist has to have a precise and accurate idea of how far
to carve and what to remove. One cannot afford to make
mistakes in this process for once the stone is cut away or
carved it cannot be put back. Imagine the acumen needed
to plan in advance the shape of the face, the size of the
smile and the right angle of the jewel that will adorn a
carved image. Once the rough work is over, details are carved
with finer tools and then the stone is polished. Some stones
can be polished to shine like a mirror.
Types of Stone Works
Stone objects include household objects like bowls, plates, grinding
stones, and pillars, beams and brackets for construction of houses.
Figures made in solid materials like stone are further classified into
categories that explain their technical dimensions:
? Relief-sculptured panels
? Three-dimensional figures in the round.
Low relief: Mahakapi Jataka,
Bharhut, Madhya Pradesh
Relief-sculptured Panels: A relief has carvings only on
one side. The carving can be shallow or deep while the other
side is flat and is usually embedded into the masonry work
of the building. A low relief can be 1ñ3 cm deep and high.
Relief can almost look like a three-dimentional sculpture.
Three-dimensional Figures: Such figures can be viewed
from all sides. They can also be used to create free-standing
pillars like those erected
by Ashoka throughout
his empire in the third
century BCE.
Three-dimensional figure:
torso of Vishnu in red
sandstone, Mathura,
Uttar Pradesh
Page 4


Even today the stone carvers of Tamil Nadu begin with a
prayer that first begs forgiveness from Mother Earth for
cutting the stone. The prayer ends with offerings of sweets
and milk to the earth and a solemn promise never to misuse
or waste stone.
The stone cutter starts by locating a good stone quarry.
Then begins the process of cutting what he needs from the
mother rock. Metal pegs are hammered in a straight line
into the rock at intervals. Water is poured on to the rock to
wet it. The change in night and day temperatures causes
contraction and expansion and the rock gradually slits
along the straight peg lines into perfect slabs.
The most interesting part of the creative process is when
the artist chooses the stone piece to work on. How does he
decide which is the perfect piece of rock to use? What
qualities of the rock does the artist look for ó colour or
grain or texture, or the softness or hardness of the stone?
Can he ëseeí the image within the rock piece? Can he
imagine what its form will be or can he tell by touch how it
will feel when it is completely carved?
Types of Stone
There are myriad varieties of stone to be found in India.
Soft soap stone contrasts with the hard granite, an igneous
rock of the Deccan. Sedimentary rocks of the northern plains
of India produce a variety of coloured sandstones; and
metamorphic rocks, hardened over centuries under the soil
form marble and limestone.
Rocks acquire their properties from minerals that give
them colour, lustre, and strength. Depending on how the
rock was formed, igneous or sedimentary, its molecular
structure enhances it with a grain, layers and patterns.
Each type of rock, be it granite or sandstone, has
intrinsic qualities that the sculptor explores when he
creates a work of art.
 3
STONE
Relief sculpture, Halebid,
Karnataka
26 LIVING CRAFT TRADITIONS OF INDIA
The nature of the stone will determine how the sculpture
is made and also its possibilities. Soft soap stone allows
for delicate, intricate carving whereas sandstone, a fragile
sedimentary rock with layers of fine compressed sands and
grains, has to be handled with extreme care as it breaks easily.
Within each category of stone there is enormous variety.
Sandstone ranges from the golden yellow of Jaisalmer to
the soft pitted and speckled stone of Mathura and Fatehpur
Sikri. The sculptors of India have been using these stones
for the past five thousand years.
The difference in treatment of one stone from another in
the hands of an artist can be seen in the granite sculptures
of Mahabalipuram and the sandstone figures of Khajuraho.
Hard granite stone was used in South India to make temples
and household items like grinding stones. The quality of
stone available in each region of India distinguishes the
style and form that can be created.
Carving
Once the stone is selected the measurements for rough-
hewing and cutting of the sculpture are taken. Carving is a
difficult process, requiring skill, concentration and extreme
caution. It is a process in which forms are cut away or
subtracted from the original solid material.
Carving is a process in
which forms are cut away
or subtracted from the
original solid material.
