History of Horn Carving

The tradition of horn carving can be traced back to Roman, Medieval, Viking and Alaskan history, where there is well-documented evidence of practical carving of everyday objects. Cups, bowls, spoons, utensils, hair pins, clothes pins and combs that are now made of plastic, were made from horn.  The material came from common domestic animals such as cattle, horses, sheep, pigs and birds, and back in those days, also from hunted animals such as deer, whale, walrus and elephant.

Horn objects were both practical, but also decorative. Working with horn was divided into the practical trade of making everyday, functional items, while there was a separate niche profession dedicated to comb making. This was a distinct craft because of the high level of skill, substantial amount of raw material, and specific toolset required.