Stone Icon Carving of Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry

Swamimalai, Ramanathapuram, Trunelveli, Tiruchirapalli, Thanjavur and Kanyakumari districts have highly skilled artists making stone icons. Stone icons are also made in Gopichettipalayam and Satyamangalam in Salem district and Tiruvannamalai. Miniature carvings of humans, birds , and reptiles are done at Madayur village.

The artists are known as Sthapathis. They use traditional methods of stone carving as approved in the Shilpa Shastra. They are polished by hand to give the figures a good glaze and glare. Rubbing with wax is also done to give the figures a lustrous appearance.

One of the specialties of stone carving at Tamil Nadu is the illustration of animal and bird life. This is especially seen in the carvings at Mahabalipuram. One common animal is the Yali, a combination of an elephant and a lion widely found in South Indian cosmology.