A colossal seated figure of last Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir State sculpted by Ravinder Jamwal is today complimenting city skyline in a memorial park constructed on the bank of river Tawi. Cast in alloy, primarily Bronze and installed in Maharaja Hari Singh Memorial Park, the statue was recently unveiled by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in presence of Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh and legislatures besides art lovers and dedicated to public as a tribute to the last Maharaja.
Maharaja Hari Singh was last ruling Maharaja of princely state of J&K State who held the title of Lieutenant-General His Highness Shriman Rajrajeshwar Maharajadhiraj Sri Sir Hari Singh Indar Mahinder Bahadur, Sipar-i-Sultanat, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO. Now that the statue has been installed in a magnificently built park, the 2.5 ton and 10 feet high figure has become iconic which is sure to attract not only domestic but foreign tourists as well. This park if maintained to its glory is also sure to find a place in tourists’ itinerary very soon.
According to Ravinder Jamwal who owns to his credit many such statues installed in city rotaries or his artwork that dons skylines of Naraina Hospital in Katra, a lot of pain and hard work has gone into making of this iconic piece of art that has come alive after its installation. Still important was detailing of features and dress of Maharaja including his English boots besides throne and sword which go by the stature of Maharaja and complement each other.
The very concept of having a statue in sitting position, according to known sculptor Ravinder Jamwal was that it will be first of its kind and completely different from those already installed in city rotaries. He proved himself right and the statue of Maharaja is quite similar to Abraham Lincon Memorial located in Washington DC or the statue of Siyaji Rao, Maharaja of Baroda State who belonged to Gayakwad Dynasty of Marathas. His latest statue is definitely different from the rest installed in Jammu.
The statue of Maharaja Hari Singh which is fifth in series is composed of alloy and raises just few feet from ground. The seated figure with armchair and footrest upon a pedestal gazes directly towards Bagh-e-Bahu fort (East). Special attention has been paid to hands, nose and a specially designed throne besides sword by Ravinder Jamwal who says that scaling has been done keeping in view 6 feet tall figure and accordingly this statue created that’s 2.15 times the normal size.
After the model was approved and contract signed the actual work began in the studio of Jamwal that’s located at his birthplace, Birpur located in the outskirts of Jammu City. Unlike Lincon statue that’s carved and comprises of 28 blocks of white Georgia marble, this status of Maharaja Hari Singh is that of bronze but has multiple metals in it to make it an everlasting piece of art. What went into making of this statue is now a history but worth penning down and worth remembering.
The height of statue along with Chattar (Umbrella) goes up to 14 feet and it took Jamwal almost a year to complete it. He has used gun metal, copper, zinc and even led to make the alloy before casting it. This noncorrosive metal statue will require very little maintenance. Giving details of the process, the ace sculptor said that first of all an armature of a seated figure was made of steel channels and bars on which statue was built with Plaster of Paris. This was the time when every single detail was taken care of for the reason that everything was to get reflected in subsequent moulds. So there was no scope of leaving any flaw.
According to Jamwal, 55 pieces were put together by welding to get final shape of colossal statue. This art of making statue with bronze dates back to something between 4,000 and 3,000 B.C. when bronze was discovered. That’s why the period was known as ‘Bronze Age’ and today sculptors around the globe are using same technique, he said. Like ancient ages, Jamwal too followed the procedure of making prototype with Plaster of Paris on armature and then giving it finishing touches.
This was followed by moulding, waxing, chasing, spruing wax for pouring molten metal to all of the areas of the sculpture. Once shell was complete it was placed in a high pressure sealed oven, known as an autoclave to melt the wax out. The empty shell was then filled with molten bronze. Bronze at this stage was heated at about 1100 degrees. Jamwal explained that at this stage of foundry, workers face difficulties and most of the accidents occur here only. After cooling, the shell was broken off to separate the bronze from the shell. Statue that was cut into pieces during moulding was later put together again and the process was called chasing.
Final stage involved patinazation which meant treating bronze with chemical reaction that takes place between bronze and acidic chemicals under high temperatures that oxidizes the surface of the metal. This coloured or textured appearance not only brings in shine in the metal but also protects it from atmospheric pollution. Now the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) that has installed this statue will have to polish the statue once in a decade to maintain it.
The crater of statues of General Bikram Singh, General Jorawar Singh, Indira Gandhi, Mahatama Gandhi, Brig Rajinder Singh, Mian Dido, Raja Jambolochan and artwork installed at Narayana Hospital Ravinder Jamwal presently teaches art at Institute of Music and Fine Arts (IMFA), Jammu and had exhibited his artwork in many states. Born in Birpur, Ravinder Jamwal popularly known as Ravi has done his B.F.A (sculpture) from Institute of music and Fine Arts, Jammu and post graduation (portraiture) from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Having recorded his name in Limca Book of Records for his work he is also recipient of National award by Lalit kala Academy, New Delhi and All India Fine Art and Crafts Society, New Delhi.
The Bronze statue of Maharaja Hari Singh installed on Tawi bank is corrosion-resistant, strong, resilient, formable and weldable. He advises his students to devote as much time as they can to bring in perfection in their work. More students, he says come to fetch degree and diplomas for seeking jobs and only a couple of them rise to become good artists who are sure to make difference in the lives of people through their artwork.
The material used in making of this statue including gun mettle, tin and micro wax were all imported from Delhi, he said adding that at many times he used to fill his thermos with tea and work post midnight to complete the statue within stipulated timeframe. Today when the statue stands installed, he is elated and feels proud of contributing into the art world of Jammu and Kashmir State. Ravinder has participated in various national and international art camps held at Jaipur, Delhi, Paris, Korea and held solo sculpture exhibitions at Jammu University, Rabindra Bhawan, Himachal Pradesh and at Gulmarg, Srinagar besides other parts of the country which makes Jammu proud of him.