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Carving art on a bone
Art processing of a bone as that is an ancient kind of decorative art and, perhaps, one of the most interesting. In the XXI-st century it again gains in strength, causing huge interest at collectors and simply provided people, wishing to join this art form.

Craft history

Bone - a material very different in structure and technical possibilities and consequently the extremely attractive. Centuries-old traditions of work with it have allowed Russian masters to save up invaluable experience and to create remarkable products of carved art in which expression and the majestic nature of Russian North, and a life of people occupying this edge, and national motives have found in ornament creation.
In XVII century many prosperous people in Moscow aspired to get for the house canines моржf as a special sort of values, and products from them and from tusks of a mammoth were perceived as luxury goods. Probably, from now on the oral tradition of bylinas included descriptions of furniture of the ships and houses where there are subjects from a bone.
Their functionality was feature of Russian bone subjects. The majority of products had practical application, and only insignificant part served only for a life ornament. Caskets, small chests, trunks, headrests, trunks repeated forms of habitual wooden subjects, differing from them in the sizes and a material. So, the small chest of the end of XVII century is kept in the State Historical museum with the flat cover, cut out of plates of a tusk of a mammoth. Two same boxes are in the Hermitage and Russian museum. Existence of three similar small chests differing in any details, says not only that they are made approximately at a time, but also about creation of products "on the sample". Undoubtedly, such boxes represented the big rarity in a life of XVII century and were accessible to very narrow circle of people.
Walrus and mammoth bone - a fine material for manufacturing of chess: Russian masters cut out them since XVII century. From an extreme antiquity this Indian game was very popular in Russia. Chess turned on lathes or cut out in the form of figures. Turning "abstract" chess differed in the height, the engraved ornament and other details.
Many young masters dreamt to cut out something unusual, to think up unprecedented that all to surprise with the ability. Data on how in the spring of 1759 two young carvers, two brothers, bragged in a tavern that images of tsars - from Ryurik to Elizabeth - in the form of Rodoslovie in gift to the tsarina will cut out have remained, after all the carving of portraits was regarded as the supreme degree of skill. And in many years they managed to execute the conceived.
Carvers were attracted to Moscow and Petersburg with possibility to earn on expensive orders. Masters made bone carved things: chess, a backgammon, sculptures, handles to knifes, incrustation of the weapon, a casket, a cane, bows... Interested persons could get ready things or order to themselves a product on samples.
In last quarter of XVIII century reigning persons by Peter I example have taken a great interest in a turning carving on a bone and by that have entered a fashion on bone products. In meetings of the Hermitage, Pavlovsk memorial estate and other museums carved works of empress Catherine II and grand duchess Maria Fedorovny have remained.
Presently the ancient craft gains in strength, causing interest as gifts to known people.


Tusks of a mammoth, elephant, canine of a walrus and tooth of a cachalot among carvers are called as a noble bone and for a long time are applied to carved works. The noble bone is beautiful, strong, is well processed and perfectly polished. Inherently the noble bone is a usual tooth, only the big size. Thanks to a layered structure on a product surface there is the easy textural drawing reminding a mesh or wavy pattern. Beautiful white colour with zheltovato-pale-yellow, bluish and greenish shades gives bones unusual warmth and decorative effect. A fossil bone of a mammoth extracted, and now extract, in northern areas of our country, elephant brought from abroad. The noble bone was extracted also in the course of hunting for walruses and cachalots. Because of difficulty of extraction of a material of the master always tested its shortage and constantly conducted searches of cheaper and accessible bone. Horns and so-called zevka - a tubular bone of large horned livestock have appeared such material. Using the natural cylindrical form of a bone, carvers skilfully entered in it figures of various animals, and at times the whole sketches on motives of Russian national fairy tales and bylinas. To the one who will want to taste the forces in a carving on a bone, it is recommended zevka, as well giving in to processing and quite accessible material.


In Russia exists four most known centres of a carving on a bone: in the Arkhangelsk area - villages Holmogory and Lomonosovo, in Tyumen - the city of Tobolsk, on Chukotka - settlement Uelen and in Republic Sakha - the city of Yakutsk, and also ancient school to Khotkovo. These centres which have become famous for the masters and products, have passed a long way of development and became original art schools, each of which differs unique handwriting. They combine traditional receptions of processing of a bone and individual handwriting of the master-kostoreza in which his creative thinking is reflected.
The important factor in definition of art advantages of product is skill of its execution. The technics of a carving or an engraving, professionalism with which the smooth, relief or through openwork carving is made, definition of harmony of making parts of a subject, its functionality in connection with decorative processing - all it is included into the general estimation of products of arts and crafts. The carver on a bone should be not only the master owning tools of the craft, but also the artist, the sculptor, precisely and correctly estimating a material from which the original work of art is created.

