The Svelte art of Sandalwood carving

From a land which lies on the most beautifully landscaped Malabar coast, a land that has seen distinct eras right from Dutch and Portuguese to Mughals and now Malyalalis, a very heart-filled Namaskaram from the state of Kerala. This region has numerous handcrafted arts in its kitty, right from Kanchipuram sarees, to cone and coir furniture articles, stone carvings and sandalwood works.

Indian Sandalwood is one of the most sacred herbs of Ayurveda. Known scientifically as Santanlum album and in Sanskrit as Chandana. Sandalwood powder and essential oil are renowned for their many medicinal and spiritual uses.  But the wood itself can be used in creating wonders in much different ways. Here’s presenting one to you.


We bring to you the most beautiful handicraft of Kerala which is equally famous amongst all others, the Sandalwood carvings. The aromatic wood is fine-grained with a yellowish tinge and heavier than many other woods. The artists need to put in extra efforts and skills when it comes to carving this wood because it is harder than many other species. This commands a lot of care to make a clear carving cut and a beautiful finished piece.

The most astonishing work by these artisans is the carved elephant that they make out of the sandalwood. The elephant is adorned with a beautiful criss-cross cape which is how the royal carriage in the golden era of kings used to look. The detailing is done with hours of concentration and effort which commands huge respect for these artisans. After the carving, it is varnished to give it a fine, glossy look.


(Courtesy: Kerala tourism)

Other than these elephants which are the kind of show piece you would regret to give up on not buying, useful boxes of jewellery are also made. Boxes, holders and other forms are quite common and quite in demand. Well, the usefulness and the beauty of such boxes definitely make it the one we call it as ‘run-for-money’, and absolutely worth every penny.

(Courtesy: Pinterest)

(Courtesy: Pinterest)

Apart from this, small statues of Hindu gods and goddesses are also done by carving of sandalwood by these artisans. Some of these act as show pieces while some are miniature versions with a hole aided to pass a thread through it to use it as a neck piece. Sandalwood is a considered very auspicious in Indian culture and such statues of the almighty definitely make for a good ‘well wishes’ gift for your loved ones.

(Courtesy: Sheetal handicrafts)

(Courtesy: Sheetal handicrafts)

(Courtesy: Sheetal handicrafts)

To get  a showpiece for your house that not only looks good but also smells good connect with us on jma@loveknits.org.