This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Spot the frippet: ivory.

There's been a ban on trade in ivory for a good few years, now, but ivory can still be bought and used legally. It's used to make the white keys on the grandest of grand pianos.

How come?

Well, it isn't ivory from elephants that's used, but ivory from...

...well, guess. An animal that, strangely, is so rare it's no longer threatened.*

There are still plenty of ivory objects around from before the ban came into place. Apart from pianos there are chess pieces:


(these are the Lewis chessmen and they are in fact made of walrus ivory);

and ornaments:

(that's warthog ivory from the collection of Wayne Hepburn)

and jewellery:

Datei:Gewgaws of primitive society.jpg

(these bracelets and anklets are made of hippo ivory).

There's vegetable ivory as well, which is made from the tagua nut.

If you can't spot any of these, there's always the chance of an Ivory Gull for those of you near the North Pole; ivorywood for those of you in Australia; and Ivory Towers for those of you who haven't got much of a clue where you are.

If you can't spot any of those then smile anyway, and expose your ivory gnashers.

Spot the frippet: ivory. This word comes to us from the Old French ivurie, the the Latin ebur, which is related to the Greek word elephas which means elephant.

*Mammoths! They still get turn up quite regularly in the recently unfrozen north.

1 comment:

  1. I never knew that! How fascinating. I wear an elephant ivory bracelet from an elephant that died of old age. I told my daughter that when she was small and she made me write to a special charity and get an amnesty for my bracelet, which I was happy to do.