Bone, usually beef or mutton, is sturdy, lightweight and resists all forms of processing: it can be sawn, turned, polished and dyed. In its natural and polished look, it gives a creamy white and can easily replace ivory from elephant tusks.
Thanks to its delicacy and its bright white, the cabinetmaker uses it to emphasize, frame and draw elements of its creation. It allows executing fine details on locks or table legs for instance.
Bone can also be dyed and give rise to new assemblages of materials.
Paleolithic, in France and northern Spain – A bone material appears or develops from Châtelperronian, prehistoric culture dated from 42 000 to 32 000 years ago. During each period of the Upper Paleolithic new types of tools – punches, spearheads, pierced sticks, corners, needles, thrusters, harpoons – are created.
China – Chinese craftsmen and artists have been producing ivory and bone objects for over three thousand years. Ivory was considered a premium material from the Shang Dynasty (1570 BC-1045 BC) and was used for making noble or ritual objects. The production of ivory objects accelerated during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and especially in the early eighteenth century due to exports to Europe. However, the recent ban on the manufacture of ivory objects in China has led to an increase in the production of items made out of bone.
France – XIX. Bone is used in marquetry – buttons, bone nets, backgammon games…