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The Divine Wood: Woodcarvings in Western Himalayas - Temples, Monasteries and Sculptures

O C Handa (Author)

The Western Himalayan region conjures up a vision of vast snow-covered mountainscape with the evergreen and lofty deodar forests. Besides, it has been a home to innumerable ancient and magnificent wooden temples, Buddhist monasteries and traditional wooden houses. All these edifices are richly adorned with the classical and immaculate woodcarvings by the hereditary woodcarvers. These artistic woodcarvings have been studied in detail for their aesthetic, stylistic and thematic qualities. Besides, an in-depth and detailed study about the artisans who built and embellished these beautiful edifices, but remained unknown so far, has been done for the first time.

For all these edifices, the artisans used only deodar wood for the inherent structural qualities of this timber. This precious timber has been eulogised variously in the Indian classical texts, highlighting its various qualities. Thus, it is the devadaru, i.e. the ’divine wood’, the amaradaru or amarakashttha, i.e. the ’immortal wood’. The therapeutic merits of this wood may also be known from its various characterising names like daru, surahva, suradrum, suradaru, daruk, surapadap, devahv, devadrum, devakahttha, devahvay and mahadaru, etc. in the classical texts. This underlines the importance of deodar as sacred wood in the Indian classical tradition and the folklore of this region. All these aspects have been studied in detail in this book.

Some of the finest examples of longevity of this timber are the more than 1300 years old Lakshana Devi Temple at Brahmaur and the Shakti Devi Temple at Chitrari, both in the interiors of the Ravi Valley of Chamba (Himachal Pradesh), the Markula Devi Temple in the Chandrabhaga Valley and an ancient Dakshineshvar Mahadev Temple in the Kurpan Valley at Nirmand. These are only a few of the richly carved wooden temples, but several more such temples exist in the interiors of this region. Many of these have been studied in detail in this work.

This is a pioneering work on the ancient wood-based art and architecture of the Weste

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About the author

O C Handa

Born in Mandi (Himachal Pradesh) on 2nd October 1936, Dr. O.C. Handa is an outstanding scholar, connoisseur of art and a persistent adventurer. In his exploratory pursuits, he has successively undertaken several expeditions to the far-flung pockets in the Western Himalayan region upto the border of Tibet, mostly on foot. This underscores his interest and zeal in exploring antique but extant sources of history, art and culture of this region. Dr. Handa did his post-graduation in History from University of Mysore, Ph.D. from Meerut University and D.Litt. from Agra University – his speciality being the Buddhist Archaeology of the Western Himalayan region. Besides articles, research papers and radio and T.V. performances, he has numerous books on art, history and culture of the Western Himalayan region to his credit. Dr. Handa was a fellow of Himachal Academy of Art, Languages & Culture, Shimla during 1984-1986; of Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi during 1991-1993; and of Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla during 1996-1998.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Divine Wood: Woodcarvings in Western Himalayas - Temples, Monasteries and Sculptures
Author O C Handa
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.04.2021
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788173056529
length xx+156, 22cm x 28cm.