Stone Craft In India – A Preview

Different kinds of rock originated on earth after numerous geological activities. These rocks with their different compositions came to be called stones like Redstone, Soapstone, Sandstone, Limestone, Marble, Granite and many others. Indian landmass is also made up of several kinds of rocks and the stone obtained here has been used in making forts, palaces, temples, sculptures, household items and for other miscellaneous purposes. In India, stone crafting traditions have their roots in pre-historic times, as at that time the weapons and other tools were made of stone. More professional approach in stone craft came in 7th century BC. During this time, several guilds of stone carvers and masons existed in India. During Maurya rule stone craft reached to its perfection. A number of rock stupas, rock cut caves and Buddhist chaityas were raised during this period. In India, all kind of stone sculptures and structures used to be made according to Shilpshastra, an ancient Hindu treatise on sculpture and architecture.

Region Wise Study of Stone Craft in India

In India, there are some regions that are specifically rich in stone culture. A classical culture prevails there of stone crafts. Depending upon the type of stone found and the tools used, the style and the finishing has been different and unique.

Stone Carving Practices of Orissa:

Stone carving is one of the major handicrafts of Orissa. Several archaeological monuments, rock-cut sculpture, carves and magnificent temples testify the claim.
All these have undergone intricate and very fine stone carving by the deft hands of the artisans. The temples of Puri, Konark, Lingaraj, Parasurameshwar and Mukteshwar are just the wonders crafted in stone. Whereas the stupas erected at Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri and Udaygiri are just par-excellence. The art of stone crafting reached pinnacle in the ancient and the early medieval period in Orissa with detailed exploration of each and every nuance of the stone craft. This art has automatically passed on to the present generation from their earlier generations. The present breed is not far behind its predecessors in creating the exact replica of the old masterpieces. Similarly, small sculptures are also made in big quantity catering to the huge demands of the visitors and the locals.

Stone Carving Practices of Rajasthan

Rajasthan has, though scarcity in wood and forest but it has abundant stone mineral.The landmass of Rajasthan is rich in different rocks like Granite, marble, Quartzite, Slate and other metamorphic rocks. The forts and palaces of Bharatpur, Baroli, Ramgarh, Nagda, Ajmer, Chittor, Mandsore, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Udaipur have been made using these stones. The jaaliwork or the latticework of Ajmer, Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Bikaner is of fine quality and intricate finish. Rajasthan has most significant quarries of marble at Makrana. The marble mined here is used profoundly in the world famous stone sculpture of Taj Mahal as well as the stone wonder, Dilwara Jain Temple at Mt. Abu. The artistry in Dilwara Jain temple is exquisite, fine, intricate and just fascinating. Different places of Rajasthan are famous for different kind of stones found. Kota is the center of production of grey stone which is used in floor making. Similarly Barmer and Ajmer are famous for Yellowstone and granite respectively. Beautiful statues of deities are made using the soft stone mined from the quarries of Dungarpur. Jaipur is the place where sculptures of all kinds are made by white marble. The statues of deities carved in Rajasthan are sent to all areas of the country.

Stone Art Practices of Uttar Pradesh

Mathura, Varanasi and Agra are the famous centers for stone craft in Uttar Pradesh. Some pieces of stone sculptures have been found from the excavations at Mathura and other adjacent areas belonging to Maurya period. The interesting fact is that lavishly used stone in these sculptures is the red sandstone mined from the Chunar. It indicates that this land once used to be the center of stone carving art some thousands of years back. During medieval period under the Mughal rule, several beautiful palaces and forts were constructed chiefly with the help of stone. Some fascinating examples of the stone sculptures if Uttar Pradesh are: Red fort of Agra, The Taj Mahal, the palace of Fatehpur Sikri, The tomb of Akbar at Sikandara and many more.

In the present times the focus of the stone craftsmen is changing towards exploring new kinds of stones as well as new article to be made. Nowadays they make the stone sculptures that beautify the home or the gift articles like candle stands, ashtrays, jewelry boxes, and Taj replicas. Carved pillars, railings and fireplaces are the architectural objects that the craft persons are making.
Rupbas near Agra and Karauli are the quarries which have produced the red stone used in the forts and palaces Agra, Delhi and Fatehpur Sikri.

