Nishita Banerjee finds her way through the lanes and bylanes of the old city in search of handicrafts made from bones

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of life in the old city of Lucknow there exists a beautiful form of bone handicrafts.

Lucknow is one of the major centre of this handicraft that is carved into different shapes and size oozing nazakat. It is amazing how different types of art and craft prevail in Lucknow.

This craft dates back to centuries when ornaments and other items were prepared from bones and from the horn of animals.

Ivory tusk is widely renowned for its ornamental purpose but is banned today. Camel bone art existed in Lucknow from long ago and begs to be preserved and promoted. To know about the intricacies of this art form that requires great skill, high degree of concentration and great imagination is a joy.

Awadhi style

Artists practising this craft have mastered dexterity in using miniature tools to create fine pieces of art in a style rooted in Lucknow. Almost every ornament like lamps, scissors, bookmarks, combs and decorative pieces are crafted with a finish rarely found elsewhere.

The camel bone art of Lucknow follows a typical Awadhi style of design also seen in other arts and craft forms that this city is famous for.

Jaali work is predominantly used along with bel and patti. Steps in creating a piece of art on camel bone involves great detail and precision. Once the camel bone is bought from the market it is washed in hydrogen to remove the dullness. It is then cut into different sizes required, followed by designing it with self made tools called tilli.

Jalaluddin Saheb is an expert in creating beautiful artifacts in camel bone. He has been working with this craft for over 25 years and has inherited the craft from his uncle Mohammed Wasim. Jalaluddin Saheb won the Uttar Pradesh State Award for Artisans in 2001 and the National Award in 2009 for his work on a light lamp.

He speaks about his hard work, dedication and devotion to this craft form which helps him rooted in life. He enjoys the attention he attracts through the work he does and his work in camel bone is greatly in demand at fairs at the Surajkund Mela, Lucknow Mahotsav, Dilli Haat and at the Gandhi Shilp Mela.

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