Many years ago, the "old scientist" had a post doctoral fellow who eventually went to Saudi Arabia as a professor of chemistry. He spent 12 years there but returned on many occasions to visit us. Once he came at Christmas and gave us this treasure as a gift.
A Native Indian copper box, hand made and beautifully carved with traditional designs by one Richard Jay Dieks of the Bella Coola tribe in Northern British Columbia. (Click on all the photos to see more detail.)
The lid lifts straight off and you can see that the corners are green with verdigris which is the common name for the green coating or patina formed when copper is exposed to air over time.
Here you can see the detail of the lid and the box itself is lined with a beautiful rich coloured suede.
Inside the box were these two objects which he had bought in the East: the one at the back, a piece of frankincense, the other myrrh. Thus the gold (well copper really but sort of gold coloured), frankincense and myrrh. The gifts which the Magi or Wise Men were said to have brought to lay at the feet of Christ. All of these items were rare, precious and expensive.
We all know what gold is and but what about frankincense?
Frankincense is tapped from the very scraggly but hardy Boswellia tree through slashing the bark and allowing the exuded resins to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called tears. There are numerous species and varieties of frankincense trees, each producing a slightly different type of resin.
It's highly fragrant when burned so used in incense as well as in perfume and aromatherapy. However I never found this frankincense to be very aromatic of itself.
But the myrrh (front) was incredibly fragrant for years, although much less so now. I keep them in separate bags inside the box and I would often open the myrrh and sniff it. And myrrh?
In ancient times it was highly prized in perfumes and incense. In fact it was worth more than its weight in gold and cost five times more than frankincense.Myrrh is a reddish-brown resinous material, the dried sap of the tree Commiphora myrrha, native to Somalia and the eastern parts of Ethiopia.
It is very widely used, both internally and externally in Chinese medicine with many healing properties attributed to it, but in modern Western medicine it is used externally, especially in mouthwashes and toothpastes and in liniments and ointments.
I have always considered this one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received although I don't suppose it's very valuable, but it was a truly thoughtful gift.
I want to apologize for not visiting my blog friends recently. Something occurred that has been keeping me very occupied timewise but I am hoping to be out and about to see you all soon. I have not forgotten you. Please don't give up on me.