Originally Posted by magicbastarder
i'm a great fan of the adage 'there's no such thing as a stupid question' - do you mean that the central channel is not merely cut into the material, but that either side of that, it's shaped to emphasise it?
Big fan of no stupid questions also..
So with my limited knowledge...
That's my understanding of relief carving, another term is bas relief. I think the difference being, the height of the raised part.
It would be a big step up in technical skill from carving a drawing or sculpture into an object, as you need to plan the raised parts in order to carve out the non-necessary/lower parts, so that the figure or shape carved is what you don't touch.
Edited to add, this is my new favourite thread on boards.. thanks OP and all contributors
Essentially, you are carving around it, in order for it to be raised (where the word relief comes from - relevo (to raise))