Ahalya and myself were keen to meet them and learn about their work. We wandered around the town one morning and walked into an old house. We were warmly welcomed by a young man, who showed us around. We got a glimpse of the wax-casting process that is said to have been used during the Chola times.This unique process begins by measuring and marking the desired figure with the help of a frond of the palm tree. Thereafter a wax model of the bronze figure is made and carefully crafted to perfection, which is then covered with three layers of clay of a specific quality found in the Kaveri basin. The mould is heated, causing the wax to melt, which creates a hollow within. Molten metal comprising an alloy of copper, silver, gold, tin and lead is then poured into the hollow to take the place of the melted wax. The clay is then removed and the figurine is carefully chiseled into its final shape.
In the course of our discussion I mentioned that there seemed to be some degree of similarity between the iconic sculpture of the dancing girl from the Indus Valley and the Chola sculptures. Surprised by my obsession, the young sthapati said that he was doing a Phd, precisely on this topic from the Thanjavur University. He added that he had had a dream the previous night about the dancing girl and the Chola sculptures and wrote a poem about it after waking up. He took a piece of paper from his pocket and started reciting the poem in Tamil in his lovely voice. It was such a moving experience, seemingly coincidental, yet profoundly meaningful. I was reminded of Jung’s observation that such occurrences are not mere coincidences due to chance but are directly related to the observer's mind, which he termed as synchronicity. It was a reminder that life is full of mysterious, inexplicable, beautiful moments.
It was my long cherished desire to have a bronze sculpture of Somaskanda, where Shiva is depicted sitting with his consort Uma and his son Skanda dancing between them. When I expressed my desire he searched for one among the several exquisite pieces that were there in the room and handed it over, made with the lost wax method. It remains one of our prized possessions.
As we were leaving the young sthapati quietly slipped a small bronze figurine of Appar, a Tamil saint and said, “do come again”.
Some memories are timeless treasures tha linger on…
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