Friday, October 2, 2009

Horn Craft of Orissa - Part I


Horn craft is practiced by the Oriya tribal people, mainly the Marijas, Santhals and Orans. The horns, taken from the corpses of mainly cows and buffalos are transformed into beautiful artworks that become home decors and a large variety of functional items. Pen stands, paper weights, lamp shades, table lamps, walking sticks and decorative figures of animals and birds are some of the most common products. But the razors, spectacle-frames, cigarette cases that were in vogue till early eighties have slowly disappeared from this craft and also public memory. And in the land of Jagannath how can be a craft be a complete without representing the lord with it!! In keeping with changing times, inspiration for decorative pieces is being drawn from modern art as well. Paralakhemundi and Cuttack are the Mecca of this beautiful craft and Paralakhemundi mainly is synonymous with horn craft around the world.

The history of horn work

The history of how this craft was born is not known precisely. But by most the present form of horn craft is attributed to Rao Sahib K.V.Appa Rao of Paralakhemundi. He was patronized by the kind of Paralakhemundi for his fireworks. Legend has it that during a firework display Appa Rao accidently recognized the plastic properties of horn which was used as a container for his fireworks. Till then horn was used to make functional items like combs by the tribal people. Appa Rao studied the potential that horn had as a medium for art form and then under the patronage of the king set up his workshop with the very best carpenters. And this is how the horn craft of Orissa was born.

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