You must have heard about Indian ivory and Islamic ivory? Do you know what they are? |
Ivory, majorly, is dentin of which an elephant’s tusk is made up of. It is priced for its durability, suitability and most of all, its aesthetic beauty. This is the upper incisor of the Male/Female African and Indian male elephants, that continues to grow from its birth till death. However, female Indian elephants do not possess any tusk.
The teeth of other animals including hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, sperm whale and wrath dog are quite popular but hold low commercial value because of their smaller size. Ivory gained immense popularity in Asian countries in the Medieval era. It was carved in two popular ways and hence gained these names accordingly: Indian ivory and Islamic ivory.
What is the meaning of ivory carving?
Carving or shaping ivory into sculptures, ornaments and decorative items is known as ivory carving. Till date, elephants tusks are the major source of ivory.
Ivory carving is considered as an item of luxury since ancient times. Until about 1900s, ivory was also used to make tools like axe, adz, chisel or saw.
The existence and usage of ivory dates back to the Stone age. Indian ivory is popular from the pre-historic era.
Is ivory soft or hard?
Ivory is of two types: Hard and Soft. The ivory produced from the western half of Africa is generally hard while the ivory produced from Eastern half of the continent is soft. Hard ivory is slender, straighter and a bit darker as compared to the soft one. It has more colour and it is brittle. The soft tusk is white in colour and opaque. It has a somewhat fibrous texture.
Does ivory break easily?
Ivory is durable and it cannot be destroyed and damaged easily. It cannot be burned and even immersing it in water can cause no harm. The properties of tusk are almost similar to hardwood.
The dense material gets polished so beautifully. The commercial use of ivory has shrunk because of its limited supply.
Why is ivory so expensive?
Ivory happens to be quite expensive because of its limited supply. Secondly, it has amazing carving qualities and it is a rare luxury good. Harder ivory is easier to work with. Elephants have to be killed to produce ivory out of them which is illegal. That is why; ivory trade is banned in most of the countries of the world.
How to identify the real ivory?
White bones may appear the same to ivory in terms of their appearance, weight and feel, but the difference can be easily identified. You can use one of these three techniques:
- Ivory is comparatively heavier and denser than a bone. The piece feels solid and heavy. If it feels lightweight, it cannot be ivory.
- Observe the item under black light. It will appear completely white. The synthetic material or replica will absorb light and appear dull.
- The surface of ivory is substantially smooth, hard and durable. If it feels soft or flimsy, it cannot be ivory. Synthetic bones get damaged easily.
- The colour of ivory does not age with time. However, synthetic material may turn yellow.
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