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TAGUA

Vegetable Ivory

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A palm like tree which grows to a height of 20 to 30 feet along the pacific tropical regions of South America produce a seed called Tagua (Pronounced: Ta qwa or Tah gwa). It ranges in size from a cherry to a grapefruit size averages about the size of a walnut.

When ripe, the seeds fall to the ground and are gathered to be sun dried from four to eight aditional weeks after which they become extremely hard. The cellular structure is similar to that of elephant ivory but its circular grain differs from the angular grain of the animal ivory making it more dense and resilient. Colombia produces the most of it and plantations have been iniciated to produce a viable product. In terms of texture and color it resembles the finest ivory. The Indians of Colombia along the Magdalena River gave the name "Tagua" and in the coastal area it's called "Anta". The Botanical name is: Phytelephas Macrocarpa Palmae. Its similarity to elephant ivory has been known by craftsman for centuries. It can be very deceptive and is frequently passed as elephant ivory on objects fashioned from it. Being so much like mammal ivory some pieces carved from it are sold at the same price as elephant ivory and in some carvings much more. go up