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Meena Guinane’s Father Francis Kunjappan Chakkungal ( 20 FEB 1938 – 12 MAY 2023) passed away

Francis Kunjappan Chakkungal will be immortalized as the man who gave life to deadwood. More specifically he was a sculptor, artist, actor and story teller from Kerala, South-West India, who carved out a livelihood through carving hardwood sculptures. His work is represented in different parts of the World such as America, Africa & Europe. Many of his work were primarily commissioned by the Roman Catholic Churches of his home state Kerala and in this very Church features three of his works – these very Altar/Scripture table and the centre of Christ ascension to heaven sculpture.

In addition he also embraced the storytelling traditions of the native Hindu community as evidenced by the many intricately carved, often monumental commissions of his patrons. “Nimi Arts & Ivory Works” will be familiar to many who view this special tribute to one of our native sons. His studio was ideally located in the busy suburb of Panayappilly in Kochi (Kerala).

Kunjappan Chakkungal as he was known to his friends who was born on the 20th of February 1938 in Nazareth, Pandikudy. His artwork was not machine produced but rather a personal, physical labour of love. Not surprisingly his name and works featured regularly in local newpapers as the Indian Express, Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi.

Francis Chakkungal won numerous prestigious State and National and Cultural Awards which featured on the local and State Newpapers.

His romance with wood began at the tender age of 13, after an initial apprenticeship with a local craftsman, he later came under the able guidance of Nanu Achari of Mavalikkara. This is where his skill really blossomed, as he later recalled with pride that it was during these early days that one of the works jointly carved in ivory with Nanu featuring a 20 scene Nalacharitham work was procured by a fine art museum in America.

The Bust of Christ in Rosewood, Teak, and ivory for the Roman Catholic Church was his main specialty.

He also portrayed Christ in the drama tableaus featured during Good Friday rituals.

Francis Kunjappan Chakkungal’s sad passing at the age of 85 years occurred last Friday, May 12th 2023.

He will be sadly missed by his wife Ida, his daughters Mini, Meena, Nimi, and Nirmala his Son-in-laws, grandchildren, extended family, friends, and his numerous students who learned the art of sculpting from him.

Meena is Vice President of Galway Indian Cultural and Sports Community.

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