West Bengal is famous for the unique form of its arts and crafts. The beauty and uniqueness of these crafts is very difficult to be described in words. One of the most exclusive and most beautiful forms of art practiced in West Bengal comprises of the conch shell craft. It is an extremely sophisticated and delicate craft of West Bengal. Not only are conchsheel crafts beautiful and delicate, they are also considered to be extremely auspicious, as per Hindu mythology. The craft form is also very expensive and cannot be afforded by everybody.
Conchshell craft basically refers to the art of engraving beautiful images on natural shells, obtained from the ocean bed. Each artisan has his own unique pattern of carving the shell. While some craftsmen draw the image of Lord Shiva over the shell, others create entire episodes from the Mahabharata on it. Then, the stories of Lord Krishna also serve as popular themes for engraving the conch shells. It is very difficult to carve a conch shell, taking a minimum of two to three months to design a single shell item.
The conchshell craft is not a new art in Bengal. Due to the state's proximity to the sea, this art has being practiced here for ages. In fact, the women of Bengal have conch shell bangles as a symbol of their marital status. Apart from engraved shells, other conch shell crafts include making items like table lamps, incense holders, ashtrays, vermilion containers, spoons and forks from the shells. In West Bengal, conch shells are also used to make jewelry items, like bangles, armlets, rings, lockets, buttons, hairpins and clips.