A blend of high quality and functionality
Crafts people doing intricate carving on both decorative and utilitarian artefacts create their own designs, most of which are inspired by foliage and animal forms.
The use of the machine is restricted to cutting of huge wood logs and other processes which otherwise require heavy or repetitive manual labour without any artistry.
That the crafts person is a significant member of society is summed up beautifully in this image where the touch of a craftsman adds usefulness to a simple block of wood.
Workers discuss matters of work at a wood depot near Qaziwala village in Bijnor. The unit offers different types of wood to craftsmen.
Seasoned mango wood will be transformed into pieces of art in the hands of a skilled crafts person.
A display of tools commonly seen in a woodcrafter’s workshop.
Master craftsman Mohammed Matloob carving a wooden mirror frame for the Portugal Embassy, New Delhi.
A craftsman drawing a basic grid over which a symmetrical lattice design will be created.
The geometric grid in the background gives an artist the liberty to create different designs with much precision.
Over time, subtle changes have emerged in the process, with modern influences. For example, the pencil has been replaced by a ball pen with silver fluid, so that the pattern stands out.
Mohammed Azeem, one of the apprentices to Mohammed Matloob, makes holes in a piece of wooden board with a drill machine to start carving out the jaali lattice design.
An artist makes a jaali lattice design showing the elements of Mughal architecture, which he has chosen for his work.
A detailed shot of an intricate wood carving design and jaali pattern.
Detail of bone inlay work being done by master craftsman Mohammed Matloob.
A design is first created and traced on a wooden surface. Next, pieces of bone are cut according to the design and fixed in the engravings on the wooden surface.
Notice the very fine engravings on the wooden surface in which the cut bone pieces will be inlaid.
In the video you can see the master craftsman cutting a piece of bone into tiny pieces for inlay work.
Mohammed Matloob inlaying the cut bone pieces onto the surface of the wooden box, with precision.
The finished product; this bone inlaid box shows how Indian craftsmen rely on natural materials like wood and bone, which are all biodegradable.
Repeated filing is done with a sandpaper to add to the smoothness of the surface. Details of the design are carved out to provide depth, followed by two more rounds of filing.
In wire inlay, a design is first made on paper, which is stuck on a wooden block. An impression of that design is then carved on it.
Carving the wood through the artwork on the paper.
At times wire inlay is done on a thick wooden block so that it doesn’t break with the repeated strokes of hammer. Both sides are inlaid and then carefully sliced through the middle creating two pieces.
Wire inlay work in progress.
A craftsman applying fevicol at the two ends of a side of a wooden box.
Mohammed Irfaan makes wooden frame fittings for a partition screen. The firmness of the entire structure relies on the exactness of mounds and depressions, for all the pieces to fit together and stay intact.
Mohammed Rizan makes brass fittings and clasps to add to the beauty of a carved box by cutting brass sheets with a wire saw.
A young apprentice, Mohammed Tanjeer, files the bone inlay box with sandpaper to smoothen its surface.
Mohammed Rizwan gives finishing touches to the mini beer barrel made of rosewood and brass inlay. The processes of finishing are divided into buffing and polishing.
Polishing a wooden artifact; a miniature beer barrel.
Yog Raj’s workshop is witness to the fact that the craft industry in Nagina is no longer confined to the community of Multan, who are said to be the predecessors of this craft.
The contribution of women is also being recognised and appreciated. Now girls also learn this craft, along with their education, and help their families run their craft businesses efficiently.
Young girls like Sadiya and Swaleha, Mohammed Matloob’s daughters, enjoy working on wood craft together.
Text: Rashmi Sacher
Photography: Subinoy Das
Artisans: Mohammed Matloob and his team of apprentices, Yog Raj and his team of wood carvers
Ground Facilitator: Rashmi Sacher
Documentary Video: Subinoy Das
Curation: Ruchira Verma