Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rosewood, Olive wood, Apricot, mulberry, Ebony, Orange, apple, pistachio, cypres, citron, walnut, walnut roots, camel bones, mother of pearl

Camel bones!

Six years before Lawrence of Arabia rode into Damascus on a camel (did he?), my Cousin Fern from Missouri was there, buying a desk inlaid with camel bones, mother of pearl, and fruit woods.

She, Fern Owsley Hines (1890–1979, my cousin 3x remvd)––on a world trip with her mother–– jotted down this list, left, of the materials that make up the marquetry desk she bought in Syria, when she was about 22 years old. 

I don't know any more details; I'm not even terribly sure of these few I've set down here. 

Everyone on that side of the family is dead and gone, but you can see the desk's cartouche, below right, reads 

Fern Owsley Hines, left, and her cousin-1x-removed Meribel Covert (–Davis, my grandmother, 1905–1992), 1913
It's a fragile and basically useless object that takes a lot of space in my tiny apartment, but I coveted it as a child when we visited my grandmother, where it lived but couldn't be touched, and I treasure it.

Today I found this fabulously informative article "Wood and Woodworking in Late Ottoman Damascus," by Marcus Milwright,  professor of  Islamic Art & Archaeology at the University of Victoria, that explains how the desk would have been made.
I figured out Fern is my cousin, 3x removed, using this helpful chart: Family Relationship Chart


Zhoen said...

Oh, my. Art on legs. I would have treasured that as well, no matter how small the apartment.

The Crow said...

Oh, it is breathtakingly beautiful! I like Z's "Art on legs." The ankle bend of the legs makes me think it might begin to dance at any moment.

poodletail said...

This is a beautiful thing, Fresca. Yes, The Crow! It wants to dance or to gallop off into the sunrise!

Fresca said...

You'll see, I took up your ideas of the moving desk.

Mel Dawn said...

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