The Jangid Artisan Family of Rajasthan: Mahesh Jangid, Mohit Jangid & Rohit Jangid
The Jangid family lives in the city of Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan, India and creates world-class sandalwood miniature carving. They have immense expertise and artistic sense gathered by generations of artists in the family. With the help of simplest tools, these artisans faithfully adhere to the traditional style while at the same time they try to experiment with new things. Their highly intricate designs are created by using a combination of carving methods, such as deep carving, shallow carving, latticework and fretwork on a nearly impossible miniature scale.
Mahesh and his sons draw inspiration for their miniaturised wooden carvings from history, mythology and day-to-day life in India. Their work is accomplished with the most basic and often handmade tools applied with the meticulous care of a filigree artist. The most typical woods used for ornamental and inlay work in India are walnut (Juglans regia), rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia), ebony (Diospyros spp.), teak (Tectonia grandis), sal (Shorea robusta) and sandalwood (Santalum album). The Jangid family works almost exclusively in sandalwood, due to its malleable characteristics and delicate natural fragrance. Mahesh explains: “Sandalwood is the most conducive medium for our particular craft because it is softer than most types of wood and easier for us to work with.”
Mahesh Jangid (National Award winner 1993)
Born in Churu District, Rajasthan, Mahesh learned the art of woodcarving at the age of seven, under the guidance and care of his grandfather, Shri Mal Chand Ji, a renowned artist and a National Award winner. After a basic education, Mahesh gave up studies to devote his life to sandalwood (Santalum album) carving and by the time he was 24, Mahesh had earned his own national carving award for his extraordinary miniature work. In 1993, he won the National Award for his sandalwood carved hand fan and his extraordinary achievements. Mahesh has shared his passion and techniques with his two sons, who have also gone won few awards and recognitions for their carvings. Mahesh has broken a number of records with his work, when he carved his fine, delicate smallest jointless chain from a solid piece of sandalwood. The chain is 315mm in length and weighs just 160g. He has also since carved one more jointless chain from another solid piece of sandalwood, this time with the chain measuring 10ft long with 496 links and weighing just 12g, which is the longest wooden jointless chain. Mahesh has two records in the Limca Book of Records for making these jointless chains and also has a record in the Indian Book of Records and one record in the Global World Record for the same pieces. To promote his work, Mahesh participates in national art and crafts exhibitions and fairs, such as Delhi Haat, Suraj Kund Mela, Master Creations Delhi, etc., but he also participates in international art exhibitions and fairs in France, Germany, Egypt, Malaysia, Poland, Switzerland and more. Mahesh looks to his sons for continuing the family tradition.
Mohit Jangid Artist (State Award Winner 2007)
Mohit was initiated into the craft at a very young age and after graduation he dedicated his life to woodcarving. He feels strongly that the Jangid family has a woodcarving talent and knows that he would rather spend his life learning and developing the skills rather than taking a job. Mohit tells us he is ‘addicted’ to his work, so feels he and his brother can do much better in life with woodcarving, than in a job with ‘limits’: a ’limited salary’, ‘limited time’ and ‘limited work’. Woodcarving, on the other hand, is limitless – it’s up to the two brothers to find new things to carve, new designs and more miniature work. Mohit tells us: “I do prefer miniature because I’ve seen this type of carving from my childhood and miniature work is the most important thing in our work, because it makes our items more attractive.” His knowledge of epics and religious texts has helped him bring a rare blend of beauty and craftsmanship to his creations. Like his father, Mohit has won many awards. He received the State Award 2008–09 by Rajasthan C.M. Shri Ashok Gahlot for Excellence in Sandalwood Carving. He also holds a world record for the ‘smallest playable violin’ and two national records for his smallest violin. This remarkable piece is just 130mm tall and 19mm tall. The item is exactly to scale and performs the same function as the everyday, original violin, usually with four strings.
Rohit Jangid (State Award Winner 2016)
Rohit learnt the traditional art of miniature carving from his father. Unlike his brother, Rohit is still studying. Although near graduation, he cannot dedicate to carving full-time just yet. He does, however, have a record in the Indian Book of Records for making a wooden house-fly and some national and local records for the same piece. In order to get his work exhibited, he participates in national and some local art and craft exhibitions. “Miniature carving involves engraving the wood on the contours of the design with the utmost care. We make many of our own small tools according to our needs: small iron sticks, knives, chisels and some tools for filing,” he tells us. Looking to the future, he continues: “We work at home, so I will definitely teach this work to my future children and then, if they want to go with any other profession, I will support them.”