The 'Gatha' stones are carved out from workable rocks and stones commonly found in local surroundings. The rocks are polished till a flat surface; 10-15 cm in thickness is available for carving. The memorial figures of the dead are hand drawn and then chiseled on to the stones. The depiction also includes various symbols that denote a person's social stature as well as personal interests. Finally, these carvings are painted with natural earthen colours and oil paints.

Raw Materials

Stone - These are found in the local villages in the surroundings and are used as a base to carve as memorial stones. 
Oil Paints - It is used to paint the final carved memorial stone figures. 
Geru - It is a natural earthen red color that was traditionally used to paint the stone carvings. 




Tools & Technology

Hammers -  It is used to hammer the chisel while carving.
Chisels - Different types of chisels are used in carving the stones.
Nails - It is used as a thin pointed tool to carve intricate details.
Brushes -Various brushes are used to paint with oil colors and geru.
Sandpaper - It is used to polish the carved stone before and after chiseling.



The Gatha stones are considered to be auspicious and have an important place in the culture of the tribes. These memorial stones are used to appease the spirits and commemorate the dead. Each stage of the Gatha stone making is accompanied with prayers and ceremonial gatherings. From the day the date is fixed for sculpting, to each stage of the carving and finally the grand installation of the Gatha stone, each and every step of the way is celebrated with elaborate religious rituals. The completed memorial is taken to the village elders for their blessings, followed by a grand feast organized to celebrate the Gatha installation where alcohol is enjoyed liberally. 

A ceremonial ritual is conducted to commemorate the placing of the stone, where the sculptor or artisan presides as the priest during the ceremony. Donations of food and clothing are also made


The stones selected for carving are mostly hard, crusted, white stones. A fair sized rock is broken to obtain a flat surface with an even thickness of 10-15 cm. The flat stone surface obtained is worshipped by performing certain rituals, and then work on it begins. 

The design to be made is drawn using pencils and charcoal, with the portrait of the person drawn in full detail. Using various sized chisels and hammer, the designs are carved. Depth is added to the sculpture by carving out spaces of about an inch around the figures, this enhances the sculpture making them look life-like. Traditionally, Geru was used to paint the stones in a brick red color, but recently oil paints have also come to be used in painting the sculptures. The carving is often done between, 'Kartik Chaudas' (end of November) and 'Holi', which is celebrated in the middle of March. A peculiar tradition is followed by the artisans where they work on the stones only in the night and not in the mornings. It takes almost a fortnight to carve a Gatha.