Largest Buddha stone panel in the making - Veteran sculptor Sudharshan Sahoo is working on the structure that will weigh 70 tonne

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By BIBHUTI BARIK
  • Published 30.01.12
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Bhubaneswar, Jan. 29: Two years after making the largest monolithic statue of Digambar Jain weighing 215 tonne, local sculptor Sudharshan Sahoo has started working on another dream project — a carved panel depicting the life of Gautam Buddha.

The sandstone panel, to be carved out of 30 stones and decorated with borders of granite, will weigh more than 70 tonne.

This stone panel will be the first of its kind narrating Buddha’s story based on the Jataka tales. The main portion of the panel will be created out of sandstone while large blocks of granite will also be used, said Sahoo.

“The sandstone used in this work is of the rare spotted variety available only in Odisha. The central portion of the sandstone panel will be outlined with black granite to provide a distinct frame-like appearance,” said the sculptor.

Sahoo’s Sudarshan Art and Crafts Village (SACV) had created the largest monolith structure of Digambar Jain in chlorite stone (locally known as muguni pathara) and it was installed on a hill at Pushpagiri on the Indore-Bhopal Highway in Madhya Pradesh in 2010. This panel on Buddha will travel to Panvel in Mumbai where the work will be used for a proposed heritage garden.

Work on the stones has already begun at SACV. “We have already carved an image showing how Buddha’s mother Queen Maya sees an elephant in her dream. According to legend, if an expecting mother sees an elephant in her dream, her child would grow up to be a great soul. The other stages in Buddha’s life will be carved on the remaining 29 stones,” said a sculptor at SACV.

Speaking about the project, Sahoo said: “The panel will be more than 101ft in length and six feet in height. The work has just started. But this is only the first phase of designing and some minor changes might be made following suggestions of the Japanese Buddhist community, which is associated with the Mumbai project. They want the carving to be done following the Kushinagar style of architecture. The final design may take nearly six months after which the detailed carvings will be done.”

Kushinagar is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in Uttar Pradesh where Buddha attained “parinirvan” after his death. In the Jataka tales, the place has been referred to as Kushavati.

“I had carved Buddhist panels about 40 years ago when the peace pagoda near Dhauli was commissioned in 1970 as an Indo-Japanese collaborative venture. The structure was completed in 1972. At that time, I was part of the team of sculptors from the city that worked on the monument,” Sahoo said.

“After the experience I gained from Dhauli, I constructed panels based on Buddha’s life history in Boston, London and Akami, Honoka and Kanamoto in Japan. But this work will be the biggest to be created by me or any sculptor on stone. It will take more than three years for me to complete the work,” he added.