Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Back from a day of fundraising for the WWF. My local group is selling animal figurines crafted in Ecuador from dried nuts of the Tagua tree. Some of them are quite interesting because you can tell exatly which species they are, in spite of being exotic animals stylized in an unusual way.

This is a very recognizable frigate bird. The dots on the front even remind the sparse feathers seen at the borders of the bird's air sac when it is inflated:

This is especially interesting. The black spots are enough to make me think of an orca immediately, even though the orca pattern is very different from this one. Without the spots it would look like a weird generic whale, but the most well known cetacean with a visible black pattern is the orca, so even a small spot immediately reminds of it. The rounded forehead and the shape of the muzzle also are very similar to an orca's, even thought the proportions of the rest of the body are warped.

A porcupine. I don't know them well enough to tell if it's one species in particular but it's carefully carved to show that the spikes only cover the front part of the body.

The design of this one is just amazing. I wonder how many western artists could come up with such a beautiful stylization of an insect. There were two kind of grasshopper figurines, very similar but with different heads, so again I wouldn't be surprised if they were based on two particular species from Ecuador. They show well that the author is familiar with all sort of critters and is used to observe them closely.

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