Ivory & Baleen Nautical Ex-Voto Walking Cane. England, circa 1850
This unusual ivory handle is 5,5 cm high and 2,5 cm at widest, is carved representing a Ship Figurehead, it is very well carved in a primitive manner without arms her breast has been crushed on order to be positioned at the prow, there is a 14 k. gold collar decorated with punched stars on top of one piece dark-ochre baleen shaft 1,5 cm thick, it is compressed and modeled cylindrical, its construction involved heating, stretching and fussing of the massive baleen in technology that is now long lost. It has a metal ferrule. The O.L. is 89 cm. Her nose has been broken long ago, condition is very good.
An ex-voto is a votive offering to a saint or to a divinity. It is given in fulfillment of a vow. * Wikipedia.
The idea of placing a carving of a living thing at the ship's front also tied in to beliefs that the ship was spiritually a living thing; the figurehead was a representation of the spirit of a ship. Often, the female depicted on the front of the ship was representative of the ship's allegiance or origins; for example, a carving of a queen identified the vessel as loyal to the country of that particular ruler. In an other way it served to indicate the name of the ship in a non-literate society; and always, in the case of naval ships,to demonstrate the wealth and might of the owner. * thinkexist.com
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