Materials and Technologies

Carving in Stone and Wood

Stone and wood are used to create three-dimensional images in Himalayan cultural regions, though stone is used less frequently than other materials. Artisans typically carve these media to create images raised from the surface in relief or fully three-dimensional sculptures in the round, which are usually then painted.

Large stone reliefs are often carved into rockfaces, while smaller portable sculptures can be fashioned from various kinds of stone, from hard ones like schist to softer kinds such as phyllite.

Across Himalayan areas people create a unique form of stone carving known as mani stones by chiseling mantras in relief on flat rocks or slate. These stones are stacked into large cairns or long walls that run along the paths to pilgrimage sites or over high passes.

Wood panels are carved or painted to produce book covers. For larger size covers, two panels are often assembled and decorated in gold or carved and painted. Wooden blocks are also carved to create woodcuts that are inked and used for printing text or images.

Objects in the Exhibition