Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Giant Statue of Jain Teerthankar

BHUBANESWAR: After seven years and countless strokes on chisel by dozens of sculptors, statue of a Jain Tirthankar, which is claimed to be the biggest ever granite monolithic sculpture carved from Orissa, would be ready by the end of this year.

Master sculptor Sudarshan Sahoo, under whose supervision the gigantic work was undertaken, said final touches were being given to the main idol measuring 13 feet high and 12 ft wide while the structure of umbrella-like serpent hoods over the deity would be completed within next few months.

“Simultaneously we will perform polishing work and revisit the process to ensure that all minor mistakes are rectified. We will fit the three pieces into a complete statue whose height will be 23 ft before dismantling it for easy transportation,” Mr. Sahoo, a Padamshree awardee, said.

A Jain monk had assigned Mr. Sahoo the task to erect the statue which would finally be transported to Surat in Gujarat.

The statue depicts the Tirthankar seated with legs crossed in front, the toes of one foot resting close upon the knee of the other, and the right hand lying over the left in the lap.

The symbols of lotus flower have been carved on palms. The idol will have seven serpent hoods unfurling as umbrella.

Although on the face of it the work looked like any other creation of a sculptor, Mr. Sahoo said there was history behind creating such a mammoth idol.

At first it was a challenging task to discover a huge piece of granite stone from Mayurbhanj district. “My son and several of my students spent months in Adipur and Sialiuthani village near Khiching temple to lay hand on the huge piece of stone which weighed above 400 tonnes,” he said.

Villagers were compensated for their crop damage and special permission was secured from National Highway authority to transport the giant stone to the craft shed here, Mr. Sahoo said.
“Since I did not have expertise in creating Jain idols, I had to go through numerous Jain literatures and study the iconography. It was not enough. Not to take chances, we initially built hundreds of small Jain sculpture to see where we were going wrong,” the master craftsman recounted.

Precautions were taken during knocking off large portions of unwanted stone and striking chisels accurately. Any miscalculation could have injured sculptors’ hand and most importantly damaging the stone.

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