Monday, April 23, 2012

The Walnut Carvers

 A friend then led us to the home of a Wood Carver he knew.  In a room with unpainted cement walls, two men in their gray–brown wool pherans (wool overcoats worn both indoors and outdoors) were nearly camouflaged.  Sitting  on low stools, the men were deeply engrossed in their work, using simple chisels and carving tools to create works of art in walnut wood.  The work table  of the older man was formed from a thick board, naturally polished over the years the pot marked from use. As Master Carver, he quickly drew an undulating Maple leaf design on a chair leg and confidently  began carving.  The younger worker  was working on a bed headboard, further refining and deepening the cuts, resulting in a sculptural low–relief. As my friend showed me some of the completed works meaning against a wall, he commented that walnut hand carving is gradually disappearing in Kashmir, due to cheaper machine carved pieces, a ban on cutting down walnut trees, and fewer young people willing to engage in the craft. Taking a closer look at the works of art before me, I appreciated the variations of depth and texture only possible through handwork.

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