MACHE & SHELL
In the hands of Indian craftsmen, even minor raw materials
turn into aesthetic articles. Horn, shola pith, coconut
shell, tortoise shell, conch shell and papier mache
are used to create excellent products.
Comb made out of horn is very common and is made in
a wide range. Some combs are traditional, double sided
with gentle carvings on them, others more decorative
with ivory or mother of pearl inlay. Items like small
animals and birds, toy furniture, buttons, trays, cigarette
cases and lamps are also made.
Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa and Uttar
Pradesh are some of the well-known states for horn work.
Shola is a plant growing wild in marshy water logged
areas. The shola pith has been utilised in Bengal, Orissa
and Assam as art decorations. The artists are said to
have begun with making decorations for the deities from
very early times. The most masterly work is decorating
the big deities at festivals, like Durga for Dussehra
Craftsmen in Tamil Nadu are famous for structurals in
pith products. They make remarkable models of temples
like Rock Temple and famous monuments of India. Pith
flowers are made in Karnataka's sandalwood belt and
in Maharasthra.In Andhra Pradesh, the tortoise shell
(along with ivory) is used for making trinket boxes.
A variety of articles are made of coconut shell. Kerala
produces bowls, vases, roses, tea pots, lamps and many
other items. Bengal produces the most decorative measuring
bowls by hollowing the coconut tree trunk. In Kerala,
coconut pith is used to make animal and human figures,
toys, dolls and Kathakali models.
Conch in India has from time immemorial had a religious
and social significance. Excavations have revealed numerous
conch shell products, including some inlay work requiring
Bengal is known as the home of the conch shell (shankh).
Here, the shell bangle symbolises marriage. Variety
of items like plain white bangles and coloured bangles
are made with this shankh. In Kerala small items of
daily use are made.
Beautiful ritualistic designs are made on shell horn,
the whole conch intact used for religious purposes.
A large variety of items are made with cowries, the
small closed in-shells. It is used to make necklaces
for animals, and for decoration on the lids of trinket
boxes, on hand and shoulder bags, stolls and shawls.
In the Mughal times, the silken surface of papier mache
was found ideal as the ground for miniature painting,
as also for preparing important state documents. A large
variety of utility articles are made by Kashmiri craftsmen.
Some items like bowls and vases are brass lined to widen
the scope of their utility. Elaborate designs are also
done. Madhya Pradesh produces papier mache toys while
Tamil Nadu craftsmen contribute excellent figures which
are remarkably expressive.