Learn 5 Ancient Indian Sculpture Techniques Today
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. How to practice the Lost Wax Technique
  2. How to use the Sandstone Carving Technique
  3. How to create with the Terra Cotta Sculpting Technique
  4. How to craft using the Wooden Sculpting Technique
  5. How to sculpt using the Marble Carving Technique

Step into the fascinating world of art and history as we explore some truly remarkable ancient Indian sculpture techniques. These time-honored methods have been passed down through generations, leaving an indelible mark on India's rich cultural tapestry. Today, we'll look at five such techniques that you can learn and practice in your own time.

How to practice the Lost Wax Technique

The Lost Wax Technique, or 'Cire Perdue' as it is known in French, is one of the oldest forms of metal casting, used extensively in ancient Indian sculpture techniques. It's a process that requires patience and precision, but the results are undeniably stunning. Let's walk through the steps of how you can apply this technique in your own artistic endeavors.

Designing the Model

The first step in the Lost Wax Technique involves designing your model. Using beeswax, you'll want to sculpt your desired form. Remember, this is where your creativity shines—make something that speaks to you. You can use tools to etch in details, ensuring every feature or pattern is captured in the wax.

Creating the Mold

Once you're happy with your wax model, it's time to create a mold. This is done by applying layers of clay around your wax model. The thickness of the clay layer will determine the thickness of your final sculpture. After applying the clay, you'll need to let it dry completely.

Wax Melting and Metal Pouring

With your clay mold dry, it's time for the exciting part—melting the wax. You'll need to heat the mold in a furnace so the wax inside melts and drains out, leaving a hollow clay mold. This is why it's called the 'Lost Wax' technique, as the wax is literally lost in the process. Once this is done, molten metal is poured into the hollow space. Traditionally, bronze or brass was used in ancient Indian sculpture techniques.

Breaking the Mold and Finishing Touches

After the metal has cooled and solidified, the clay mold is carefully broken to reveal the metal sculpture. The final step involves cleaning and polishing the sculpture, bringing out its true beauty. You now have a piece of art that echoes the ancient Indian sculpture techniques.

There you have it! By following these steps, you can practice the Lost Wax Technique at home. Whether you're an experienced artist looking to try something new, or a beginner interested in ancient Indian sculpture techniques, this method offers an exciting and rewarding experience.

How to use the Sandstone Carving Technique

Shifting gears from metal to stone, let's explore the Sandstone Carving Technique. Known for its durability and easy accessibility, sandstone has been a popular choice in Indian sculpture. Let's look at how you can wield this ancient Indian sculpture technique.

Selecting the Right Sandstone

The first step is selecting the right piece of sandstone. Look for a stone that's free of cracks and is a size you are comfortable working with. Remember, sandstone comes in a variety of colors, so you can choose a hue that aligns with your vision.

Designing and Outlining

Before you start carving, it's vital to have a clear idea of what you want to create. Sketch your design on paper first and then outline it on the sandstone using a pencil or chalk. This will serve as your guide as you begin carving your masterpiece.

Carving the Sandstone

With your design outlined, it's time to start carving. Using a chisel and a mallet, you'll begin to shape the sandstone, removing excess material and refining your design. Remember to always chisel away from you to avoid injury. It's a process that demands focus, but the satisfaction of seeing your design emerge from the stone is truly rewarding.

Refining and Polishing

Once you've finished carving, it's time to refine and polish your sculpture. Fine-grit sandpaper can be used to smooth out any rough edges and bring out the details of your design. Lastly, applying a sealant will protect your sculpture from weathering and ensure its longevity.

By learning and applying the Sandstone Carving Technique, you're not just creating art, but also keeping alive an integral part of the ancient Indian sculpture techniques. It's a wonderful way to connect with history and express your creativity at the same time.

How to create with the Terra Cotta Sculpting Technique

Sandstone carving is a fascinating craft, but let's turn our attention to a technique that's a bit more hands-on — the Terra Cotta Sculpting Technique. Known for its earthy hues and malleability, terra cotta has been a favorite medium in the world of ancient Indian sculpture techniques. Let's dive into how you can get your hands dirty with this age-old art form.

Prepping the Terra Cotta

The first step in terra cotta sculpting involves preparing your clay. You'll need to knead it thoroughly to get rid of air bubbles that could potentially cause cracks. Trust me, it's as fun as it sounds, and it can be a great stress buster too!