At Varanasi the stone used is not hard marble but soft stone called Gorara. This is the stone that is brought from the Hamirpur and Mahoba areas. This stone has a unique quality to change its colors on polishing. Bowls and the servicing dishes are the popular products made of gorara stones. Sonia and Kalimohal areas of Varanasi and Gokulpura area of Agra are the centers of the main activities of stone craft in U.P.

Stone Art Practices of Southern India

In southern India, the temple architecture of Hoyasalas at Halebid and Belur are most exquisite and splendid example of stone craft. 57 Feet tall stone statue of Jain saint Gomateshwara at Shrabanbelgola is another example of marvelous stone art. Similarly, the ruins of Vijayanagara Empire at Hampi in Bellary are also the samples of glorious Indian tradition of Stone craft.

Other classic stone examples of stone craft in the southern part of India are: Meenakshi Temple Madurai and its 1000 pillared mandaps, Chidambaram Temple with beautiful panels depicting 108 karanas of the Natya Shastra, Kanchipuram accommodating a number of temples from he era of Pallawas to Nayaks and Granite carvings at Mamallapuram and Chingalpet. The Kailash temple at the Ellora caves is the monolithic structure whose craft is just unique and astonishingly beautiful.

The Emerging Architecture

Architecture is the art of designing and constructing buildings and other physical structures. Architecture is as old as human history because it is the basic need of a human being. Architecture symbolizes the history, culture, traditions, technology and climate of the nation. In primitive ages man was used to live in caves but with the passage of time trends changed. As “necessity is the mother of invention” human beings started to make houses made up of stones to protect themselves from extreme climatic conditions and also from wild animals. New innovations and new trends prevailed and human beings started to make houses with bricks made up of mud, then they started baking these bricks to make them much stronger to protect themselves from other natural disasters.

Till now, many of the artists and great philosophers have defined architecture but it has no static definition. It is the art which is directly concerned with all human beings because a man rather rich or poor, tall or short or may live in any part of the world has to face architecture in his lifetime. It can’t be avoided rather we like it or not. William Morris defined architecture as the “molding and altering to the human needs of the very face of the earth itself.” According to John Rustin, it is the art for all to learn because all are concerned with it. It is affected by climate, culture, technology and needs of the society. Architecture of a nation highly depicts the taste of its people. Architecture is also considered as frozen music. Sir Henry Watson says that architecture is commodity, firmness and delight.

Greek architecture is considered as most primitive architecture and long lasting too. In Greek architecture mostly Parthenon (Parthenon of Athens) and temples are included. This is also considered as one of the wonders of the world. Greeks mostly used stone carvings and the philosophy behind all their architecture is to make some place for worship. Ancient architecture mostly include stone carving, wood carving and most of the construction work is done by human hand which made it so unique. Most of the buildings are symmetrical where repetition of design and patterns can be seen. Similarly Roman, Gothic, Egyptian and Indian architecture is an elegant example of ancient architecture. It tells us all about the culture, climate and traditions of these civilizations. It seems that much hard work and struggle has been exerted to build these buildings. Materials used in these buildings are mostly natural like stone, marble, sand, wood etc. Repetition of ideas and materials could be seen in ancient architecture because of the lack of technology.

With the passage of time new inventions in the field of technology, chemistry and many other scientific fields are done. Many of the new materials have been introduced by the architects and chemists produced artificially at low cost. Today’s architecture is the blend of structuralism, formalism, high technology, expressionism and neo expressionism. Fast growing industries and professionalism give birth to modern architecture which is simple less ornamental but maximum people-oriented. Modern architecture is rich in inspiration and abstract ideas behind it. With the increasing complexity in architecture it is further divided into various branches. Environmental hazards are most hot issue today that’s why architects are trying to create designs which are environment friendly. Many of the architects gave stress on green building sustainable designs among them Sim Van der Ryn (1960), Ian Mc Harg (1970) UK and Brenda and Robert Vale from UK and New Zea land are most famous. Architects are now designing building which are self-sufficient in all energy demands. Dynamic Towers is the famous modern building which is good example of sustainable architecture which will be powered by water turbines and solar panels to fulfill its energy requirements.

