Bone-carving is an old tradition in India, though ivory - till its use was legally prohibited about two decades ago - was the material most commonly used. As early as the 6th century A.D., Baraha Mihir, an important astronomer and mathematician, also interested in architecture and furniture design, mentions in his treatise on furniture that bedsteads made of timbers beneficial to mankind should preferably have carved ivory floral panels to enhance their beauty (Prahbas Sen, Crafts of West Bengal, Mapin, Ahmedabad, 1994, p.136). The sound of a conch-shell being blown is one of the enduring sounds of prayer in Hindu households and temples; equally enduring are a large number of items that are part of tradition and ritual, or of a decorative ethos that continues. Items as disparate as conch shell bangles (shankha) worn by Bengali brides, ivory figarines and chessmen, and combs made of horn are familiar in every day life.
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