Wild Material Which the Tusk Force of Carvers Turned into Rare Beauty; Ivory Has Been Used to Make Everything from Chairs to Knife Handles Ivory Itself Comes from the Tusks of the Elephant, Rhinoceros and Walrus and the Teeth of the Hippopotamus. However, the Ivory Most Often Encountered and Regarded as True Ivory Is Elephant Ivory
IVORY is a medium familiar to mankind from the days when mammoths walked the earth.
This material has been fashioned by man for centuries and can be traced back to Chinese antiquity. Vases were unearthed in Syria in the 1930s that are believed to date from 1400 BC.
Many other finds in Egypt and the tombs of the pharaohs prove that ivory carving had been widespread at this time. This tactile medium was not only used for decorative articles, but also in the production of furniture which has been found in Egyptian tombs.
The Romans and the Greeks are also known to have used ivory as a decorative medium, the Romans using it for figures of deities and the interior decoration of temples. Roman senators were even officially entitled to an ivory seat and sceptre.
Towards the end of the 11th century the use of ivory for the production of furniture and decorative items was tending to disappear and the carvers talents were devoted more to the production of everyday items.
From the 13th century the French took up the gauntlet and ivory became a French art. In the centuries that followed ivory became more available as a result of the great voyages and new geographical discoveries.
Ivory was considered a fine art medium in its own right and used in a multitude of objects, such as knife handles, snuffboxes, fans, shuttles, the heads of walking sticks, flasks etc. Under the French King Louis XV the game of billiards and the billiard table made its appearance, with the use of ivory for the balls and the cues.
It was also at this time that ivory was used for the keys of the popular spinets.
In the 15th century, Dieppe became a centre for the ivory carving industry; guilds existed at this time listing ivory carvers among their ranks. …