In short, architecture whether good or bad has great impact on our lives. It is the symbol of the strength and progress of the nation but the architecture must be aesthetically pleasing and environment friendly to save our planet earth and to mold its face in a beautiful manner. Many trends have been passed away and many will come but its only purpose is to provide shelter for human beings and to create the world where they can live with peace and tranquility.

6 Benefits of Using Stones in Interior and Exterior of Building

The use of stone in interior and exterior applications is widely gaining popularity all over the world. Be it commercial building or private houses, owners prefer the use of stones to enhance the beauty of the building. Apart from domestic and corporate use the stone is liberally used in the buildings where the architecture plays a key role in the business like heritage hotels, restaurants and showrooms.

Here are 6 major reasons of the growing popularity of stones in construction of buildings:

Exquisite Visual Appeal

The stone can be employed in variety of interior and exterior applications. The Jalli, pillars or panels made of stone have a distinct air of vintage that add to the overall visual impression of your building. Besides, the modern architects and interior designers have extensively experimented with various types of stones to be used in interior as well as exterior applications. Hence the material that was already famous for its strength is now also used for its designer value.

Negligible Maintenance

Not only does it offer a unique, eye caressing look to the entire building, but also requires negligible maintenance and care. They do not get smudged or stained easily. Due to its characteristics the stone’s surface provides a sufficient protection.

Onetime Expense

One of the best advantages of employing stones in your interior and exteriors is that it requires onetime expense. Its long lasting nature eliminates all worries and you just need to pay a single time expense of stone, fixing material and labor charge.

Durability

Unlike paint or vitrified tiles that have a life of 2-3 years, stone is a long lasting material that will maintain its charm through decades. Besides, unlike vitrified tiles the stone does not show apparent effects of ageing. Its rugged surface does not catch the dust easily or apparently shows the effects of the same.

Stone Cladding

The dry cladding of stone provides a complete protection against stone falling off over a periods of time. The change in temperature causes stone to contract and expand that also affects its grip. As the stones grip is weakened the water, sand and moisture start seeping into the cement joints and ultimately it falls off the wall. It can be extremely detrimental and can result in fatal accident especially if the stone is clad on building facade

The Stone Can Remain Intact For Long

Most of the historical buildings have employed an extensive use of stone and have been standing intact through the centuries. Besides, the walls of old forts were almost entirely made of stones. Not only did they provide an efficient protection from the intruders during that time but till today these walls and forts are unaffected by the extremities of weather and effects of time. That strengthens the stone’s position as a durable building material.

Tuscan Architecture

Tuscan architecture combines modern and classic elements that make up pure Old World Europe. The beauty of architecture Tuscan style comes from the typical custom crafted natural stone. This includes limestone, travertine and marble. Terracotta floor and roof tiles are often used to give the antique feel. In Tuscan architecture, wooden beams are often refurbished from Tuscan farmhouses.

Tuscany architecture involves fine Italian building materials that create beautiful marble fireplaces, wrought iron gates and amazing fountains.

Integrating Tuscan elements brings a sense of Old-World charm and mystique to indoor and outdoor aspects of your home.

Exterior architecture typically include:

Tile roof Wrought iron front door entrance Walls covered with vines Crumbling stone walls that outline patios and walkways Beautiful travertine cobblestone driveways Brick or stone set garden paving Tuscan Landscape : Lavender, rosemary and sage can be found surrounding a Tuscan style home. Old lemon pots and antique jars give the feel of a Tuscany garden .

Interior architecture typically include:

Walls: Plaster walls with hand painted wall treatments. Usage of warm colors that represent the rolling hills of Tuscany bring the feel of basking under the Tuscan sun! Mediterranean decor involves subtle earth tones. These are standard in French Country decorating.

Ceilings: Textured richly. Stenciled borders can be found along the ceilings. Paneled or vaulted ceilings are a typical choice in decor as it creates pure Tuscany architectural framework. Wooden or chestnut beams provide a rustic feel to the Old World style home.

Floor: Glass, stone and tile are often used to create amazing mosaic art for flooring, which works well with table tops. Terracotta tiles, marble and ceramic flooring marks true Tuscany home decor. Selection of marbles that blend nicely with your Tuscan color palette.