Using bone - Ethical Considerations
Using beef bone, buffalo horn, goat horn, paua - Ethical Considerations. As I am a vegetarian, you may think it’s strange that I choose to carve the bones of animals. There are many reasons for this. This page explains some of them...
The main materials used to create these carvings is beef bone. The shin, (or cannon) bone is the part I use. There are a variety of other materials used as well. For example, I often use pāua shell (known as abalone in other countries) and buffalo horn for eyes.
As a vegetarian and practising Buddhist, you may think it’s strange that I choose to carve the bones of animals. The following explanation may help you understand this.
Nothing has been specifically killed or harmed with the intention of creating this work. The bone is sourced from butchers who process meat regardless of whether I utilize their bone by-products or not. I truly wish for the day when humans choose not to kill animals for their own consumption and pleasure. As such, I stand for the complete non-harm of animals.
I have chosen this traditional art form to give new life to the animal’s remains and transform them into something positive that brings joy to others. The Buddhist view is that it is very rare to obtain a precious human life. It requires an abundance of merit (and specific causes) for this to be possible. Merit arises from practicing virtue and moral discipline. From this we can understand our great fortune to be born human. Only humans have the opportunity to develop their minds spiritually. Although animals are clever in many ways, they cannot practice spiritual instructions.
With the intention of creating objects that bring joy and happiness to others and through having these blessed, I believe that great merit is generated as a result of this activity. With the happiness of the animal in mind, I dedicate any merit, benefit, and enjoyment created from each piece of bone, back to the animal.
As a result of this, I create positive karma on the animal’s behalf so that they can have a more fortunate rebirth in the future. Therefore, this art is extremely meaningful and beneficial to the continuum of the animals whose bones have been transformed through this process.
Directly and indirectly such work becomes a cause that frees these sentient beings from future suffering.
“I pray for every being to be free from all suffering and its causes”
Andrew Doughty - Bonecraft
Bonecraft respects and loves all living beings and strongly supports conservation. Like many other carvers, I support the CITES International Treaty – 1973, protecting wildlife against over-exploitation, and preventing international trade from threatening various species.
This includes the protection for whales. As such, I do not generally sell carvings in materials taken from whale and never from other protected species (such as elephant ivory).
Occasionally I am given some whale bone to work with by mana whenua (power associated with possession, territorial rights and occupation of tribal land), which has been legitimately sourced from naturally occurring events and in line with traditional protocol. (i.e. not hunted).