Tortoiseshell or tortoise shell is a material produced from the shells of the larger species of tortoise and turtle, mainly the hawksbill sea turtle, which is a Critically Endangered species according to the IUCN Red List largely because of its exploitation for this trade. The large size, fine colour and unusual form of the hawksbill's scutes make it especially suitable. The distinctive patterning is referred to in names such as the tortoiseshell cat, several breeds of guinea pig, and the common names of several species of the butterfly genera Nymphalis and Aglais , and some other uses.
Tortoiseshell was widely used from ancient times in the West and in Asia, until the trade was banned in the 1970s. It was used, normally in thin slices or pieces, in the manufacture of a wide variety of items such as combs, small boxes and frames and inlays in furniture (known as Boulle Work carried out by André-Charles Boulle) and other items, frames for spectacles, guitar picks and knitting needles. Despite being expensive, tortoiseshell was attractive to manufacturers and consumers because of its beautiful mottled appearance, its durability, and its organic warmth against the skin.
The initial processing involved separating the layers of the scutes from the animal's carapace by heating, softening the plates by boiling them in salt water and flattening them under a press. Two pieces could be fused by use of a hot iron, but like the earlier stages, great care had to be taken not to lose the colour. Finishing and polishing was done by various techniques mainly in Europe or in the US.Craftsmen in various Asian countries have also perfected this art.
In 1973, the trade of tortoiseshell worldwide was banned under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).The material was already often imitated in stained horn, plastic like cellulose acetate, and other materials, and this continues. The synthetic Delrin has been used especially for guitar picks.
Brands of synthetic substitutes for tortoiseshell include Tortoloid and Tor-tis.
Tortoiseshell has been used since ancient times, and the ancient Greek chelys or lyre often used a whole shell to form its body. Inlaid veneers of tortoiseshell were popular with wealthy ancient Romans for furniture, especially couches for dining, and for small items.The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea , probably a work of the 1st century AD, distinguishes between shell from different species, with that regarded as the best probably the hawksbill.
André Charles Boulle (1642-1732), cabinetmaker to Louis XIV of France introduced or perfected marquetry combining thin inlays of tortoiseshell backed with metal, with woods and metal, a style still called after him. Small luxury objects such as snuff-boxes were decorated in piqué work, inlays of precious metals and jewels into tortoiseshell (or other materials).
Hopes of capturing a large store of tortoiseshell led to the Ngatik massacre by Australian "beachcombers" of up to 50 men of Sapwuahfik in Micronesia in July 1837.
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Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines characterized by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs and acting as a shield. "Turtle" may refer to the order as a whole or to fresh-water and sea-dwelling testudines. The order Testudines includes both extant (living) and extinct species. The earliest known members of this group date from the Middle Jurassic, making turtles one of the oldest reptile groups and a more ancient group than snakes or crocodilians. Of the 356 known species alive today, some are highly endangered.
Marquetry is the art and craft of applying pieces of veneer to a structure to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures. The technique may be applied to case furniture or even seat furniture, to decorative small objects with smooth, veneerable surfaces or to freestanding pictorial panels appreciated in their own right.
Tortoises are reptile species of the family Testudinidae of the order Testudines. They are particularly distinguished from other turtles by being land-dwelling, while many other turtle species are at least partly aquatic. Like other turtles, tortoises have a shell to protect from predation and other threats. The shell in tortoises is generally hard, and like other members of the suborder Cryptodira, they retract their necks and heads directly backwards into the shell to protect them.
Sea turtles, sometimes called marine turtles, are reptiles of the order Testudines and of the suborder Cryptodira. The seven existing species of sea turtles are the green sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, Kemp's ridley sea turtle, olive ridley sea turtle, hawksbill sea turtle, flatback sea turtle, and leatherback sea turtle.
A guitar pick is a plectrum used for guitars. Picks are generally made of one uniform material—such as some kind of plastic, rubber, felt, tortoiseshell, wood, metal, glass, tagua, or stone. They are often shaped in an acute isosceles triangle with the two equal corners rounded and the third corner less rounded. They are used to strum chords or to sound individual notes on a guitar.
The leopard tortoise is a large and attractively marked tortoise found in the savannas of eastern and southern Africa, from Sudan to the southern Cape. It is the only member of the genus Stigmochelys, although in the past it was commonly placed in Geochelone. This tortoise is a grazing species that favors semi-arid, thorny to grassland habitats. In both very hot and very cold weather they may dwell in abandoned fox, jackal, or aardvark holes. Leopard tortoises do not dig other than to make nests in which to lay eggs. Given its propensity for grassland habitats, it grazes extensively upon mixed grasses. It also favors succulents and thistles.
