CANVASES, CARATS AND CURIOSITIES

Tortoiseshell

2 minute read

Tortoiseshell has been prized for its exotic, almost mystical qualities since antiquity. The Romans and Greeks heralded the tortoise's shell as a symbol of fertility and the Earth. It was associated with Aphrodite and Hermes, deities of love and sexuality. Young women would often wear jewelry made of the tortoiseshell to help increase their chances of finding lasting love. The Chinese soon discovered its thermoplastic properties (meaning it could be molded when heated and maintain its shape when cooled) and began using it as a veneer and inlay in various furnishings. By the 16th century, this costly process made its way to Europe, where tortoiseshell became highly sought by the upper classes and was used to veneer items from small boxes to picture frames. Today, substantial works featuring tortoiseshell are in considerable demand.

FROM THE SAME AUTHOR

WANT MORE BLOGS AND ARTICLES LIKE THIS?

Sign up below to be the first to know about new acquisitions, exhibits, blogs and more.

Back to Top
back to top

Shopping Bag

Your shopping bag is currently empty.