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Indian Crafts >> Ivory Craft
Ivory Craft
Indian Crafts - Ivory Craft
History of Ivory Craft

Together with muslin and spices, ivory was one of the most prized commodities that was exported from India to Europe, West Asia and the neighbouring Eastern countries. A Vedic text includes ivory-work as one of the noblest crafts of the time. Early excavations show that ivory was intricately carved and used for figures of deities, votive objects, jewellers seals, fans, combs and also for doors, thrones and palanquins.

Together with muslin and spices, ivory was one of the most prized commodities that was exported from India to Europe, West Asia and the nearing Eastern countries. A vedic text includes ivory-work as one of the noblest crafts of the time. Early excavations show that ivory was intricately carved and used for figures of deities, combs, fans and also for doors, thrones and palanquins.

Together with muslin and spices, ivory was one of the most prized commodities that were exported from India to Europe, West Asia and the nearina eastern countries. A Vedic text includes ivory-work as one of the noblest crafts of the time. Early excavations show that ivory was intricately carved and used for figures of deities, jewellers seal, fans, combs and also for doors, thrones and palanquins.

A Vedic text includes it amongst the noblest of crafts. Apart from the yield of the Harappa-Texila excavations, we know historically of King Solomon acquiring Indian ivory in 10th century B.C. and King Darius using ivory decorations in his palace at Susa in 6th century B.C. excavations show refined figures of gods and goddesses.

Kerala has mainted its reputation in ivory carving for centuries, and Trivandrum is the most important practising centre. Early products were images of deities and sacred animals. For the past two hundred years the talented ivory carvers of Kerala have been carving mythological figures and natural objects. Recently, ivory and wood have been combined to make figures that vary in height 3 to 24.

Ivory was one of the most prized commodities that was exported from India to Europe, West Asia and the Far East. A Vedic text includes ivory work as one of the noblest crafts of the time. Early excavations show that Ivory was made into intricately carved and used for figures of deities, votive objects, jewellery seals, fans, combs & also for doors, thrones and palanquins.

Karnataka began with inlay of rosewood and ebony with ivory, some of the best example of which may be seen at the Srirangapatnam mausoleum. The doors of the Amba Vilas palace in Mysore have fine inlay work, especially with different shades, began to supplant the original expensive material with easier and cheaper medium, incidentally expanding its scope by introduction of a wider range in colours.
Fine Art
Ivory because of its elasticity and fibrous nature was considered the ideal medium of the finest expressions of the carving in contrast to wood or stone. Since ivory does not crack and can be polished to get a smoothened surface, the miniature painters have also used it as a surface for painting. The designs carved in ivory were based on the Mughal rchitecture, flora and fauna.

Ivory because of its elasticity and fibrous nature was considered the ideal medium for bringing out the best in carving in contrast to wood or stone. Asivory does not crack and can be polished to get a smooth surface, the miniature painters have also used it as a surface of painting. The designs carved in ivory were based on flora and fauna designs. Ivory bangles are made in different sizes to cover the whole are from the wrist right up to the shoulder. These bangles are decorated with glass beads, coloured lace, gold leaf or colour ornamentation.

Ivory because of its elasticity and fibrous nature was considered the ideal medium for bringing out the best carving in contrast to wood or stone. As ivory does not crack and so can be polished to get smooth surface. The miniature painters have also used it as a surface for painting. The designs carved in ivory were based on the Mughal architecture, flora and fauna.

Mahua, in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, long been a centre for ivory. The ivory craftsmen are termed Brahma-Kshatries, literal meaning of which is warriors of Brahma, and reputed as highly skilled. They can make human figures as also statues of deities in excellent quality, elegant rose-water sprinklers, decorated elephants and camels and other smaller items.

Most carvings are of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, copied from idols in the temples of Kerala and Karnataka. Carvings have also been copied from statues at the Ajanta Caves. The more common representations are of Shiva as Nataraja, Shiva - Parvati, Ganesh, Subrahmanya, Vishnu, Sarasati and Lakshmi. A variety of other items are also made, such as chess-boards, cigarette holders, paper cutters, bookmarks, rosaries, ear-studs etc

Ivory because of its elasticity & fibrous nature, was considered the ideal medium for the finest expressions of the carving, in contrast to wood or stone. Since ivory does not crack and can be polished to get a smoothened surface. The designs are not only carved but also etched on the surface, based on floral or geometrical patterns.

