Home > Temples of Kerala > Wooden Images

Wooden Images

The temples of Kerala have exquisite wooden sculptures in every praakaara but idols made of wood are rare. For carving wooden idols five types of wood can be used viz, Charalam, Thinduka (locally known as Panachi), Teak, Varikkaplavu (a variety of Jackwood), and Devathaaram. Of these, Teak and Jackwood are commonly used in Kerala. The preservation of these wooden images is usually done by an offering called Chaanthaattam. The liquid called chaanth for chaanthaattam is taken by distilling the bark or roots of teak. Normally from 10 kg of teak chips, 2.5 kg of chaanth is obtained. For distillation two pots, having same size of mouths are used. The first pot which is empty has to be covered with a thin layer of vazhappola (rind of plantain) while the second one contains chips of the roots of teak. Over the first empty pot, the second pot filled with the chips is kept in upside down position in such a way that the mouths ofthese pots are close to each other. The mouths are
then firmly fixed by pasting wet-mud around them. This will avoid any leakage of liquid. The next step is to lower the entire unit containing the two pots as such into a pit. The pit is then fully covered with mud and fire put over it, similar to that in a furnace. after 24 hours the liquid of the teak chips of the upper pot trickles down into the empty lower pot fIltered through the cover of rind of plantain. This fine liquid is known as chaanth and applying this to the idol is known as chaanthaattam. Temples having wooden idols scatter throughout the state. In most temples applying of chaanth is an important vazhipaat. In some temples instead of chaanthaattam, the idols are painted in modern colours. The principles to be adopted for making wooden images are similar to those for stone or metal images. However it is seen that in certain temples planks of varikka-plaavu (a variety of jackwood) represent the idols. In this context it is essential to point out that before cutting a tree for the purpose of an idol, permission of the tree is first obtained by conducting a vrksha pooja (special rite for the tree). Moreover the tree has to be cut very care fully without allowing it to fall on the ground and it has to be taken to the work-site of the temple with all pomp and honour.

Wooden images are seen in many of the temples of Kerala and some of them are exquisite carvings. A complete enumeration of all temples having wood carvings is yet to be obtained. However, there are some renowned temples like the idols of Udayavara Sree Daivasthaagam, Kunjathur (Kasaragod taluk) where the deities are seated on a swing having exquisite wood- carvings. Other temples having wooden images are Thirumandhamkunnu Sree Bhagavathi temple (Ernad taluk), Arakkurissi Udayarkunnu Bhagavathi temple (Mannarkkad taluk), Manappullikkavu Sree Bhagavathi temple (Palakkad taluk),' Thirukaacchamkurissi .Maha Vishnu (Sree Rama) temple (Payyaiore, Chittur taluk) , Thripallavur Sree Bhagavathi temple, and Kotikkad Bhagavathi temple (both in Mathur taluk) , Paramekkavu Sree Bhagavathi temple (Thrissur), Sree Kurumba Bhagavathi temple (Kodungallur taluk),Chettikulangara Sree Bhagavathi temple (Mavelikkara taluk) , Sree Parvathi and Sre Maha Ganapathi sub-shrines of the Siva temple (Kottarakkara, Kottarakkara talu ), Thozhuvancode Sree Chaamundi Devi temple (Thiruvananthapuram taluk). The list is not exhaustive but representative of some peculiar characteristics. Among those narrated above special mention has to be made about the new idol installed in 1997 at Paramekkavu Bhagavathi temple which is over five feet tall and almost the same width from one end of the arm to the other. It is an exquisite master-piece of wood-carving and it took one year to complete the carving. For further details on wood-carvings in temples Chapter 9 may be referred to.

Temples of Kerala
Related Vigrahas Topics


Deities-past and present


Types of vigrahas

Stone images


Metal images

Wooden images


Katu-sarkkara images

Stucco images


Mud images

Measurement of vigraha- General principles


Total height of vigrahas

Scupturing of vigrahas


Characterstics of vigrahas

Lord Ganapathi


Lord Siva

Lord Sankaranarayana


Sakthi worship

Maha Vishnu and his incarnations


Lord Subramanya

Lord Saastha and Ayyappa


Naaga worship

Other deities

Kerala Temples Sorted as per Dieties

ayyappa temples in kerala

Ayyappa Temples in Kerala

narasimha temples in kerala

Narasimha Temples in Kerala

bhagavathi temples in kerala

Bhagavathy Temples in Kerala

pandava temples in kerala

Pandavas Temples in Kerala

dhanwanthari temples in kerala

Dhanwanthari Temples in Kerala

siva temples in kerala

Siva Temples in Kerala

hanuman temples in kerala

Hanuman Temples in Kerala

sree rama temples in kerala

Sree Rama Temples in Kerala

lakshmana temples in kerala

Lakshmana Temples in Kerala

ganapathi temples in kerala

Vinayaka Temples / Ganapathi Temples in Kerala

mariyamman temples in kerala

Mariyamman Temples in Kerala

vishnu temples in kerala

Vishnu Temples in Kerala

muruga temples in kerala

Muruga Temples in Kerala

vishnu maya temples in kerala

Vishnu Maya Temples in Kerala

naga temples in kerala

Naga Temples in Kerala

other temples in kerala

Other's Temples in Kerala

Alphabetical Listing of Temples in Kerala

  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z