Wood craft, an ancient art form was originally patronised by the Buddhist monasteries, where ornate wood plaques, Buddhist symbols and icons continue to adorn the walls.  Wooden images of Lord Buddha, and wooden containers and utensils are extensively used in Sikkim. The local Sikkimese use a wooden pot for churning curd to make butter, where the churner is also made of wood.

Intricately carved, painted and polished Choktse or small foldable wooden tables aptly define the intricacies involved in this art form. Other exquisite carved products include Bakchok – square table, lucky signs, decorative plaques amongst others where the design style predominantly includes traditional Buddhist figures – dragons, birds and phoenix. Wooden masks, also an ancient craft is particularly famous in Sikkim for its depiction of diverse emotions from serene, calm, spiritual to aggression and intensity.

Wood is the main raw material and locally sourced forest wood of 3 types – namely tooni (toona celiata), rani chaap (macalia exelsa) and okner (walnut) are said to be in use in Gangtok, Sikkim for wood carving.

The design process starts with sketching on paper which acts as a stencil for the design to be transferred onto smoothed and cut wood. The design is traced as the charcoal seeps in through the holes created on the outlines. Once the wood is ready, several types of tools – knives, curved and straight chisels – locally known as Tikkyu and Ika respectively, hammer, saw, drilling machine etc., with varied thickness and nibs – from flat, angular to curved, are used to achieve the required intricacies in the final product. The craftsmen use straight and curved chisels to work free hand without using any references. Finishing includes smoothing, coating with a layer of primer before painting in varied colours – orange, golden, red, blue, pink, green, brown and ending with a coat of protected varnish.

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