Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Teeth, claws, hide and horns

People in olden times knew how to restore health using home remedies prepared from materials sourced from plant, mineral and animal kingdoms.  There were no hospitals and the likes as we have now.  They knew how to prevent or cure several common ailments using their knowledge of several concoctions and formulae.  Thousands of such secrets have vanished with the person that possessed the knowledge as they were not disclosed in most cases, even to their kin, for, they had no full trust. Also they acquired that knowledge secretly from their fore/fathers and were probably taught to keep the secrets to themselves.  Nearly every home had its own 'doctor' as most women also know many simple and sure-shot remedies.

Certain important 'medicinal' stuff [besides the usual items/spices available in the kitchen itself] were procured and kept readily available in many homes to take care of day to day ailments.  Usually it was the older lot who knew how and what to be prepared and administered in a given affliction that bothered a family member.  Some medicinal plants used to be available in their own gardens, but in a small box were some special items like tiger teeth, claws, pieces of deer horns or dried roots from trees.  Unless the knowledge and application is not passed on to newer generations, they will become mere objects. Also their applicability has diminished due to the 'progress' and popularity of medical science.   

All objects shown here are from family heirloom.

The horizontal thing is a piece of 'crude' ivory. It used to be rubbed on a rough stone [as can be made out on its lower side] with a few drops of water to obtain a small quantity of fine paste which was administered with honey or whatever was the practice.  Extreme right is a piece of sandalwood - for making paste in the same way. The other two objects are deer horn pieces, also used to grind into paste for some remedy.  The horn looks to be from a walking stick handle that got separated from the stick!   

Besides the 'traditional medicine items', there happens to be some other things.
This Bison horn mount was probably a gift to my great grandfather from some British officers who hunted game in the British era. 

Which animal had these??

An old [unshaven] deer skin prayer mat for meditation and religious rituals. It is known to increase the magnetic field around the person sitting on it during meditation and also helps as an insulator to the ground.

A very old [unshaven] deer skin wallet!  

A cousin of mine was wearing a necklace pendant which was a pair of tiger claws. I used to get amazed at that.  But another interesting set of heirloom is this.  Tiger claws and teeth. 

In my recent finding from my great grandfather's account book I see that he has purchased these on 16.1.1898, yes, 1898, for six annas.  See picture below.  Claws and teeth were kept with the belief that they ward off any evil.  
A century ago, animals were not killed to make profit like now, but were killed for sport. Hunting was a game until it was banned long later.  The world was cleaner and intents were different.

A Crocodile hide wallet. It belonged to my grand uncle K.M.Narayana, who had his initials KMN inscribed. It is probably from 1920.

It is so beautifully made that one has to admire it even now, despite its age and wear. Soft buckskin inners, high class workmanship!

The lock also works nicely even after nearly a century.

Here is a foldable ivory comb meant for the mustache.  My great grandfather used it in the late 19th century and early 20th century. 

Two more ivory combs. The teeth are very close to each other and is good to remove lice. 

Two toothpicks are on the left but what are those on the right?  They have a small hole at the tip as if that it held something.

My great grandfather used a couple of pens having ivory. 

Two of the above black wood pens are inlaid with ivory in a beautiful pattern. 
Very intricate work.

I must now brush about the beautiful brush you will see now.  The red and white tooth brush of the present day is for comparison. What sort of brush is that, having an ivory handle, I used to wonder in my young age.

I surfed the web for the trademark name printed on the ivory handle - S.Maw Son & Thompson, London.

I visited this link [Click here] and through this, I found some amazing details on this brush! It happens to be a TOOTH BRUSH and so large!  Surely the cows at home did not need to be brushed!!
S.Maw Son and Thompson, London, was a reputed manufacturer of surgical instruments [from 1860] and several other things which I found from this online illustrative book:  Click on the link below for the full book from 1869:

'My brush' was shown on page 139 [circled].  You will be amazed how many types of brushes they made!!
Circled image is the one, No.87

See here, the number 87 and the lovely nylon bristles:

My great grandfather was 32 in 1900 when he was already earning.  He must have bought the brush then but I wonder how long he used this brush or did not use at all, because it looks so new!

Healthcare was so different a century ago!  
Artefacts have hidden stories and unless talked about to the younger generation, the story dies.