Forming your Sculpture

Once you've prepared your clay, it's time to start shaping your sculpture. With terra cotta, you're only limited by your imagination. Whether you're looking to create a detailed figurine or a simple pot, the flexibility of this medium allows for endless possibilities. Just remember to keep your hands wet to prevent the clay from sticking.

Drying and Firing

Once you're happy with your creation, it needs to be left to dry. This process can take a few days and requires patience. You want to make sure it's completely dry before it's fired in a kiln, which will harden it and make it durable.

Glazing and Decorating

After firing, your sculpture is ready to be decorated. You can glaze it to give it a glossy finish, or leave it as is to appreciate the natural beauty of terra cotta. Either way, you've just created a piece of art using an age-old Indian sculpture technique.

There's something incredibly grounding about working with terra cotta, a material that's as ancient as the art form itself. By mastering this technique, you're stepping into the shoes of countless Indian artisans who have passed down these skills through generations. So, what will you create?

How to craft using the Wooden Sculpting Technique

Moving from clay to an entirely different medium, let's explore the Wooden Sculpting Technique. Wood sculpting is another integral part of ancient Indian sculpture techniques, and it's time to see how you can use it to carve your path in the world of art.

Choosing the Right Wood

Not all woods are created equal, especially when it comes to sculpting. Hardwoods like teak and rosewood are typically used for their durability and fine grain. Picking the right wood is the first step to a successful wooden sculpture.

Carving the Basic Shape

With your wood chosen, it's time to carve! But remember, wood carving is a subtractive process: once you've removed material, you can't add it back. So, start by sketching the basic shape of your sculpture onto the wood, then use a carving knife to cut along the outline. Take it slow; haste makes waste!

Adding Details

Once you've got your basic shape, you can start adding details. This is where your sculpture really starts to come to life. Using smaller carving tools, you can add textures, patterns, or even facial features if you're working on a figurine. The sky's the limit!

Finishing Touches

After all the carving, it's time to smooth out your sculpture. Sandpaper is your best friend here. Start with a coarse grit to remove any big imperfections, then gradually move to finer grits for a smooth finish. Finally, apply a coat of oil or wax to seal the wood and bring out its natural beauty. Now step back and admire your work!

The Wooden Sculpting Technique is a journey that takes you from a simple piece of wood to a work of art. It's a testament to the skill and patience of the artisans who have honed this ancient Indian sculpture technique over centuries. So, are you ready to try your hand at it?

How to sculpt using the Marble Carving Technique

From the flexibility of wood, we transition to the grandeur of marble. Marble has been a favorite of sculptors across the world for centuries, including those practicing ancient Indian sculpture techniques. But why is that, you ask? Let's dive in!

Why Marble?

Yes, marble is heavy and hard, but it's also translucent, just like human skin. This makes it the perfect medium for sculpting realistic human figures. And if that's not enough, marble is sturdy and resistant to weathering, ensuring your masterpiece will stand the test of time.

The First Strike

Marble sculpting, like wood carving, is a subtractive process. But unlike wood, marble doesn't forgive mistakes. So, you must plan your first strike carefully. A chisel and a mallet are your tools of choice here. Start with broad strokes to carve out the general shape of your sculpture.

Finishing Strokes

When you're close to the final shape, switch to a lighter mallet and a finer chisel. This allows you to work on the details without risking big chips. The key is patience and precision. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day!


Once you're satisfied with your carving, it's time to polish. Start with a coarse rasping file to smooth out any rough patches, then move to a finer file and finally a polishing stone. The final result should be so smooth that it feels like real skin to the touch.

Marble sculpting might seem intimidating at first, but with patience and practice, you can master this ancient Indian sculpture technique. So, ready to chip away at your first marble masterpiece?

If you're fascinated by ancient Indian sculpture techniques and want to expand your skills in this art form, consider exploring the workshop 'How to Sculpt a Skull' by Andrew Joseph Keith. Although not directly related to ancient Indian techniques, this workshop will help you develop your sculpting skills and provide a solid foundation for further exploration into the world of sculpture.

Additionally, don't forget to browse through Daisie's classes for more inspiration and learning opportunities from talented artists and creators across various disciplines.