Stone Icon Carving of Kerala


Stone Icon Carving of Kerala

Craft Revival Trust

Stone carving has a very ancient history in Kerala. Sculptures belonging to the historic period date back to the ancient times. The community that makes the images is known as Kallasari -one of the five Kamalas. The Padmanabhaswami Temple in Trivandrum is a storehouse of fine sculpture. Kerala is rich in granite and laterite rocks, though granite is largely used in image-making for which Changanur is an important centre. The special variety of stone used for image-making is known as Krishna-shila which is available at Omalur in Pathanamthitta district and Trithala near Pattambi. The tools used include hammer and chisels. The polishing is done with sealing wax and steel powder which are melted and moistened. Laterite, the red muddy stone that is abundantly available throughout Kerala, was widely used to build both domestic structures and temples such as the Mahadeva temple at Kazhakuttam and the Vaddakkunathan Temple at Thrissur. Although soft when quarried, the materials rapidly hardens on coming into contact with the elements, forming into a highly durable and strong construction materials. Further, the stone is somewhat porous, allowing the rock to ‘breathe’ in the humid tropical heat. Other products made include fence walls, tombstones, oil lamps of a wide variety, stone grinders, etc. Production takes place in Kurukanpara in Thrissur district; Ottapalam in Palakkad district; Patuvur in Ernakulam district; Chengannur in Alappuzha district; and in Thiruvananthapuram.


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