Coconut Shells and Griffin Eggs

When it comes to wealth, very little has changed over the centuries. Jewellery, works of art and exquisite furniture have filled collections from early times to the current day. In modern times, a list of the items in a collection might be assembled  for insurance purposes. In the past, sometimes a list was required just to know everything that a King had acquired and where it was kept, such as the 1379-80 inventory of King Charles V of France’s collection.[ref] Interpreting Objects and Collections Susan M. Pearce – Psychology Press, 1994 [/ref] Inventories of Noble families collections in the past occasionally reveal strange objects. One thing that was deemed valuable was a drinking cup crafted from the coconut shell. These days you can buy a coconut at the local supermarket, but during the middle ages, to reach Europe, a coconut would have to travel thousands of miles via the trans-Asian silk roads, making it an extremely scarce commodity. [ref] [/ref] Even by the 16th century when the Portuguese were importing coconuts via sea, they were still a rare and expensive object. The shells were fashioned into goblets and decorated with jewels and metalwork. But an even rarer object was… Continue reading