Edited By Gregory Hulsman and Caoimhe Whelan
The Tactile Account of Anglo-Saxon Ivory (550–1066): Image, Status, Materiality and Economics (Lyndsey Smith)
← 210 | 211 →LYNDSEY SMITH
The Tactile Account of Anglo-Saxon Ivory (550–1066): Image, Status, Materiality and Economics
Ivory has over the centuries been actively sought, acquired and carved into religious, secular, utilitarian and aesthetic objects for the wealthy. An in-depth investigation of these objects as cultural artefacts within – and moving between – various loci offers an interesting case study of how items can perform various functions over time and relate to and engage with various social and cultural locations. In 1926, Margaret Longhurst stated in her preface to English Ivories that although ‘ivory in its strictest sense is confined to the tusk of an elephant’, historically the term has also included other dentine and skeletal substances. In relation to the period 550–1066, the term ivory not only includes items made from the ‘hard, creamy white modified dentine’ from a tusked mammal such as an elephant or walrus that would normally be utilised for purposes of protection or aggression, but also whalebone,1 taken from any number of the species swimming in the English Channel or North Sea. Regardless of which species a piece of ivory derives from, it is used to reflect not only the portrayal of an image or story but also to project the social stature of an individual or institution; known for its creamy colour, smoothness to the touch, its fine grain and relative ease in carving, as well as its ability to offset other (inset) materials and polychromy, its exotic and luxurious...
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