Coarse tools and ornaments made of beast bones make up some of the most ancient artifacts in history. Nowadays, the carved bone ware is one of the finest type of Chinese traditional arts and crafts. With Chinese artisan¡¯s skillful workmanship, animal bones turn vivid, solid figurines.
I found a bone carving shop on the first floor of Baigong Handicraft Museum. The showcase displayed various ivory-colored small bone carvings. They were crafted into animal shapes, displaying images such as owl catching a mouse and monkey picking a peach.
The one most attractive to me was carving of a snake raising its long, coiled body. The shop assistant told me that it was made of a hippo¡¯s tooth, and cost 450 yuan.
Most carvings use cattle or camel bone, which are specially processed and cut into pieces before being carved. Due to wildlife protection policies, handicraft masters no longer deal with ivory carvings, and now carve bones exclusively.
According to the shop owner, all carvings are done in-house, with 7 or 8 craftsmen working full time. He also showed me some small, elaborate boxwood carvings of animals like unicorn, dragon, and horse. My favorite was an exquisite crocodile (RMB 50).
What I appreciated
Workmanship, crocodile boxwood carving
What customers appreciate
Fine artifacts, consummate workmanship
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