Descent of Ganga in granite, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
27 STONE
A block of stone is carved by chiselling away tiny chips in
order to create the desired shape. Once the stone has been
carved the chips cannot be put back or replaced. This means
the artist has to have a precise and accurate idea of how far
to carve and what to remove. One cannot afford to make
mistakes in this process for once the stone is cut away or
carved it cannot be put back. Imagine the acumen needed
to plan in advance the shape of the face, the size of the
smile and the right angle of the jewel that will adorn a
carved image. Once the rough work is over, details are carved
with finer tools and then the stone is polished. Some stones
can be polished to shine like a mirror.
Types of Stone Works
Stone objects include household objects like bowls, plates, grinding
stones, and pillars, beams and brackets for construction of houses.
Figures made in solid materials like stone are further classified into
categories that explain their technical dimensions:
? Relief-sculptured panels
? Three-dimensional figures in the round.
Low relief: Mahakapi Jataka,
Bharhut, Madhya Pradesh
Relief-sculptured Panels: A relief has carvings only on
one side. The carving can be shallow or deep while the other
side is flat and is usually embedded into the masonry work
of the building. A low relief can be 1ñ3 cm deep and high.
Relief can almost look like a three-dimentional sculpture.
Three-dimensional Figures: Such figures can be viewed
from all sides. They can also be used to create free-standing
pillars like those erected
by Ashoka throughout
his empire in the third
century BCE.
Three-dimensional figure:
torso of Vishnu in red
sandstone, Mathura,
Uttar Pradesh
28 LIVING CRAFT TRADITIONS OF INDIA
Stone Sculpture through the Ages
At Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh, there are a number of
rock shelters of the Stone Age period. Early inhabitants
lived in natural caves and created fine tools and flints of
agate and other natural stones in the area. These tiny flints
and well-carved stone implements are the first examples
in the long story of Indian sculpture.
At Ellora, in Maharashtra, there are Hindu, Buddhist
and Jain rock-cut shrines. The Kailash temple at Ellora of
the ninth century is an entire temple that was carved out
of the natural hillside. The temple is really a massive
sculpture cut out of a single piece of the hill. The artists
started work from the top and carved downwards,
beginning with the  towering roof, the windows, the doors
through which one enters into halls with enormous
sculptured panels.
View of Kailashnath Temple, Ellora
Page 5


Even today the stone carvers of Tamil Nadu begin with a
prayer that first begs forgiveness from Mother Earth for
cutting the stone. The prayer ends with offerings of sweets
and milk to the earth and a solemn promise never to misuse
or waste stone.
The stone cutter starts by locating a good stone quarry.
Then begins the process of cutting what he needs from the
mother rock. Metal pegs are hammered in a straight line
into the rock at intervals. Water is poured on to the rock to
wet it. The change in night and day temperatures causes
contraction and expansion and the rock gradually slits
along the straight peg lines into perfect slabs.
The most interesting part of the creative process is when
the artist chooses the stone piece to work on. How does he
decide which is the perfect piece of rock to use? What
qualities of the rock does the artist look for ó colour or
grain or texture, or the softness or hardness of the stone?
Can he ëseeí the image within the rock piece? Can he
imagine what its form will be or can he tell by touch how it
will feel when it is completely carved?
Types of Stone
There are myriad varieties of stone to be found in India.
Soft soap stone contrasts with the hard granite, an igneous
rock of the Deccan. Sedimentary rocks of the northern plains
of India produce a variety of coloured sandstones; and
metamorphic rocks, hardened over centuries under the soil
form marble and limestone.
Rocks acquire their properties from minerals that give
them colour, lustre, and strength. Depending on how the
rock was formed, igneous or sedimentary, its molecular
structure enhances it with a grain, layers and patterns.
Each type of rock, be it granite or sandstone, has
intrinsic qualities that the sculptor explores when he
creates a work of art.
 3
STONE
Relief sculpture, Halebid,
Karnataka
26 LIVING CRAFT TRADITIONS OF INDIA
The nature of the stone will determine how the sculpture
is made and also its possibilities. Soft soap stone allows
for delicate, intricate carving whereas sandstone, a fragile
sedimentary rock with layers of fine compressed sands and
grains, has to be handled with extreme care as it breaks easily.
