The Intimidating Ivory Carving of Rajasthan

Rajasthan undoubtedly falls among the culturally richest states of India, which is the hub of dazzling arts and crafts. Whether it is lac, stone, leather work or ivory-carving, the desert state never falls short of wonders. This vibrant state has certainly been a delight for the tourists with a knack for heritage and local crafts.

One such craft which has captivated the tourist is Ivory-carving artefacts. It is skilfully done using the tusks of elephants. It is the most delicate craft technique that has flourished under the royal patronage in few historical cities of Rajasthan including Udaipur, Jaipur, Bharatpur and Jodhpur. One can find innumerable products of this craft in the form of tiny delicate ivory figures of Hindu gods and goddesses adorned with minute carvings. Jali-work of lace like intricacy is evident of the excellent level of ivory craftsmanship. The initiation of Ivory carving can be trailed back to more than 4000 years in this country. In fact, evidence of ivory carving is even found in the oldest Vedic scriptures of India. It flourished during the era of ancient and medieval princely states. 

One amazing trait of ivory is that it has a smooth texture and any designs get conveniently carved. But the softness of ivory has its disadvantages too. It makes the carving task difficult for the artisans, as the material is prone to easy damage.

Apart from splendid home décor items for adorning the house, bangles are crafted from ivory as well. The regal and posh hue of ivory white boosted its demand among the aristocrats. Though usually considered a traditional art-form of Rajasthan, ivory-carving has been popular art across the globe since centuries. Several princely capitals once upon a time like Bharatpur, Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Pali used to be the major hubs of this craft. 

The most recent ban however broke hearts of many craft enthusiasts and led to the downfall of the industry. Many expensive artefacts like showpieces, chess pieces, weapon handles, jewelleries, and figurines of Hindu deities are crafted from ivory. Brutality towards elephants has led to the ban of this heritage craft of Ivory carving. But it was probably one of the most spectacular part of Rajasthan’s craft culture.

After the governmental ban on ivory, the artisans shifted to carving crafty products from horn and bone.

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