Uses and Applications of Tortoiseshell
- Tortoiseshell was widely used in ancient times in the North and in Asia.
- It was used in the manufacture of combs, small boxes, frames, and inlays in furniture.
- Tortoiseshell was also used for spectacles, guitar picks, and knitting needles.
- Manufacturers and consumers were attracted to its beautiful appearance, durability, and warmth against the skin.
- Craftsmen in various Asian countries have perfected the art of working with tortoiseshell.
Availability and Substitutes for Tortoiseshell
- In 1973, the trade of tortoiseshell worldwide was banned under CITES.
- The material was often imitated using stained horn and plastic-like cellulose acetate.
- Synthetic substitutes for tortoiseshell, such as Delrin, have been used for guitar picks.
- Brands like Tortoloid and Tor-tis offer synthetic alternatives to tortoiseshell.
- These substitutes provide similar aesthetics without harming endangered species.
Historical Significance of Tortoiseshell
- Tortoiseshell has been used since ancient times, including in the construction of the ancient Greek lyre.
- Wealthy ancient Romans favored inlaid veneers of tortoiseshell for furniture and small items.
- The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea distinguished between different species of tortoiseshell, with hawksbill being highly regarded.
- André Charles Boulle introduced marquetry combining thin inlays of tortoiseshell with wood and metal, a style known as Boulle work.
- Piqué work, the inlay of precious metals and jewels into tortoiseshell, was popular for luxury objects.
Additional Notes and References
- Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tortoiseshell.
- A 2001 article highlighted the threat to Japanese tradition due to the tortoiseshell ban.
- The book 'Corso di Scienze Naturali a uso delle Scuole Complementari' provides information on tortoiseshell.
- CITES website mentions multilateral agreements for the conservation of hawksbill turtles, a source of tortoiseshell.
- An article in the New York Times discusses the deterioration of cultural treasures made of plastic, including tortoiseshell items.
- Lionel Casson's article 'Periplus Maris Erythraei: Notes on the Text' provides insights into tortoiseshell.
- The book 'Lécaille [Tortoiseshell]' by Lison de Caunes and Jacques Morabito explores the subject in detail.
Tortoiseshell Data Sources