It has been said that man is made in the image of God, our Creator and Master craftsman or should I say, the Master crafts-God”. Meaning, we take after our maker in our need to create. Woodcraft is one of the most fascinating products of man. Pyrography, another term for woodcraft, has an amazing history too.
Here’s an excerpt from Patrick Faleur:
Pyrography is derived from the Greek words pur (meaning fire) and graphos (meaning writing). People have probably “written with fire” since fire was discovered. Cavemen may well have used charred sticks to draw on the walls of their caves! However no examples survive for us to see. In early times pyrography, as today, was principally used for the decoration of artifacts, examples of which are likely to have been lost, principally as it was classified as a folk art rather than paintings and sculptures. Dried gourds used as domestic vessels are one of the most widespread artefacts that are decorated with pyrographic techniques and this spreads the net of possible areas where it would have been common practice to all tropical and sub-tropical and many temperate parts of the world.
Likewise, of the pyrography styles, the Japanese Kumiko Zaiku and the Indian Kholi, you would discover, are the most fascinating and most intriguing…the two most intricate, virtue-inspiring woodwork.
Our focus this week will be these two astonishing crafts.
First, let’s take a look at the Kholi… which was a symbol of the upper class as well as an expression of faith and religion in India. The designs come in different shapes and forms such as the sun and animals that drive away evil spirits and bring good luck. This is best explained by Pragya.
Kholi is a visual marvel with intricate designs of flowers like brahmkamal, birds like Munal and Gukti and animals like elephants and lions. Kholi also announced the belief systems of the house owners, like suryavanshis (Rana, Chauhan and Bhandari) will have sun’s image carved into the Kholi while nagvanshis (descendents of Gangu Ramola) have images of snakes in the same. The Uttarkashi people have quite interesting beliefs attached to Kholi, for example, the horns of animals are attached in the Kholi to drive away the evil spirits; birds were carved in Kholi mainly because in the early days it was believed that birds are sacred and brings good luck to the family. They deliberately made small holes in the Kholi design in a tasteful way so as to allow honey bees to get inside the Kholi, as it is believed that bees bring luck and blessings and make the house safe and pure.
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Due to its very intricate and elaborate designs and because it was viewed as a gravely religious activity it took years to complete a Kholi structure. You would say it would only be possible for a god to make such creations and so it must be because though the craftsman belonged to an inferior class in society he is looked upon as deity during the construction.
The second kind of woodcraft is extremely intricate wooden filigree the Japanese call Kumiko Zaiku. Although there is nothing religious about its designs, it requires a huge amount of character and discipline to complete a panel. In fact, it takes more than a thousand pieces and 99.9% accuracy to complete a pattern. Here is an excerpt from TozaiDesign by Thomas.
Accuracy is needed to insure an attractive panel. Smaller panels or patterns made with a larger interval (interval meaning the space between frame members) allow for some deviance. Larger panels with a small interval will
May it be the Great Pyramids, The Great Wall, Christ the Redeemer, or the Colosseum, Rome, there is no limit but to remember where our gift comes from.