We went out to Iraivan today to see the progress on the first course of the Nandi Mandapam. The silpis have almost all the stones finished off and fitted except for two more on the west side.
Two of the silpis are just starting work on the base stone of the Kodimaram that will be set down in the hole in the center of the Mandapam. It is quite rough and will need a lot of work to bring into shape. Here they are marking a center square.
Inside these lines the stone will be taken down 4 inches.
The sides have also been marked.
They have very carefully worked out the center based on the four corners of the stone which has yet be finished on all four sides.
The archway for the front of the Aadheenam awaits its time of installation.
Three of the other silpis are working on an ornamental detail on the base of the hand railings that go all around the temple.
A delicate line is being placed all along the edge.
Back at the base stone of the kodimaram our silpi is not using any delicate strokes to take out the stone in the square that was marked. Now is the time for serious strong blows and chips are flying!
When fitting stones, first, the silpis cleave away any extra stone, but then they must smooth the surface in order to get a tight fit with the adjacent stone. This is a long process using a special smoothing chisel.
The cutting surface of the smoothing chisel is a flat surface indented with a hatched points. As the chisel is used the points wear away and the another one will take it’s place. This one is almost finished. One sharpened chisel may only last 5 or 10 minutes before becoming too dull to be effective. So in a given day, the silpis will use dozens of chisels that go back to the patrai, forge, for sharpening.