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, Diospyros ebenum, is one of the world’s most prized hardwoods due to its deep black color and dense wood. When polished it can look like metal. Ebony a premium wood that has been in high demand for centuries, it is now endangered.
The genus name Diospyros comes from the Greek words dios (divine) and pyros (food), which includes edible persimmons such as Diospyros Kaki. Only a few of the 700 Diospyros species produce black wood known as ebony. The word “ebony” dates back to 3000 BCE when Ancient Egyptians named a species of African black wood hbnyor ebenos. When African blackwood was classified as rosewood, Dalbergia melanoxylon, it was placed in the Fabaceae (legume) family. Ebony went on to inspire the family name Ebenaceae (persimmon or ebony).
Ebony wood comes from a select group of slow-growing evergreen trees that need 70 to 200 years to reach maturity.
Gabon ebony, Diospyros crassiflora, is native to western Africa. It produces the darkest wood of all the ebony species and barely reaches 30 feet. It is endangered due to exploitation and over harvesting.
Ceylon ebony, Diospyros ebenum, is native to India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. It 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, is native to Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia. It is a variegated wide-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 for many musical instruments such as piano keys, guitar frets, tuning pegs and violin fingerboards. In 2012, the Gibson Guitar Company was raided for using ebony in their guitars. This was seen as a violation of the Lacey Act of 1900, which prohibits 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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