Horn-rimmed glasses are a type of eyeglasses. Originally made out of either horn or tortoise shell, for most of their history they have actually been constructed out of thick plastics designed to imitate those materials. They are characterized by their bold appearance on the wearer's face, in contrast to metal frames, which appear less pronounced.
The yellow-spotted Amazon river turtle or yellow-spotted river turtle is one of the largest South American river turtles. It can grow up to 45 cm long and weigh up to 8 kg. This species can be recognized by its black or brown oval carapace with distinctive low keels on the second and third scutes. Yellow spots on the side of its head give this species its common name. These spots are most prominent in juveniles and fade with age. Females can be up to twice the size of males.
André-Charles Boulle, le joailler du meuble, is the most famous French cabinetmaker and the preeminent artist in the field of marquetry, also known as "Inlay". Boulle was "the most remarkable of all French cabinetmakers". He was recommended to Louis XIV of France, the "Sun King", by Jean-Baptiste Colbert as being “the most skilled craftsman in his profession”. Over the centuries since his death, his name and that of his family has been given to the art he perfected, the inlay of tortoiseshell, brass and pewter into ebony. It is known as Boulle Work and the École Boulle, a college of fine arts and crafts and applied arts in Paris, today bears testimony to his enduring art, the Art of inlay.
The red-footed tortoise is a species of tortoise from northern South America. These medium-sized tortoises generally average 30 cm (12 in) as adults, but can reach over 40 cm (16 in). They have dark-colored, loaf-shaped carapaces with a lighter patch in the middle of each scute, and dark limbs with brightly colored scales that range from pale yellow to dark red. Recognized differences are seen between red-footed tortoises from different regions. They are closely related to the yellow-footed tortoise from the Amazon Basin. They are popularly kept as pets, and over-collection has caused them to be vulnerable to extinction.
Turtling is the hunting of turtles. Turtling has been a part of human culture since as far back as the middle of the first millennium B.C., where sea turtles such as the Hawksbill sea turtle were eaten as delicacies in countries such as China. While consumption and hunting of turtles is less common than it was in the time of our ancestors, this practice is still a part of communities throughout the globe, whether done legally or illegally.
Delrex is a plastic that is used to replace tortoiseshell since the trade of tortoiseshell was banned in the late 1970s.
Inlay covers a range of techniques in sculpture and the decorative arts for inserting pieces of contrasting, often coloured materials into depressions in a base object to form ornament or pictures that normally are flush with the matrix. A great range of materials have been used both for the base or matrix and for the inlays inserted into it. Inlay is commonly used in the production of decorative furniture, where pieces of coloured wood, precious metals or even diamonds are inserted into the surface of the carcass using various matrices including clearcoats and varnishes. Lutherie inlays are frequently used as decoration and marking on musical instruments, particularly the smaller strings.
The yellow-footed tortoise, also known as the Brazilian giant tortoise, commonly referred to as the Brazilian giant turtle, or more commonly, the big turtle, is a species of tortoise in the family Testudinidae and is closely related to the red-footed tortoise. It is found in the Amazon Basin of South America.
The turtle shell is a highly complicated shield for the ventral and dorsal parts of turtles, tortoises and terrapins, completely enclosing all the vital organs of the turtle and in some cases even the head. It is constructed of modified bony elements such as the ribs, parts of the pelvis and other bones found in most reptiles. The bone of the shell consists of both skeletal and dermal bone, showing that the complete enclosure of the shell probably evolved by including dermal armor into the rib cage.
The hawksbill sea turtle is a Critically Endangered sea turtle belonging to the family Cheloniidae. It is the only extant species in the genus Eretmochelys. The species has a worldwide distribution, with Atlantic and Indo-Pacific subspecies—E. i. imbricata and E. i. bissa, respectively.
Mosylon, also known as Mosullon, was an ancient proto-Somali trading center on or near the site that later became the city of Bosaso.
Tortoiseshell is a material produced from the shells of species of tortoise and turtle, mainly the hawksbill sea turtle.
The bow frog is the end part of a stringed musical instrument's bow that encloses the mechanism responsible for tightening and holding the bow hair ribbon. Most of the bow frogs used in today's classical bows are made of ebony; some synthetic bows have frogs made with materials that imitate ebony, while Baroque bows use frogs made with various woods.
Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles a year are accidentally caught in shrimp trawl nets, on longline hooks and in fishing gill-nets. Sea turtles need to reach the surface to breathe, and therefore many drown once caught. Loggerhead and hawksbill turtles are particularly vulnerable. Nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as Endangered. They are killed for their eggs, meat, skin and shells. They also face habitat destruction. Climate change has an impact on turtle nesting sites. As fishing activity expands, this threat is more of a problem.