Friday, November 26, 2010

Ivory Carving in Bengal


Ivory carving is one of the oldest crafts in India. Finely carved Ivory pieces recovered from Lothal-Swaraswati Civilization testify to the high degree of perfection achieved by Indian artisans. There are numerous instances in history to show that ivory had been included amongst the legendary merchandise that had made fabulous in the eyes of the old world.

As far as Bengal is concerned the art of ivory carving thrived under the patronage of the  Nawabs of Murshidabad. Archeologycal finds in Pandu Rajar Dhipi includes ivory comb and in the Chandra Ketu Garh a host of ivory bangles, rods and sticks, discs, fragment of ivory cascades  was found. In the Pala period the art of ivory carving reached its peak. Sir George Watt in his "Indian Art at Delhi - 1903" records that Tippera had enjoyed the reputation of being one of the ancient seats of Bengal for the art of ivory carving at the Chittagong Hill Tracts. But the town of Murshidabad emerged as the principal seat of ivory carving in Bengal during the reign of Nawabs.
Khagra & Jiagunj in Murshidabad are the presets of ivory carving of Bengal. The tool used by the artisans are not much changed since the Saraswati Period. These includes files, chisels of various sizes & shapes, wooden mallets and hammers compasses etc. For each work a specific tool has been used and it is only through training and experience that a craftpersons learns to handle these tools with skill and dexterity for producing objects of superb beauty and intricate craftpersonship.
Models of Birds, Beasts, Mayurpankhi Boats, richly decorated mounted elephants(Ambari Elephants), mythological figures, beautiful rural scenes are only a few of wonderful variety of artistic products.
The Sutradhars and Bhaskars are the folk community who are now translated themselves into other carving like shola peath or wood to survive as the ivory trade is banned now.
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