Stories etched in stone

Woraiyur’s stone carvers have been adding their artistic touch to public institutions, shrines and homes down the years

For several decades, the ‘clink-clink-clink’ of hammer and chisel hitting stone punctuated the air in Mettu Theru of Woraiyur, as artisans from the 15-20 family-run companies etched out commemorative plaques, cemetery relics and sculpted religious idols through the day.

“The earlier name of Kallukaarar Mettu Theru (Stone Carvers’ Street) has gone because most of the stone carvers have left,” says N Madhuranayagam, a scion of the distinguished Kalvarayan clan that has literally etched its name in the profession over generations.

With its history as a capital of the early Chola and Muthuraja dynasties, Woraiyur is well-known for its fine handloom cotton and hand-rolled Trichinopoly cigars said to have been favoured by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

But its stone carvers — whose inscriptions, idols, sculpture and kitchen implements have furnished many of the stately Chettinad homes and temples in the region —have been sidelined by the growing automation of their industry. Only those who have adapted to the changing times have managed to survive......Read more

Source web page: The hindu

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