Pumice, also called Pumicite, is a volcanic rock that consists of highly vesicular glass. These light-coloured stones are formed from magma, a rich gas that erupted out from a volcano. This hot froth of gas bubbles freezes and gets trapped in the liquid turned to glass, when exposed to air, forming lumps of pumice. The unusual foamy appearance of pumice happens because of simultaneous rapid cooling and rapid depressurization. The material is usually so light that it will float on water. Scoria is another vesicular volcanic rock that differs from pumice in having larger and thicker vesicles, coming in darker shades. Eruptions under water cool faster, as a result, a large volume of pumice is formed in the oceans, and it floats atop water, becoming a big shipping hazard for cargo ships.
The volcanic eruption at Krakatoa of Indonesia, leaving rafts of pumice drifted through the Pacific Ocean for up to 20 years and repeated underwater magma explosions near Tonga, Oceania creating pumice that floated 100 kilometers to Fuji, are the few living examples of the rock formation across the world. This volcanic rock is widely used to make lightweight concrete or cinder blocks by mixing the grain form of pumice with lime. This concrete form was used as far back as Roman times for building aqueducts and huge domes for ancient churches. Owing to its high demand, particularly for water filtration, chemical spill containment, cement manufacturing, horticulture, and usage in the pet industry, the mining of pumice from the environmentally sensitive areas has been stopped, as it may cause topographic changes, affect soil quality and also eliminate vegetation.
Though pumice is not found readily in India, it is handled on a large scale by manufacturers, suppliers, and exporters. Pumice is mostly preferred to manufacture lightweight concrete used for construction purposes like making long-span bridge decks, building blocks, etc. Its application is also found in the beauty industry, in the form of abrasives in soaps, cleaners, scrubbers, dental cleaning paste, polishes, massagers, and for making stone-washed jeans. In our country, sedimentary rocks like laterite, quartzite, khondelite, felsite, zoisite, etc., are mostly utilized than pumice for construction purposes, considering the pumice’s sparse availability.
In ancient times, along with philosophical ideas, concepts of Indian art also spread widely to every corner of Asia. Mural art is one such estimable element in this treasury of crafts and ideas. A mural is a piece of art painted directly on a wall, ceiling, or other permanent surfaces, distinguished with its characteristic of maintaining the architectural grandeur of the given space harmoniously even when drawing over it. Buddhism and Jainism. The history of Indian murals traces back to early medieval times, from the 2nd century BC to 8th – 10th century AD, with its sharp remains still found from almost 20 locations around the country, including the cave monuments of Ajanta, Bagh, Sittanavasal, Armamalai, Ravan Chhaya rock shelter and Kailasanatha temple from Ellora Caves. During the 11th and 12th centuries, this pattern of large-scale wall paintings saw a slow shift to miniature paintings, which were first introduced on palm-leaf manuscripts, later to be depicted on ivory, small stones, papers, canvas, etc.
The Theme of Pumice Stone Art
The mural painting technique over pumice stone gives a 3D effect to the depicted design, which helps throw life into the art in a creative way. Here the stone is embossed with drawings to make a mural art often hung on walls or exhibited as a showpiece. The themes are mostly religious, and the styles are closely related to Buddhism or Jainism, as per the artist’s choice. At times, they are also inspired by themes of miniature paintings from a particular region. Art lovers reflect exuberant themes and a joyous sense of life in this pumice stone mural art.