(Last Updated on : 16/10/2012)
Shell crafts are in great demand in India which has religious and social significance. The ornaments made out of shells are favourite with people from all strata of society. Shells are the most colourful and fascinating objects known to man ever other than gems since time immemorial. They served as money, ornaments, and musical instruments, drinking cups, aiding in magical whereabouts and in the making of fine porcelains. Used as symbols in rituals and religious observances, shells have their unending aesthetic uses. Shells such as Giant clam, Green mussel and Oyster support edible shell fishery, a few like Scallop, Clam and Cockle are burnt in kiln to produce edible lime.
Conch Shell Work
The conch shell is considered especially sacred since time immemorial. It is one of the pre- requisites in religious performances and the blowing of the conch has been regarded as auspicious at religious as well as social functions. Its sound is said to symbolize that of the cosmic universe and keeping away the evil forces. Conch ornaments in the old days were very popular. The ancient city of Korkai, on the Indian shore of the Gulf of Mannar, was actually established as the sub-capital of Pandyan King because of the heavy revenues it brought from the selling of conch shell. Excavations have revealed numerous conch shell products, including some inlay work requiring great skill, even buildings were decorated with conch pieces. Bangles and other kinds of ornaments are also made from conches. Shell horn is the whole conch intact used for religious purposes. On this, beautiful ritualistic design are made, mostly floral, sometimes figures, the most popular one being the lotus, which is also symbolic.
Procedure of making Conch Shell
The process of working on the conch is as follows:
* The apex, tip and edges are first cut off with a hammer and the inner dust is cleaned.
* Next, tightly wedged between two bamboo stakes, the shell is placed between the right heel and left toe of the artisan.
* With the aid of saw, the base is cut and from the remaining portion the ring shapes are sliced by a curved saw.
For finishing, holes are sealed with wax and five coloured drops are painted on the joint. The bangles are then put in nitric acid solution and finally polished with a dry cloth. In order to utilize the broken pieces, they are joined together to make them into coloured bangles. The pieces are tied together by an extremely thin tin coil and then coloured. Bangles, bracelets spoons, forks, lockets, costume Jewellery, decorative measuring bowls, and armlets all can be carved out of conch shells.
Tortoise Shell Craft
The tortoise shell has a very limited use. A large number of shell workers, organized as private units with their products extending from cleaned and polished decorative shells to table lamps, ashtrays, jewellery and buttons. A number of finer objects can be made from the polished shells with their pearly shine. Small boxes round and square as well as bangles are made of tortoise shell.
Procedure of Making Tortoise Shell Craft
The apex, tip and edges are first cut off with a hammer and the inner dust is cleaned. Next, tightly wedged between two bamboo stakes, the shell is placed between the right heel and left toe of the artisan. With the help of saw, the base is cut and from the remaining portion the ring shapes are sliced by a curved saw. For finishing, holes are sealed with wax and five coloured drops are painted on the joint. The bangles are then bleached in nitric acid solution and finally polished with a dry cloth. The joining is done with the help of a lac stick, a gum from lac, resin and shell powder. The pieces are tied together by an extremely thin tin coil and then coloured.
The tortoise shell has very limited use. It is used along with ivory. The shell surface of the box is overlaid by net as it were of intricate patterns of ivory fretwork so that only through this perforated lacy surface, one gets the orange glow of the shell. The design consists of fine geometrical patterns or epic figures, or animals fringed by floral edging. The best-known product of shell is a beautiful octagonal jewel box with the ivory net cover aesthetically pleasant and beautiful.
Artifacts made from Tortoise Shell
Bangles, bracelets, spoons, forks, lockets, costume jewellery, decorative measuring bowls, armlets, small boxes, bangles, jewellery, decorative items, table lamps, ashtrays, buttons etc.
Sea Shell Products
The abundance of small and large varieties of shells along the Indian coast has lead to the evolution of the Sea shell craft practised by coastal people. Sea shells have been known to please every human eye with their majestic shapes and colours since ages. The shells are used to produce a variety of products, starting from attractively designed animals to human figures depicting ethnic costumes of various sizes. One can trace existence of this craft since Portuguese rule in Goa
, the centre of craft activities in India. In Portuguese architectures of Goa, one can see doors and windows decorated with sea-shells. In that sense, it can be deduced that the sea shell is one of the original crafts of Goa.
The sea shell products of Goa are known throughout the length and breadth of our country. The items produced by the craftsmen are both utilitarian and decorative. The items include posters, curtains, chandeliers, pot hangers, table lamps and mirror frames etc.
Procedure of making Sea Shell products
The sea shells are to be picked up and collected along the sea-beaches. The shell is generally defiled and some times buried deep in the sand and hence, undergoes the process of cleaning. The shells are cut to desired sizes and shapes and then washed in water. Further cleaning is done with chemicals so as to give the shells, a sparkling and ornamental look. The shells after cleaning are used in making of various products as per the designs and shapes of the items.
Artefacts made from Sea Shell
Posters, chandeliers, curtains, pot hangers, table lamps, table mats, clock and mirror frames.