As one of the oldest art forms in human history, wherever wood and humans has existed, wood carving has happened. As a light and highly manipulative material, it was preferred to the much heavier stone.
In the Biblical tradition, it is suggested that the first man, Adam, was the first wood carver.
Wood carving has been used to develop new technology, instruments, buildings, as well as an art form to be admired in its own right.
In modern Australia, Oceanic art was often produced by carving with wood. This was particularly used for the creation of canoes to travel as well.
While in North America, the Native Americans used wood carving to make totem poles for spiritual occasions. However, due to the perishableness of wood, it is unclear to historians how this tradition emerged.
In Asia, wood carving was also widely used. This is especially the case in Japan and China. Even today many of the most notable buildings, such as the Forbidden City in Beijing was construction with wood.
While in Europe, the art form was mostly used for the construction of homes, churches and cathedrals in the early-medieval period.
In many African societies, wood carving was used to produce wooden masks, as well as religious and ceremonial figures.
The creation of figures has been a regular feature in the history of wood carving. This was extremely difficult to create details and the wood soon started to crack. However, in many cases the details were of little concern since paint would be added for the details.
This is why many modern sculptures tend to favour marble and other materials. Nevertheless, woodcarver continue to carry out the long tradition of wood carving.
Unfortunately, much of the historical products of wood carving are no longer available to us, since they have subsequently perished.