Diversity in Folk Art – Bone Carvings

August 02, 2016

A story written in the early 1900s by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay – “Mahesh” – evidences the love of a poor farmer for his bull.

Today, the era of technology has made it possible to convert the ashes of our beloved animals into crystals and jewellery so that we can hold them in our possession forever in very real ways.

But what about a hundred years ago? What could we have done to hold on to our beloved animals forever?

In that era when majority of the people practiced art as a part of their life in some form or another it is likely that they made something artistic out of the remains of their beloved animals.

And so maybe that is how bones came to be a medium of folk art.

[Until I find out the real story about why bones came to be the medium of art – this conjecture seems logical!]

An example:

This set made of Yak bone (or Kapala) pieces each about 2.5 inches long, in the shape of a phurba were all strung together. This is a set of 14 – perhaps there were more.

Yak bone sculpture, buddhist tantric phurbaYak bone sculpture, buddhist tantric phurba

Yak bone sculpture, buddhist tantric phurba

Such a small piece toe work on!

Here is a video of the process of carving [on chalk but amazing nonetheless] on FB

Besides this, there are many examples of art made of bodily remains: hornbill ivory earrings, deer antler handles for swords, yak bone priest crowns etc.  As if that were not enough, even the skull bones of humans have been used as mediums for art. Kapala – the word used for the human skull – is a common material used for highly decorated ritual bowls and beads in several tantric Buddhist cultures!

Present day sensibilities have moved away from such media and towards less mind-consuming media such as paper and canvas.

And electrons.

And so today we capture our day-to-day memories of our beloved pets and livestock in digital photos that we share with the world on social media! [yes – my Simba has his own facebook page – (clearly I have too much time on my hands )].

 

jm

July 2016

More images of the bone carvings may be seen on wovensouls here.

 

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