News Karnataka
Thursday, December 07 2023

Sandalwood: Aromatic tree of genus Santalum

Photo Credit : Wikimedia

Karnataka occupies a leading position in the field of wood carving. The State which has vast densely populated forest reserves provides ample raw material for its artisans, who are using age-old techniques for carving, coating, painting and lacquer articles in wood.

The botanical name is Santalum Album more commonly known as Indian Sandalwood. The wood and roots of this tree are the most expensive of all trees due to their medicinal and fragrance properties.

Mysuru is a land of artists and people are known for their skills. Historically the rulers of Mysuru had a strong passion for the visual arts which included architecture and painting. The wood of mature Sandalwood trees is used in handicrafts, to make incense sticks and to extract Sandalwood paste and powder for cosmetic purposes. Sandalwood is a natural body coolant. From the roots is extracted the precious Sandalwood Oil, which is used in Ayurveda, the Soap industry, Aroma Therapy and the production of perfumes.

Mysuru region is rich in natural resources like sandalwood, silk, Mysuru jasmine and excellent quality jasmine flowers are known as Mysuru cuisine. Mysuru Sandalwood is famous all over the world. Quality and fragrance, Mysuru silk is known for its exceptional quality and lustrous performance and is an integral part of the Mysuru culture.

Ancient temple wooden architecture is an important example of wood carving, where wood is extensively used and finely carved into delicate sculptures. The roofs and gateways of royal houses and temples display intricately carved images of hundreds of gods and goddesses. Rosewood articles are one of the shopper’s delights and tourists take home with them articles or sculptures carved from rosewood, the most famous being the beautifully carved rosewood elephant. The palace of the Maharajas of Mysore and the tomb of Tipu Sultan in Srirangapatna are the foremost examples of craftsmanship, where visitors are amazed by the astonishing delicacy of the work.

Mysore enchants the soft fragrance of this wood, which is widely used to produce beautiful works of art. A wide range of sandalwood products is carved by highly skilled workers, with families of Gudigars from Shivamogga, Uttara Kannada and Mysuru districts specialising in this craft. Images of Krishna are very popular among devotees along with articles such as lampshades, trays, jewellery boxes, decorative articles, combs and walking sticks with rosewood handles.

A Sandalwood piece is present in all Hindu households. This piece is rubbed on a stone known as sane Kallu with water to extract the Sandalwood Paste. This is applied to the idols of gods and goddesses after the abhisheka washing of gods. In Kerala and the Coastal region of Karnataka, a small piece of Sandalwood paste is distributed to all the devotees. Prayer beads/rosaries are also made using Sandalwood.

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Ashwini Badiger

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