Within each category of stone there is enormous variety.
Sandstone ranges from the golden yellow of Jaisalmer to
the soft pitted and speckled stone of Mathura and Fatehpur
Sikri. The sculptors of India have been using these stones
for the past five thousand years.
The difference in treatment of one stone from another in
the hands of an artist can be seen in the granite sculptures
of Mahabalipuram and the sandstone figures of Khajuraho.
Hard granite stone was used in South India to make temples
and household items like grinding stones. The quality of
stone available in each region of India distinguishes the
style and form that can be created.
Carving
Once the stone is selected the measurements for rough-
hewing and cutting of the sculpture are taken. Carving is a
difficult process, requiring skill, concentration and extreme
caution. It is a process in which forms are cut away or
subtracted from the original solid material.
Carving is a process in
which forms are cut away
or subtracted from the
original solid material.
Descent of Ganga in granite, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
27 STONE
A block of stone is carved by chiselling away tiny chips in
order to create the desired shape. Once the stone has been
carved the chips cannot be put back or replaced. This means
the artist has to have a precise and accurate idea of how far
to carve and what to remove. One cannot afford to make
mistakes in this process for once the stone is cut away or
carved it cannot be put back. Imagine the acumen needed
to plan in advance the shape of the face, the size of the
smile and the right angle of the jewel that will adorn a
carved image. Once the rough work is over, details are carved
with finer tools and then the stone is polished. Some stones
can be polished to shine like a mirror.
Types of Stone Works
Stone objects include household objects like bowls, plates, grinding
stones, and pillars, beams and brackets for construction of houses.
Figures made in solid materials like stone are further classified into
categories that explain their technical dimensions:
? Relief-sculptured panels
? Three-dimensional figures in the round.
Low relief: Mahakapi Jataka,
Bharhut, Madhya Pradesh
Relief-sculptured Panels: A relief has carvings only on
one side. The carving can be shallow or deep while the other
side is flat and is usually embedded into the masonry work
of the building. A low relief can be 1ñ3 cm deep and high.
Relief can almost look like a three-dimentional sculpture.
Three-dimensional Figures: Such figures can be viewed
from all sides. They can also be used to create free-standing
pillars like those erected
by Ashoka throughout
his empire in the third
century BCE.
Three-dimensional figure:
torso of Vishnu in red
sandstone, Mathura,
Uttar Pradesh
28 LIVING CRAFT TRADITIONS OF INDIA
Stone Sculpture through the Ages
At Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh, there are a number of
rock shelters of the Stone Age period. Early inhabitants
lived in natural caves and created fine tools and flints of
agate and other natural stones in the area. These tiny flints
and well-carved stone implements are the first examples
in the long story of Indian sculpture.
At Ellora, in Maharashtra, there are Hindu, Buddhist
and Jain rock-cut shrines. The Kailash temple at Ellora of
the ninth century is an entire temple that was carved out
of the natural hillside. The temple is really a massive
sculpture cut out of a single piece of the hill. The artists
started work from the top and carved downwards,
beginning with the  towering roof, the windows, the doors
through which one enters into halls with enormous
sculptured panels.
View of Kailashnath Temple, Ellora
29 STONE
Sandstone panels with
geometric and floral design
were made to decorate palaces
and tombs during the medieval
period. The Mughals in the
sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries built some of the most
beautiful buildings in the world
like the Taj Mahal in Agra. The
sculptural decorations are of
many varieties ó marble jalis
are made out of a single slab of
stone that is cut to create a
lattice window that allows for
light and ventilation.
To make inlay marble or sandstone panels the artist
has to carve out the design in the form of compartments
on the flat stone slab. Then precious and semi-precious
stones are cut into exact pieces of the pattern and laid
into the compartments. The inlay work in the Taj Mahal is
so extraordinary that over twenty pieces of different
coloured stones were used to create a single flower.
Marble carving, Taj Mahal
Jali work, sixteenth century, Sidi Sayyid Mosque, Ahmedabad
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