Holmogorsky carving

The Holmogorsky carving on a bone at the knowing person causes at once in memory of a word - "roads the fish tooth, subtly cuts are cut out". The Holmogorsky technics is distinguished by an openwork air carving and the refined skill of possession of a material. The bone processed by a masterful hand is looked as a jewelry.
The basic part of assortment of products Holmogorsky masters boxes made various, caskets, trays, knifes for paper cutting, glasses, vases, smoking devices, and also various female ornaments. In the work of the master applied various receptions of a carving: relief, volume, through, used an engraving with colour. Holmogorsky artists use both local traditions, and wide traditions of Russian art. Possessing bright figurative thinking, they it is thin feel national motives, skilfully carry out graceful products which become a fine component of Russian arts and crafts.

The Tobolsk school

The Tobolsk art carving on a bone becomes known from the beginning of XVIII century when there were in Tobolsk first carved workshops. In 1721 the Swedish officers taken prisoner during Northern war here have been banished. In punishment they were engaged in different crafts, including a turning carving on a bone - fine-moulded snuffboxes were in demand in the higher circles of the Siberian capital. In 1860th years exiled Poles were engaged in manufacturing of brooches, snuffboxes, hairpins, a blotter, and also crucifixions and images of the Madonna. In 1874 the Siberian workshop of products from a bone of a mammoth of S.I.Oveshkovoj "has opened".
The basic difference of the Tobolsk school is the tiny volume sculpture. The defining composite scheme till now there is a principle of the decision of a sculpture as uniform block. Figures differ the generalised plasticity, the material texture which surface leave smooth, carefully ground comes to light. Northern theme is traditional for the Tobolsk technics.

Uelensky and Yakut carved bone

Uelen - settlement coastal Chukchi and the Asian Eskimos, located on a northeast extremity of Chukotski peninsula on a narrow spit between ocean and an extensive lagoon. Inhabitants of settlement hunt on walruses, seals, whales, were engaged in reindeer breeding. Throughout centuries Chukchi and Eskimos cut out from a walrus canine only those products which used. But since second half XIX century when in Bering strait have appeared "white" whaler, local residents have started to make on an exchange of a figure of polar animals and the whole canines of walruses with the engraved scenes of a life of hunters and reindeer breeders.
In 1920th years уэленцы affairs in поселковой to school have entered teaching косторезного and have created the first on Chukotka косторезную the workshop which has united carvers and engravers. Founders of a masterful steel local residents Тегрынкеу and Вуквутагин. The first carried out the organising functions, the second as the skilful carver, has incurred functions of the art director. In a workshop those who owing to age or a state of health could not participate in sea hunting any more worked, mainly.
Difference of Chukchi technics is small in the sizes the animal sculpture which was perceived Chukchi as an amulet helping with successful hunting and protecting from ferocity of a wild animal and the elements earlier. Unlike North Russian and Japanese carving on a bone, for the Chukchi the integrity of volumes, the image schedule, plasticity of lines is characteristic. Also the Chukchi school is distinguished by tradition of an engraving of canines of the walruses, existing at Chukchi since olden days and leaving the sources in petroglif and ritual drawings. Gradually plots began to display a daily life: scenes of hunting for sea animals, arrival of visitors etc. The Master Engraver almost never repeats the grown fond composition. Drawings on a canine become small, without preliminary sketches. The image on a canine surface is created scratching by a curve needle - the sharp steel tool in the form of a hook. Then in deepenings the black paint is rubbed and thin linear drawing is formed. Each engraved canine - unique product.

Hotkovsky carving

Carving on a bone the ancient Russian national art craft which has received the development in the city of Khotkovo of area Sergievo-Posadskogo of the Moscow area. The Hotkovsky craft is based on traditions of processing of a bone and the firm breeds of a tree existing even in XV-XVII centuries in the Trinity-sergievom a monastery (conventual Amvrosiy and school of Troitsk carvers) and in XIX-XX centuries in Sergiev Posad (a dynasty of masters Hrustachiov, Ziryulnikov). Hotkovsky carvers have developed received in school in Abramtzevo skills, using various receptions of an openwork carving Holmogorsky carvers. In due course Hotkovsky the craft has developed the style close to nature.
In Hotkovsky to the technician it is popular multilayered  openwork which gives diversity of architectural compositions on covers of carved caskets. Powder boxes, rings, brooches, earrings are decorated by a vegetative ornament. The affinity to the monastic spiritual centre allows masters to create crosses and carved icons, Easter eggs. Last years so-called "screens" - with a back relief wall and a sculpture in the foreground are created.

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