Once crushed by competition, their success is now set in stone

The sound of chiseling greets you even before you enter the workspace of Ilaiyaraja (40) and Muthukumar (40) in Thirumuruganpoondi.

Published: 03rd October 2021 05:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd October 2021 05:22 AM   |  A+A-

The cost of simply tilting a statue to work on it can run into lakhs of rupees. Transportation too is neither easy nor cheap, as the sculptures weigh several tonnes

Express News Service

TIRUPPUR: The sound of chiseling greets you even before you enter the workspace of Ilaiyaraja (40) and Muthukumar (40) in Thirumuruganpoondi. Surrounded by sculptures of religious deities and politicians in varying heights, the duo are exclusively sought for creating massive statues.

Located 16 km from Tiruppur city, Thirumuruganpoondi is a hub of sculptors. They recently finished working on a 38-ft Lord Anjeneya statue for a temple in Srirangam in Tiruchy. The only evidence of the work is the almost 60-ft tall shed used for chiseling the statue.

“My father and grandfather were good sculptors. Naturally, my attention was drawn towards sculptures and I started creating small stone ones. I devoted my time to sculpting after my senior secondary education, and was joined by my childhood friend, Muthukumar,” Ilaiyaraja said.

In 2000, they rented a room for Rs 500 and started a business. “Though we were skilled, we couldn’t get any big orders from religious or other organisations,” he said.

“It was the toughest time of our lives. There is always stiff competition among sculptors in Thirumuruganpoondi, as there are many talented people in our field. We were forced to close our facility. At that time, we decided to offer statues with good designs at cheaper prices to expand our reach,” Muthukumar recalled.

This worked in their favour and they drew orders from Dindigul, Erode, and Tiruchy. “New customers started demanding more creative and religious statues for a good price,” Muthukumar added. With expertise in making massive and detailed black stone sculptures, they were soon able to turn in profits. Today, they employ over 15 sculptors.

Speaking about the difficulty in making jumbo statues, Illaiyaraja said they are much more complex. “The measurements for sculpting need to be very accurate. When marking them on the angular side of the rock, we have to be very careful as a small mistake can cost us dearly. An error of one inch at an angle could result in a flaw of 3 feet on the statue.”

One of the most difficult statues the duo worked on was a 21-ft structure of Goddess Kali depicted with 19 hands and a 108-skull garland. “It took us several weeks and weighed more than 35 tonnes,” said Ilaiyaraja.

Creating the giant
In 2017, Muthukumar and Ilaiyaraja received an order for a 38-ft statue of Lord Anjeneya. They spent nearly two years visiting stone quarries across the State to find the perfect rock, and in September 2019, found a 40-ft-long black stone. But the 110-tonne rock wasn’t easy to transport. The truck carrying it got stuck on a mud road for three days. Once it arrived, a team of 10 sculptors was put together, but soon, the pandemic played spoilsport and stalled the project for six months. Just tilting the statue to work on it cost them Rs 5 lakh. After four years of toil, the 108-tonne statue was finally completed. Transporting it to Tiruchy, with a police escort, cost Rs 1.8 lakh, inclusive of tax

Notable giant sculptures

9 ft statue of Sudalaimadan village deity for  a temple in Theni

21 ft statue of Goddess Kali for a temple at Ganapathipalayam in Palladam

38 ft statue of Lord  Anjeneya for a  temple in Tiruchy

Primary difficulties in making a 38-ft statue

Finding a suitable stone measuring 40 ft

Transporting the rock

Measuring every inch of the rock

Sending the product to the buyer


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