Naqsh: The Art of Wood Carving in Traditional Houses of Gujarat : a Focus on Ornamentation
Through Naqsh, The Author Explores And Documents Exhaustively In Detail The Art Of Wood Carving Of Traditional Architecture Of Gujarat. Traversing From The History Of Wood Carving Of India, The Book Investigates Thoroughly The Tools And Techniques Applied By The Craftsmen Working Within The Trade Guilds. The Main Section Comprises Of The Ornamentations (Symbols, Motifs And Patterns) Witnessed On The Traditional Wooden Houses, Which Are Categorized And Analyzed In Terms Of Its Aesthetics, Its Occurence In Time And Its Physical And Symbolic Relation To The House. The Author Then Establishes Its Links And Connections To The Examples Found In Other Cultures And Explains The Dissemination Of This Art.
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Jay Thakkar, The Art of wood Carving in Traditional Houses of Gujarat: a Focus on Ornamentation, 2004, Research Cell, School of Interior Design, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad, 224 pages, 215 photographs and line drawings, glossary, bibliography.
This is the first of a series of volumes initiated by the School of Interior Design in Ahmedabad. Judging from example under review here, the staff and students of this institution are to be congratulated for the thoroughness of their investigation and the quality of the publication, which they themselves produced. 'Naqsh' is the term given to the patterns adopted by wood craftsmen in Gujarat for adorning houses, though here it also refers to the general craft of architectural woodwork, as manifested in columns, brackets, doors, windows, screens, wall panels and ceilings. It is, therefore, appropriate that the opening section of the book addresses the architectural form of the traditional Gujarat house. Here Jay Thakkar introduces the reader to the regional vocabulary of domestic architecture through a set of finely executed measured drawings showing the layout, sections and constructional details of a typical house.
In first part of the book Thakkar reviews the history of wood carving in Gujarat, by surveying the most important examples of havelis (mansions) and temples. The author observes that it was under the Mughals in the 17th and 18th centuries that woodcarving in Gujarat, reached the height of its development; indeed, the finest surviving examples date from this period. Then follows two chapters on craftsmen in ancient India, and trade guilds in Gujarat, though much of the discussion here is dependent on data collected in the Bombay Gazetter on 1901. Of greater interest, perhaps, is the second part of the book, which is based on original fieldwork, such as a survey of the particular tools used by craftsmen today. Here the author offers a useful table classifying the names, technical details, characteristic and applications of the eight principal implements (fig. 36.1). This is followed by an analysis of the different types of carving relief, undercutting, incising, 'sculpturesque', and pierced each of which is illustrated by photographic details.
In the second part of the book Thakkar focuses on wood ornamentation in Gujarati domestic architecture by considering the way in which designs are applied to building, especially at the tops of columns and on brackets and cornices, shutters and doors. The author then proceeds to a detailed analysis of the primary decorative motifs, such as those based on birds, guardian figures, celestial musicians, flowers and geometric designs. Then comes a description of the patterns that run continuously across beams and entablatures, especially those based on abstract floral motifs that employing a variety of sinuous and multi-stranded stems. The combination of photographs and explanatory diagrams that the author offers here is particularly helpful in understanding these somewhat complex designs. Next comes a discussion of geometric patterns. Once again provides photographs and analytical diagrams that help the reader unravel the mathematical complexity of these designs. Those that cover wooden ceilings are particularly intricate since they combine geometric lattice frames with floral motifs. The discussion here finishes with a review of the organising principles of symmetry by these designs are generated to cover different shaped surfaces. The author characterises these principles as translation, rotation, reflection and glide reflection, each of which is explained through diagrams.
In the next part of the book Thakkar turns his attention to the ornamental themes that appear on particular building elements, especially angled brackets carrying the overhangs of the upper storeys of houses, panels beneath windows, and frameworks of doors. Brackets are the vehicles of particularly ornate designs, many based on combinations of bodily parts of elephants, tigers and/or birds
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