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Horn Bone Crafts

Discovering the Elegance of Horn Bone Craft: A Deep Dive

Horn bone craft of Odisha is one of its kind in its distinctive look, lustre and old world appeal. This ancient and traditional artwork is practised primarily by the tribal people of Odisha, namely the Santhals, Marijas and Orans. It is an alternative to the ivory artform which has been banned by the government. Contemporary as well as traditional craftsmen use the horn of cows and buffaloes to make pieces of art.

The main challenge faced by the horn bone artisans of Odisha is the procurement of raw materials i.e. animal horns and obtaining the permit to use the same for their craft. Cow and buffalo horns and bones, stag antlers are the most commonly used raw materials. The artists skilfully carve and craft out different items from the strong and solid areas of the horn. The rough surfaces are then chiselled and evened out using stainless steel blades or files. Then the final finish and polishing is done using sandpaper.

The pieces traditionally depicted shapes of animals and birds however nowadays, the modern artists incorporate horn artistry into the making of everyday items as well. Jewellery, showpieces, ashtrays, combs, pen-stands, lamp-shades, idols of worship etc are made from animal horns. Sometimes, Horn bone craft is combined with silver filigree work to make state of the art pieces.