The Story of Shri Malchand Ji

Sh. Malchand Ji Kalakar 

(National Award Winner- 1971 for Sandalwood Miniature Carved Rajasthani Doll)

M&R Handicrafts was started by shree malchand ji kalakar in year 1960, shree Malchand ji Jangid of Churu, Rajasthan, was a master sandalwood craftsman who won the national award in 1971 by Former President of India V.V. Giri and a special award the following year from the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Fifteen years later he died leaving behind a wealth of the most delicate and exquisite carvings for posterity. He also ensured that his traditional skill as a sandalwood carver was passed on to his children and grandchildren. Though sandalwood is no longer easily available, the skill has stayed alive in the Jangid family. Now this work has been going on from generations. the work function of sandal wood intricately carved to play in a manner standing tradition in this art today. 


The two carvings of Rajasthani women, decked in traditional attire and jewellery, are masterpieces in which the veils have the appearance of filigree. The taller of the two has 11 intricately carved scenes depicting the rich history of India. Dedicated to the legendary Maharana Pratap and other great rulers, the depictions include the battle of Haldighati, the sacrifices of Hadi Rani and Pannathai, the assassination of Mohammed Ghori by Prithviraj Chauhan, Rana Pratap’s battle with Bhamasa, Rani Padmini’s johar.

Some 22 of Malchand’s priceless sandalwood carvings have been brought to Delhi by Saurabh Singhvi, son of the late collector Prakash Chand Jain, who was an ardent fan of Malchand’s work. On display at the Arts of the Earth Gallery is the life-size sitar which won him the national award. Made in the late Sixties, its fine workmanship is to be seen to be believed. Valued today at Rs 15 lakh, the sitar, which took close to three years to make, is dedicated to 16th century musician Tansen. It has 10 panels, each of which opens to reveal different facets of the singer’s life. A smaller sitar, also dedicated to Tansen and made in the late Seventies, depicts three scenes from the maestro’s life. The central chamber shows Emperor Akbar’s court in which Tansen is singing and the nratiki (female dancer) is in full flow. Besides intricate jali work, the sitar has miniature carvings that are amazingly detailed.

The guldasta, or traditional Rajasthani flower vase, is another beautiful piece that took years to make. The 2-ft tall creation has 13 depictions of historical events — the court of Mughal king Jahangir, known for his dispensation of justice, Rani Laxmi Bai fighting the British, Gandhiji at Sabarmati Ashram and Jawaharlal Nehru at the Red Fort, among others. The tiny tricolour can be seen fluttering fearlessly.

The guldasta is perched on an intricately carved circular table made out of local Rajasthani wood.


The fragrant sandalwood grows predominantly in Karnataka and is used extensively in puja and other religious rituals. The paste has cooling properties. The wood is so valuable that it is usually sold in grams. It has an even texture because of its close grains and fewer knots. The heart of the wood is most used and it has a fragrance that lasts years. The yellow/brown sandalwood grows darker with age after it is cut.

Sandalwood carving dates back by many centuries, and a succession of ruling dynasties have conferred on it a royal status. Under such patronage, the craft flourished and entire families took to this trade. Although there were many craftsmen in Karnataka, Churu became the second centre for sandalwood carving. Today, the craft languishes in the absence of both craftsmanship and quality sandalwood due to the ban on its felling.

The Jangid family has been involved with the craft from the Mughal era. Although some family members have moved to other professions, a core group remains involved. In fact, the family boasts not less than seven national award winners.

The works on display have been collected over 40 years by two generations of collectors. They have been preserved with utmost care, but the current owner wishes to sell them because he is no longer confident of being able to care for them. These exquisite carvings of antique value would make for worthy additions to the National Museum.


(This article was published on November 7, 2013)