vanishing breed


The finely carved wooden mandap is bound for the Gulf, and its sibling piece standing in another corner of Murugesan’s carpentry in Mahabalipuram, is destined for USA. If you look closely you will be wowed by the wonderful detailing in the mandap. There are other pieces strewn around, wall panels with a horse, a chariot for a temple among others.There is even a wooden conference table bound for a BPO head honcho.
In case you have not been to Murugesan’s, just drive into Mahabs and ask for `carver’ Murugesan, and anyone will direct you to the huge house in the sprawling compund opposite S.. Kalyana Mandapam. Murugesan moved from Karaikudi ,with a love for wood, to Mahabs some 25 odd years ago, and along the way picked up a diploma in the government run college there. And for years now, people have been trooping to his house based on hearsay and word of mouth. After all his work is spread all over the world. He makes the ceiling-hugging almirahs from solid wood, but ensures that most parts are detachable. His well thumbed passport will tell you that he personally flies down to the destinations and reassembles the unit to his artistic satisfaction. For years he has been delivering on time–well almost– but of late deadlines are harder to keep.
“Good help is harder to find,” says his wife. Many of the young carpenters prefer the steady work that the booming construction industry offers, she feels.They are like the waves, they come and go, she adds.
Will Murugesan’s son carry on the tradition, I wonder. But I am not really surprised when she tells me that he wants to become a software engineer while the daughter is planning on becoming a doctor.
I guess there are many Murugesans in our city…. vansihing breed somehow seems an inadequate phrase to sum it up.

3 Comments so far

  1. Nancy (unregistered) on November 25th, 2007 @ 7:36 pm

    Nice piece — I’d like to see more like this (and hope I get a chance to visit him, next time we get down to Mahabs).

  2. Ela (unregistered) on November 25th, 2007 @ 7:58 pm

    Vanishing pride or vanishing talents……or vanishing culture…….of course none can exactly bring the sad or exact truth of this situation…..In part the present society’s mentality has to be blamed for lack of pride that these artists are experiencing. And of course no one has the right to stop or define other’s dream….

  3. Sanjeeva (unregistered) on November 27th, 2007 @ 1:25 pm

    Chinnasalem, near kallakurichi on the chennai salem highway also has some fantastic carvers who make these stunning ganesha’s playing various musical instruments. Wonder if they are still there???

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