Rajasthan is considered as one of the richest states in India that boasts of excellent art and craft. Whether it is stone, lac, wood, leather or ivory carving the art and craft industry of Rajasthan is among the best in India. Among the various carvings that can be seen in the state, ivory carving is one of the most difficult, intrinsic yet the most beautiful in the entire lot. Ivory carving is popular all across India and also finds mention in the Vedic scripts as among the noblest crafts.

There are different centres in Rajasthan that specialize in ivory carving. There are various articles prepared from ivory carving such as jewellery, jewellery boxes, powder boxes, artistic decorations, idols of gods and goddess, cufflinks, lamps, brooches, different types of motifs, etc. Ivory carving can also be seen in the different havelis and palaces all around Rajasthan. Udaipur is the most famous for ivory carving especially jewellery and statues. Jaipur, Jodhpur and Bharatpur also have a number of ivory carving centres.

The Jaipur ivory carving centres specialize in household items such as hukka stands/ bases, tumblers, surmadani, pandans of different shapes and artistically designed. Ivory jewellery and work is generally decorated with glass beads, gold leaf, coloured lac and different colourations. In Bikaner traditional ivory decoration can be seen on the wooden doors.


Ivory carving is not new to India; it has been around for over 4000 years. Rajasthan for long has been the centre of ivory carving. Even during the era of princely states, ivory carving was quite popular. After the invasion of Mughals, ivory carving found new designing styles and the art got intensified.

The historic ivory carving and decorations in Rajasthan can be seen in the havelis and palaces in the state. The main use of ivory carving during the historic era was mainly used for artistic and visual appearance. The small town of Pali near Jodhpur has been carving beautiful ivory jewellery for several centuries. Earlier the conical ends of the tusks were especially preserved to design bangles.


Ivory items are carved from elephant tusks. Ivory is a very soft material making it ideal for carving into different designs and shapes. The light weight and the colour of ivory make it very attractive. The texture of ivory is very smooth and whatever design the artist desires can easily be achieved with ivory. Another advantage of ivory carving is that because of its whiteness, it does not need to be cleaned or polished; it looks elegant as it is. The only disadvantage of working with ivory is that it splits easily and is prone to heat and water damage.

The tools used for working on ivory have evolved over the times. The cutting of tusks requires a lot of skill and is carried out with the help of a bone saw. The rough surface of the ivory is smoothened with a filer. Today small drills or fly-cutters are also used for cutting the ivory. The use of ornamental lathe is the latest technique, which can easily be controlled with the help of computers. The item that needs to be carved is first drawn on the ivory piece with a pencil and then the process of carving begins. Various types of chisels are used for carving so that the ivory is not damaged. The surface of the ivory is smoothened with sandpaper. If the ivory piece is white it is rubbed with methylated spirit and if it is yellow it is rubbed with a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide to make it white.

Apart from intricate carving, artists also specialize in designing the surface with floral patterns or images of plants and animals and various geometrical patterns.

Ivory Jewellery

Ivory is considered to be an auspicious ornament in Rajasthan. One can easily post women adorning themselves with ivory jewellery especially bangles. In most of the houses girls are gifted with ivory jewellery before their marriage. In tribal areas married women are supposed to wear ivory bangles. Some women wear these bangles to cover up their whole arms. The ivory bangles are beautified with simple colour patterns or with glass beads. Some artists also use coloured lac or gold leaf for making the ivory bangles look beautiful. The colours used in ivory bangles are usually green or red. Ivory is also used for making pendants, earrings, finger rings, brooches, etc.

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