AMAZING INDIAN SCULPTURES COLLECTION
Cire Perdue or Lost Wax Technique of Making of Chola Sculptures:
South Indian temple bronzes during the Chola period were created through the cire perdue or lost wax technique that remains the standard method to this day. Images are folded from a 'prepared wax' consisting of hard beeswax mixed with a small proportion of dammar, the resin of the seal three. Sculptors heat the wax, deftly old it into a torso, hand, leg, or flower, and lower it into a basin of cold water, where it instantly hardens. When pieces are to be joined, they are returned to a malleable state through brief reheating on the flame that stands ready beside the artists. Details down to the individual beads of a necklace or the patterned fabric of a garment, are worked with a sharp wooden chisel shaped from the core of a tamarind tree, though occasionally a steel chisel is used. Simple tubular struts connect the hands of images to the body, providing a certain degree of stability to the wax model; these will be used later as channels during the final molten metal process. Once the wax image is complete in every detail, it is encased within several layers of clay, of which the first layer, of a fine, smooth texture, is of utmost importance; if the clay is correctly applied, the image that finally emerges will require little or no retouching. The heavily clay-encased image is then baked, and the wax melts and runs out through sprues provided for this purpose, resulting in a hollow clay mold.
Specialized metal-workers now take over, heating copper with a small proportion of lead and tin (in ancient times, small amounts of gold and silver too). This is carefully and deftly poured into the clay mold to fill every millimeter, ensuring that the molten metal flows from the torso to the arms and legs and back again. Large castings take into account the cooling process of metal: its expansion, contraction, and the like. Once the metal has completely cooled, the clay mold is broken open to reveal the bronze image; since the mold cannot be reused, every bronze is unique. (Vidya Dehejia, The Sensuous and the Sacred-Chola Bronzes from South India, Mapin 2002)
Photographs: AIIS, Center for Art and Archaeology.