Crafting legacy: Lucknow's dedication to preserving the ancient art of Bone Carving
Navigating the lively streets of Lucknow on a daily basis, a significant number of residents remain oblivious to the authentic heart of the city. The art, cultural heritage, and the enduring indigenous artistry that characterize the streets of Old Lucknow often go unnoticed by many urban dwellers.
Beyond the bustling streets and contemporary structures of Lucknow, lies a concealed treasure—an endangered traditional craft meticulously preserved by a dedicated group of artisans. Handed down through generations, the art of bone carving involves intricate designs and meticulously crafted pieces, showcasing a rich cultural legacy.
Threads of tradition: Bone Carving's integral role in Awadhi heritage
Originating from a rich historical context, evidence suggests that bone-carved artifacts adorned the courts and residences of Mughal rulers and Nawabs of Awadh. The 19th century witnessed an immense demand for these intricate creations, leading to the establishment of over a hundred workshops in both Lucknow and Barabanki.
In contemporary times, the landscape has evolved, and the demand has shifted towards mass-produced items. Unfortunately, the allure of authentic bone-carved pieces faces challenges as people increasingly opt for readily available alternatives, often overlooking the unique value offered by the original craft due to perceived higher prices.
Crafting beauty from discarded materials
Misconceptions persist among some individuals who wrongly believe that the bone carving craft involves the intentional slaughter of cattle.
In contrast to this misconception, bone carving primarily utilizes discarded buffalo bones—waste products obtained from slaughterhouses and animal incineration facilities. This sustainable practice repurposes byproducts that would otherwise go to waste or find use in various other sectors, including medicine, cosmetics, and even bird feed manufacturing.
Bone Carving: A better alternative to traditional ivory craft?
As for the relevance of the craft, in the 16th century, bone carving formed part of scrimshaw methods in India. Nevertheless, during that era, there was a substantial demand for items crafted from ivory. The association of ivory-crafted products with luxury relegated bone-carved items to a seemingly inferior status.
The ban imposed on tusk trade in 1990 marked a pivotal moment for the craft's resurgence. This prohibition enabled bone carving to thrive briefly, with a shift towards utilizing waste bones to craft items. This approach not only revitalized the craft but also contributed to a reduction in harm inflicted on elephants, which poachers had illegally hunted for their tusks.
Proudly preserving the prehistoric craft of our city
In an increasingly homogenized world, where traditional handicrafts are swiftly supplanted by artificial, polymerized, and machine-made alternatives, Lucknow stands as a proud guardian of its uniqueness through the skilled hands of its dedicated bone carvers.
For us, it is a matter of immense pride to be a part of a city that not only upholds ancient traditions but also actively preserves a myriad of prehistoric crafts, including the intricate art of bone carving.
There's more to come as we delve into the world of bone carving artisans and explore how they've sustained this ancient craft in the modern age. Keep an eye on this space for further insights and updates!