Alvida America

by Nagaraj Shenoy

We first met Nagaraj Shenoy in the January 2000 issue of Woodcarver Online Magazine. Dr. Shenoy is a relatively new carver, having started the summer of 1999. He notes, "Carvings of Ivan Whillock were my greatest inspiration and I should thank him for that."

Dr. Shenoy is a computer scientist by profession, recently completing a two year stint as a research associate professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

-M. Kelley, Editor


Alvida in Hindi (the Indian National Language) means Good-bye. After spending 2 years in America, I just returned to my country carrying sweet memories. Among the many new things I learnt in the US, the one I enjoyed the most is wood carving. This exciting hobby made my last one year in US very interesting. I picked up this art on my own, browsing the web sites of many a great American Net Gurus in the field. My sincere thanks to all of them.

My last carving in US was that of Buddha which I titled as MahaBhikshu or Great Bhikshu. A Bhikshu is a monk who has renounced all worldly possessions and dedicated his life in the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. As per the ancient Indian tradition, the only possessions a bhikshu is allowed to retain are a piece of long cloth to wrap his body and a begging bowl!. He is supposed to wander from place to place seeking the truth or spreading the wisdom he has attained. To support his body he can accept food offered to him once a day.

The carving shown in the picture is based on a 2000 year old cave painting in western India. The original painting depicted a scene from the life of Buddha in which Buddha accepts food from his wife and son outside his palace after embracing the monk hood. Buddha is drawn much taller than the rest of the people around him (and even the palace building!) to emphasize his greatness, while the begging bowl with the serene and downward looking face shows his humility. The original was badly damaged due to aging. I was planning to recreate the scene in 3D using different pieces (of possibly different woods)  but I could not complete it before I returned.

I used a block of Butternut wood I bought from a nice gentleman (of Shady Tree Farms) in Minnesota. It had a light pink color with dark brown bands throughout. I was a bit worried about the prominent banding which could look ugly on a human figure of relatively smaller size. Fortunately, the Mahogany stain I used for the finish softened the bands and with the wax coating, it added to the beauty of the figure.

During my short stay in US, I tried a variety of American woods. After returning to India, I have started exploring  locally available woods such as Teak and Jack fruit. But I miss the great American woods  such as Butternut, Walnut and Honduras Mahogany and those which I never got to carve - basswood, cherry and Cedar.