Karnataka is also known for its ivory inlay work. The ornamentation, which usually consists of geometrical, scroll or floral patterns is produced by setting small pieces of ivory in different shapes into the design incised on a flat surface. This exquisitely delicate art consisted hitherto of ornamenting rosewood with ivory, but of late the emphasis has shifted to securing a happy and attractive combination of woods of different natural colours against a dark background.The usual articles made in Karnataka were plates, boxes, teapoys, powder boxes, bowls, cigarette cases and many other items in floral and geometrical patterns. Now whole colourful scenes thus are depicted landscapes, pastoral scenes of a shepherd with a flock of sheep, maidens plucking and stringing flowers, flock of birds on a tree and in particular the resplendent Dusshera procession, as also popular pieces from the epics.
Procedure
The skills of carving were refined and are sustained to this day. The object to be carved is first sketched on the piece of ivory and a variety of chisels are used to carve the minutest details. The tusk is dipped in milk to soften it for easy carving. Delicate carving is done using variety of files. Although, the craftsmanship in these materials is not as refined as in the ivory carving on these materials for giving a new lease of life to the artisans. Carving entails systematic scrapping/scooping and chiseling of the materials from the core block.

Ivory is a dense substance covered with an outer layer of rough bark which has to be removed first. The object to be carved is sketched on piece of ivory and a variety of chisel are used to carve the minutest of details. The surface is smoothed out by sandpaper, then dipped in a methylated spirit with a brush, if it is white. If yellow, it is dipped in water mixed with hydrogen peroxide, which whitens it. Delicate carving is done by using variety of files.

The skills of carving were refined and sustained to this day. The object to be carved is first sketched on the piece of ivory and variety of chisels are used to carve the minutest of details. The tusk is dipped in milk to soften it for easy carving. Delicate carving is done using variety of files. Carving entails systematic scrapping/scooping and chiseling of the materials from the core block.

The object is sketched on the ivory piece by a pencil. The left out portion is cut off with great care and the carving on the sketch is done gently and softly to avoid damage, using a variety of chisels which can do the minutest of work. The surface is first smoothened out by sandpaper, then dipped in methylated spirit with a brush if it is white or if yellow in water mixed with hydrogen peroxide which whitens it.

The object is sketched on the ivory piece by a pencil. The left out portion is cut off with great care and the carving on the sketch is done gently and softly to avoid damage, using a variety of chisels which can do the minutest of work. The surface is first smoothened out by sandpaper, then dipped in methylated spirit with a brush if it is white or if yellow in water mixed with hydrogen peroxide which whitens it.

The skills of ivory carving were refined and are sustained to these days. The object to be carved is sketched on the ivory piece by a pencil. The left out portion is cut off with great care and a variety of chisels are used to do the minutest of work. Sandpaper is then used for smoothening the surface. It is then dipped in methylated sprit with a brush if it is white, or in case yellow it is dipped in water mixed with hydrogen peroxide for its whiteness.

The design is made on the trace paper which is pasted on a cardboard and the templates which are cut by a chisel are placed on the selected wood or ivory pieces. The outline traced on the wood is cut by a saw. The marked position on the main background is scooped and the pieces fixed in it to form the design.
Resources
Basic Material : Raw ivory.
>Colouring Material : Milk.

Basic Material : Raw ivory, milk, sandpaper, methylated spirit, hydrogen peroxide.

Basic Material : Milk, raw ivory

Basic Material : Raw ivory, pencil, variety of chisels, sandpaper, methylated spirit, brush, hydrogen peroxide.

Basic Material : Ivory, chisels, sandpaper, spirit and brush.

Basic Material : Raw ivory, various types of files / drills, bow-saw, sand paper, methylated spirit, pencil, brush, hydrogen peroxide

Basic Material : Tracing paper, cardboard, gum, chisel, wood, ivory pieces, saw
Equipments
Variety of files/drills.

chisels, drills, pencil, brush

variety of files / drills







Artifacts
Jewellery, large jali screens, ornate table lamps, chess-sets, cigarette holders, napkin rings, salt and pepper sets and laughing Buddha

Figurines of Gods, animals, birds, mythological deities, fold motifs, bangle boxes, chessmen, combs, paper cutters, dagger hilts, handles for weapons, thrones, couches, divans, tumblers, jewellery, toys

Models of birds and beasts, mayurpankhi boats, mythological figures, rural scenes, table lamps, powder boxes, napkin rings, paper cutters, costume jewellery, fans, combs, ambari hathi or processional elephant, bullock carts, caskets, book covers, palan quins & frames

Bangles, toys, jewellery boxes, attradanis, figurines of human beings, statues of deities .

Figurines of Gods & Goddesses, chess-boards, cigarette holders, palace doors, thrones, palanquins, chariots, paper cutters, bookmarks, rosaries, ear-studs

combs, bangles, walking sticks , screw fitted and folded, smoking pipes, buttons, cuff links, vermilion pot

panels, trays, peg tables, plates, boxes, powder bowls, cigarette cases, teapoys

Indian Crafts : History of Ivory Craft