This handcut and hand polished piece of amazing art comes to you from Mahablipuram (or Mamallpuram), the historically-rich seaside town near Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Using indigenous and extremely durable varieties of granite stone the artists here breathe life into each piece. Yes, literally ‘life’, since after the sculptural work is complete, a ceremony called nayanon-milan is held, in which the stature is invested with sight, life and breath, thus making it a virtual living force. Each stone is selected carefully for its texture and then the stone is cut by moving a series of wedges about 5 to 7.5 cm deep. These wedges are driven carefully with heavy 4 kg hammers, resulting in the rocks breaking apart with clean edges. No machines allowed here! A good stone is supposed to have no flaws like, stains, patches or spots. The themes for most of the sculptures have always been religious in nature. Much of the elaboration here has a strong basis in the mythology and Puranic tradition of India and it all started some 1600 to 2000 years ago!