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Mystery material.. Quiz

Discussions and analysis of Elephant Ivory
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Postby Clive » Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:12 pm

What raw material is this? :)




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Postby OldKappa » Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:57 pm

I'm no expert, but such an irregular shape would point me towards a cancerous growth of ...?

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Postby Clive » Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:07 pm

Not amber or ginger... Old Kappa is on the right track. :)

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Postby Clive » Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:04 pm

Nope.. but we have the answer now on the Iron Brush so I'll tell. This is in fact a section of diseased infected Asian Elephant Ivory! I've been on the look out for an example following a difficult material identification puzzle we had on here many month ago.

Fascinating stuff... a very hard dentin with strange swirls and no sign of anything like Schreger lines. A netsuke carved out of this would defy all that we assume is uniquely characteristic of elephant ivory.

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Postby Vlad » Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:35 pm

Clive, thank you for posting. Always wanted to see one. I would've never guessed...

Here is a description, which I think it would somewhat fit:

Elephant pearl (= elephant tusk pearl = ivory pearl = gaja mini = gaja-muthu) - roughly spherical masses, made up of concentric layers of dentine deposited on a "foreign body" nuclei, formed within some elephants' tusks; these "pearls," which are noted here only because they are marketed as ivory pearls some places, are usually found in tusks of elephants who have been sick or have damaged tusks. Of interest here is the fact that these, apparently because they are revered by some elements of Sri Lankan and Indian groups, have been simulated; and, at least some of the simulants have been shown to have been "fashioned from the molar tooth of, most likely, an Asian elephant." (Singbamroong, 2008)
"Man sieht nur, was man weiß" - "One sees only what one knows". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

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Postby chonchon » Fri Aug 27, 2010 5:02 pm

First for me.

Great sleuthing addition for the mystery materials section. 8-)

Size is something.

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Postby Norman » Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:28 pm

Additional history: I appraised a collection about 20 years ago that was formed by purchases in the early-mid 1970s, from a Chicago auction house with a dubious reputation. The collection had several dozen of these oddly, and similarly, marked 'ivory' netsuke. They were big and bold, and new at the time. So I assume there was a factory in Asia turning these out in large numbers at that time.
However, when I read "fashioned from the molar tooth of, most likely, an Asian elephant," I wonder about it. The academic quote suggests scientific support, but it raises an old question - for every elephant tusk, there are several molars. Why are there so few molar carvings of any kind to be found? I think the simple answer is that elephant molars flake and shale and dissintegrate, unless they are stabilized with some (lots of?) glue.

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