Ebony – Clarity
Genus: Diospyros – Family: Ebenaceae
Ebony reminds us that clarity is necessary when making decisions that impact the future of generations to come.
Ebony is one of the world’s more prized hardwoods because of its deep black color and dense wood. When polished it takes on a clear, glossy luster that can feel like metal. These unique characteristics have made ebony a premium wood that has been in high demand for centuries.
The genus name Diospyros is derived from the Greek dios (divine) and pyros (grain/fruit), meaning “divine grain”. Only a few of these species produce the desired hardwood known as ebony.
The word “ebony” originated around 3000 BCE when Ancient Egyptians identified a type of African black colored wood as hbny. Hbny, when translated into Greek and Latin is ebenos. When trees were botanically classified, the African black wood that inspired the word “ebony” was identified as “rosewood” or Dalbergia melanoxylon commonly known as African blackwood, which is also a valuable and vulnerable wood in the Fabaceae family.
Ebony is a slow-growing evergreen that needs 70 to 200 years to reach maturity. It is one of 700 species in the genus Diospyros, which also includes persimmon trees.
Gabon ebony Diospyros crassiflora, native to western Africa, produces the darkest wood of the ebony species and barely reaches 30 feet. It is now endangered due to exploitation and over harvesting.
Ceylon ebony Diospyros ebenum, native to India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, was commercially available for centuries but its exportation is now banned. During the 16th and 19th centuries it was used to make ornate furniture and intricately carved doors. Ceylon ebony can grow to be 82 feet tall.
Makassar ebony Diospyros celebica, native to Sulawesi, is a variegated wided-striped wood with black and brown streaks. Makassar ebony can grow to 66 feet tall and is also considered vulnerable.
Ebony has been the wood of choice in the creation of many musical instruments. Piano keys, guitar frets, tuning pegs and violin fingerboards are just a few examples. In 2012 the Gibson Guitar company was raided for using ebony in their guitars, which was a violation of the Lacey Act of 1900, prohibiting the use of threatened woods.
Ebony is beautiful and threatened wood that clearly needs to be preserved for future generations.
Message: Ebony is here to remind us to be current and clear-headed so we can make wise and informed decisions. We are being asked to seek new ways to create beauty and harmony that are sustainable for the long-term. This is a time to bring clarity to our intentions as we focus on the future.
Challenge: Easily clouded by misinformation or misperception. Being stuck while the world around us is changing.
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