Bone Work


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After the ban on ivory the artisans moved on to carving artifacts in horn and bone. The articles made include handles for weapons, like swords and daggers, howdahs for riding on elephants, palanquins, thrones, couches, and divans. The other items made are salvers, tumblers, jewellery, hukka bases, and toys carved in the shape of animals, birds, and fish. There are figurines depicting gods and animals, mythological motifs, and folk motifs depicting the intricacy of carving. The other items made are bangle boxes, chessmen, animal figures, combs, and paper cutters, some of which are painted. In the boxes, the jali is intricately cut and perforated, with floral patterns as well as human and animal figures. There is a unique item known as bartana, shaped like a paper knife, which is passed between the forehead and the turban to ease tension.

The main centers for this craft are Jaipur, Ajmer, Bikaner, and Jodhpur. Jodhpur is famous for its bangles of various sizes which cover the whole arm, from the wrist to the shoulder. These bangles are often decorated with glass beads, coloured lace, gold leaf, or simple colour ornamentation. Pieces of seashell are stuck together around bone to from a mosaic-like outer layer. This is mainly used as a decorative item. This craft is mainly practiced in Jodhpur.

The bones are heated in furnaces so that the extra fibers and extension get burnt out; they are then chemically bleached and cut into smooth narrow strips which may be further cut to the desired size by the craftsmen. Although the rest of the process is similar to that of seep ka kaam, bonde is more profitable as there is litter wastage of material and time during the cleaning stage; bone is also together and less liable to chip than mother-of-pearl, thus saving the labor spent in repairing chipped areas on shell surfaces. The henna based antique finish and the imitation Usta ornamentation that are used in shell work are also used for bone objects. The growing popularity of this work is evident in the large increase of artisans in Jodhpur city.