Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Ivory Work of Murshidabad

The Ivory and Wood craft industry dates back to the time when the Nawabs of Bengal had their court at Murshidabad. As this industry was fully depen­dent for its prosperity on the support of a luxurious court and wealthy noblemen, it had to face a crisis when the Nawabs lost their power and their court disappeared.
During the early period of the British rule, the performance of the ivory carvers of Murshidabad was also praised by foreigners. During the Exhibition of 1851 in London, a variety of specimens of carving in ivory were sent to different parts of India and these were much admired for their minuteness and elaborate of details. In 1888 again, the Murshidabad carvers were declared to be perhaps the best in India, fully displaying the finish, minuteness and ingenuity characteristic of all true Indian art.
When Berhampore rose into importance as chief military station in the province, the art flourished there for a time but began to wane with the decline of the military importance of the town. If not for the trade depending on the railway communication, this art would have died out long ago. Earlier the ivory carvers used to get large orders from Government for supplying specimens of their work for various exhibitions in England and other European countries, as also in India. But this was later discontinued when arrangements were made to collect the exhibits on loan from noblemen and zamindars, like the Nawab of Murshidabad and the Maharaja of Cossimbazar who were in a position to supply the best specimens under their possession. Mathra, Daulatbazar and Ranshagorgram bordering the city of Murshidabad were once noted for the industry but altogether forgotten in later years owing to decay of the industry.
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