His workshop at Porur is undoubtedly a visual treat! Being a seventh generation carpenter, his works are exemplary, be it the customised wooden vehicles (bike, car, jeep, bicycle, etc.), wooden chandeliers or temple chariots! Appar Lakshmanan, a man of simplicity, possessing extensive knowledge, shares the same with Amritha Prem
A father-son relationship, many-a-times, goes through a tumultuous phase as the son grows, getting back to being
cordial during later years. So was the case with Lakshmanan too. He began respecting his father, Appar Achari, as
he grew, after he realised his skill at carpentry and the respect people had on him for the same. After completing his 10th standard, he learnt the art from his father and moved to Chennai to stand on his own legs. “My father was an expert in making bullock carts.Though he was my guru and best friend, I haven’t been able
to make a cart like he did!”
Many feel that carpenters are not paid well and thus, suffer a difficult life. Though it is true, Lakshmanan wanted to break the cliché and create awareness about this art, which unfortunately is dying a slow death. He thus, made
a wooden car that got him an overwhelming response, a wooden lamp that fetched him his state Award and a
wooden cycle. These were just the beginning. Now, his work space displays absolute magnificence in the form of wood work! He has also published eight books on carpentry to share his knowledge with other-carpenters and also has got his portfolio published as a memoir. He owns a school named ‘Guru Shisya Parampara’ that teaches carpentry to students free of cost, so as to keep the art alive.
RE-USE BUT DONT RECYCLE
During olden days, trees that were 300 years old were only chopped to use wood for making doors, window, furniture, etc. However, these days, the demand is so high that trees as young as just 30 years are cut, thereby, making end products less sturdy and less durable. He also says that, as per shastra, cutting of one tree ought to be
replaced with sowing five of the same variety. On asking about recycling wood, he advices to reuse and not
Utensils made up of wood can prevent aging. Listed below are the different tree types one can make use of while making cooking utensils, furniture, etc:
Plates – Kodukkapuli (Manila tamarind tree)
Tumbler and rolling pin – Semmaram (Red sandalwood is good to inhale)
Salt plate, furniture, beds and musical instruments – Palamaram (Jackfruit tree)
Ladle – Bamboo stick and coconut shell (Good for health and highly resistant to heat)
Doors, windows and house entrance – Komba, vengai and poovarasu maram
Chipankatai (teether) made up of seemaram (Red sandalwood) are good for infants, as mother’s milk and semmaram taste similar. Its usage also helps in good teeth alignment and strengthens the gums. The size of Chipankatai depends on the size of the mother’s little finger.
Fingers & its respective wood teethers:
- Thumb – Semmaram (Red sandalwood)
- Little and ring finger -Portia Tree
- Ring and middle finger – Kodukkapuli
Mysore vengai consists of green colour resin in it, which if applied on the face or kept as a bindi after attaining puberty, prevents one from skin problems, particularly, pimples.
Steps to do it:
• Collect barks of Mysore vengai tree
• Immerse it in fresh water for 15 days
• Remove the barks and boil the water containing the essence until it reduces in volume i.e. becomes a thick paste.
• Leave this mixture in a coconut shell and dry it up.
• Apply as bindi!
Poovarasu maram (flower’s essence) can act as an immediate medicine if you cut your fingers, while working with sharp objects.
Ponga (Silver tree fern) – If a small piece of this tree is tied to a waist band, worn under a dress, urinary infection can be avoided completely. Ensure the piece touches the body when the ornament is worn.
DID YOU KNOW
Why infants were made to sleep in wooden cradles and not in cloth/Spring swings in the earlier days?
Wooden cradle allows parents to move it swiftly in only one direction (with balance) allowing the kid to sleep peacefully, whereas cloth/spring swings can be swigged in multi-directions making the kid feel dizzy and uneasy, which is highly dangerous.
Why is wooden furniture less comfortable than fabric sofas?
Wooden furniture is designed in such a way that the body posture is corrected, preventing one from back and neck pain, whereas the sofa/ cushions will sooner or later result in severe body ache. Each piece of furniture is designed as per one’s needs. For example, a teacher’s chair will have a curved base with a side handle bar whereas for a mayor chair, the base will be flat, at a height and will have a leg rest.
Lakshmanan’s dream is to build a temple carved out of wood – from top to bottom – enriched with medicinal properties, healing people from all negativities and diseases, thus, making lives better.