Tortoise Shell Craft


Vishakapatnam in Andhra Pradesh is the main centre for the crafting of tortoise shell, in combination with bone, into trinket boxes. The shell surface of the box is covered with intricate patterns of bone fretwork so that through this perforated lacy surface the orange glow of the shell can be seen. The designs used include fine geometrical patterns, epic figures, and animals fringed by floral patterns. Horns, bone and tortoise shells are also combined to make products at Vishakapatnam and Secunderabad. Bone is also combined with sandalwood, ebony, and tortoise shells to create intricate patterns of fretwork that are mounted or inlaid. The best known products are ornate octagonal jewel boxes with the bone net cover.

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