The Nandi Mandapam is the primary thrust of our carving team in Bengaluru, and they are pouring their best skills into it. Today we received these photos of the ceiling stones, just completed in India.
The mandapam is almost a small temple in front of the larger Iraivan Temple, and it will be the most elaborately carved of Iraivan's stones. In part, this is due to its smaller size, just fifteen feet square, and in part to the new tools that have evolved in just the last few years.
These are the carbide-tipped chisels which not only last longer but because they are sharper and lighter, they give the silpis better control of the magical process of sculpting one of the world's hardest stones--granite. If you ever sit with the silpis during the carving process, you are first impressed with how tedious and slow the process is, requiring almost superhuman patience as the art slowly emerges from the raw rock.
Looking closer you see something surprising: they are not carving so much as pulverizing the steely stone molecule by molecule. Each blow of the mallet on the chisel removes a tiny bit of dust. Not rock so much as dust, which accumulates near the impact zone and is brushed away every few minutes.
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