Wood Carving of Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry

The famed temple chariots of Tamil Nadu are made of wood and are full of detailed and skillful carvings. The 19th century old Padmanabhapuram palace in Kanyakumari district is a striking example of an exquisite wooden palace displaying intricacies of wood carving through its elegantly carved roof gables, lathe-turned columns, carved window grills and decorated wooden ceilings.

Even today the front door of each household, which is considered a sacred threshold, has intricate wood carvings of Hindu deities and auspicious motifs like the hamsa/ mythical swan, padma/ lotus, poornakumbha /cornucopia, kaamadhenu and patterned floral motifs.

on them. Other carved wooden items include small shrines and deities, low carved stools for marriages, carved fans for the deity, fertility couples and various small ceremonial containers. The carved panels of deities fixed to either end of a metre-long pole were the other ceremonial items. These panels are called kavadi and afre carried on the shoulders of a person to fulfill the vow to Lord Murugan or Karthikeya. Household kitchen instruments in wood such as grinders, vegetable cutters and serving ladle holders are items given in dowry.

Lathe-turned and lacquered toys in bright colors and at affordable prices are popular all over the state. Carved wooden toys, dolls and elephants exhibiting the skills of the artisan are also made.