• Gowri Lakshmi

The Art of Conch Shell Carving

Conch shell carving is the traditional art form of Bishnupur and it takes months of immense labor by artisans and craftsmen from the Sankha Banik community to design and carve various Hindu mythological characters of Lord Vishnu to produce a stylish conch shell.

Conch shell making is thus an enlivening artistic endeavour. They are the inhabitants of Bishnupur, Saaspur, Hatgram and Rampu areas of West Bengal..

The liking for conch has been since the Vedic age when the human mind understood an absolute energy for a mental elevation. The Conch shell is a necessary instrument during ceremonies in many countries and infrequently it is blown to drive away insidious spirits. Bankura, is a great centre of conch carving in India especially for the polish work. These conch carving artists have spent their entire lives making amazing images on the shells. Surprisingly only the basic tools like etches, hammer, processor etc are used depending on the complexities of the design/patterns.

In Hindu folklore, the conch shell is a sacrosanct symbol of Vishnu. In view of its course of curling, the shankha is of two categories. The most common is the Dakshinavarta shankha, and is associated with goddess Lakshmi, This kind of shankha is viewed as ideal for restorative purpose. It is found in the Indian Ocean. This sort of shankha has three to seven edges apparent on the edge of the opening and on the columella and has a unique interior construction. The Varaha Purana tells that washing with the Dakshinavarta shankha liberates one from difficulties.

Conch shell is adulated in Hindu sacred writings as being associated with fame, longevity and long life span. The shankh, as an image of water, is related to female fecundity and snakes. The shankha is the state emblem of Kerala and was likewise the public insignias of the Indian august territory of Travancore, and the Kingdom of Cochin. The Conch shell is one of the eight propitious images of Buddhism, the Ashtamangala. The sound of the conch shell represents the holy Om sound. Vishnu holding the conch is addressed as the lord of sound. Conch Shell was likewise utilized by sikh champions before they began the conflict.

The Conch Shell is blown at the hour of dusk or godhuli time in Hindu sanctuaries and homes, particularly at the time of the aarti. Conch shell is utilized as a material for making bangles, arm bands and other objects. Even today a powder produced using the shell material is utilized in ayurveda as a treatment for stomach ailments.

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