By Srikanta Mohanty: The cultural history of Odisha has forever showcased the rich heritage of stone and wood carving works. Literally with an endless history, the craft has stayed here even several centuries before the birth of Christ. The excavations of the olden civilizations have perpetually unearthed a flourishing culture that gave highest importance to the art of stone and wood carvings. Despite the progress of civilization, this trade has flourished inviting constant attention of people from all over the world.
“ The stone and wood carvings have always treasured the pristine glory of the land. It has continued with an undying trend as generations have treasured their passion for art in the stone and wood carvings. When I step inside a shop for handicraft items or simply visit an ancient temple, I feel proud that I am part of such a grand heritage. The craft has continued so far not only kings and noblemen extended their support but it has the inherent worth in it that is simply timeless”- Says Jameswara Maharana. Although a carpenter, his ancestors were masters in the art of wood and stone sculpture.
Raghurajpur, the small village in the proximity of Puri has families dedicated to stone and wood carvings for generations. The artisans from the village have won national awards time and again bringing glory to the tradition of the place. With more than 100 families of 311 artisans, the village was declared a heritage village due to the contribution of families of artisans to various creative forms of art.
The rich heritage of stone and wood carvings is evident in the exquisite idols in the temples and life-style items. Apart from this, the dotted presence of monuments, exteriors of the temples, and old life-style items still bear the signature of finest craftsmanship of this ancient form of sculptural art.
“ As innumerable devotees visit the holy place Puri, they invariably buy the magnificent wooden images of Lord Jagganath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra. The wonderful toys in innumerable stalls outside the temple of Puri compel people to buy to decorate their homes. The legacy of this art has continued so far and would stay there forever”- Says Santilata Barik, who does not forget to take the wooden and stone pieces for her friends whenever she goes out of Odisha.