Carved Wood Accents
True to the art form’s religious roots, this carved door that is now a New Yorker’s headboard guarded the entrance to a Thai temple in its previous life. When using an element as rich and storied as this rare piece of folk art, keep the rest of the decor minimal but in an earthy, homespun way. Let this photo be your inspiration.
Sometimes in decorating, a compromise must be made between authenticity and budget. A true hand-carved piece is distinguishable from a mass produced item found at World Market, but not to the average eye. If it’s just the look you’re hoping to imitate, die-cut medallions and panels in an unexotic wood from your favorite boho-chic will suffice; otherwise, treat these carvings like art and spend some time hunting around for the one that tugs at your heart.
Americans are quick to bestow an assortment of enchanted adjectives to carved furniture: Ancient, bohemian, tropical and exotic are usually among the first to come to mind. This bedroom in India, with a carved rosewood bed and ottoman, is all of those things. Rosewood, along with sandalwood, is a popular carving material native to India. It is prized for its musky aroma, a quality that also lends itself to creating sensuous sleeping quarters.
An antique, hand carved teak beam marks the transition between kitchen and family room addition. It’s covetable for its looks and delicate craftsmanship alone, but art collectors might also prize it as the beam of a joglo-style house, a traditional form of Javanese architecture designed for artisocrats. Joglo roofs were generally the steepest and the most complicated to design and built with an intricate system of columnar support under the roof.
Flat wooden surfaces make a great canvas for carvers. Entire wall panels, both interior and exterior, of temples were often carved in relief with religious images, intricate mandala patterns, or beautiful fretwork, depending on the culture. Today, those panels are being repurposed and reproduced as doors, headboards, and decorative art by collectors and designers.
We drift away from Indonesia momentarily to admire the Norwegian handiwork in this mountain home in the Sierra range. Browsing the photos of this magnificent project by Pearson Design Group and Williams Construction is a visual feast of divine details including a dozen antique Scandinavian wood carvings from exotic and reclaimed materials supplier Betrams.This particular photo shows off both the Karveskurd chip carving style and the Viking Dragon style which Bertrams claims was “inspired by the Stavkirke (stave churches) at Urnes in Norway.”
The same project also boasts a Russian wood carving on the roof. Bertrams explains the historical significance of the piece:“As far back as the 14th century, massive roofs of houses in [northwest] Russia were topped with an entire larch log, its roots hanging over the gable of the house. From the root ball Russian carpenters used an axe to carve sculptures, often in the shape of a hen or a horse. These were called “okhlupen” and had the function of protecting inhabitants of the house from illnesses, thieves, fires and evil forces. There was a saying in the north of Russia, “Kuritsa na krishe, v dome tishe.” “With a hen on the roof, it’s quiet at home.”
Hawaiian wood carving has a distinct Polynesian influence owing to its relative geographical proximity and settlement history. The Hawaiian carving style is characterized by elongated forms intended to represent its panoply of mythical tiki Gods. A trio of three evocative sculptures welcome guests to this peaceful Hawaiian retrwat.
Flowers have always been a favored subject matter by artists of all media. The Burmese kanote-pan style of carving is one folk art tradition well-known for taking flowers as its exclusive subject matter. The lily winding its way up the beam is so sleek and shiny, the untrained eye would assume it’s made of metal, but look closer and you’ll see that it’s actually hand-whittled teak.