Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I is for IVORY

IVORY has a fascinating and controversial history.  Usually it is associated with jewelry.  In fact I have several small pieces which my husband brought home from his travels many years ago.  I have no idea if they are real ivory, but probably not. 

The topic of ivory, how to identify it and whether it is legal or not is too complicated a subject for me to tackle here. But IVORY is the subject of one of my favorite books: 

KING OF THE CONFESSORS by Thomas Hoving. 

It received rave reviews at its publication in 1981. The cover blurb says it is, "The true story of the incredible search for an incredible treasure..."  "Like a sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark!"

The Los Angeles Times  said, "The most exciting and enriching book I have read in some little while. This is the true story of an art acquisition, written -- quite justifiably -- in the style of a thriller." 


Sorry, this is the best copy of a photo of the cross that I could get, but there are a number of photos in the book which attest to its authenticity.

I would have to agree with their enthusiasm. It is the enthralling story of a young curator from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who is anxious to acquire a mysterious work of art known as the King of the Confessors.  This is a large altar cross dating from the tenth century, that is magnificently carved in walrus ivory, covered with dozens of intricate and delicate figures and worth millions of dollars. Hoving's task is to first establish that the cross exists, and if it does,  find it, obtain it for the museum,  and thereby establish his career for a life time.

If you would like to read a book that is far from "run of the mill", is engrossing and believable, this is well worth reading!   

In fact,  it is time I read it again!

This is my entry for ABC Wednesday, letter I, the popular meme founded by Mrs. Nesbitt and continued by Roger Owen Green.  If you click HERE you will find many other bloggers who participate each week contributing much fascinating information

13 comments:

Wanda said...

Sounds like a really page turner. Maybe I'll try to read it during our week in Tahoe.

Leslie: said...

Is this fiction or non-fiction? Either way, sounds like it's worth a look. Lorne bought me an ivory broche around 1970 or so, but having lost touch with him I guess it got lost in moving & such. I wish I still had it now to show him how much I liked it, but...

Leslie
abcw team

Indrani said...

Good review, makes me eager to catch hold of the book.
Happy WW!

snafu said...

Ivory always makes me think of this...
The tusks which clashed in mighty brawls Of mastodons, are billiard balls.
The sword of Charlemagne the Just
Is Ferric Oxide, known as rust.
The grizzly bear, whose potent hug,
Was feared by all, is now a rug.
Great Caesar's bust is on the shelf,
And I don't feel so well myself.

kaybee said...

Snafu, you are hilarious!

Thanks for this post, Chris...I am going on line right now to see if I can find the book...I love a good mystery!

Roger Owen Green said...

Yes, you've spun an INTRIGUING tale about the book!
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Ann said...

Yes you have me sold on the book!! Sounds very intriguing and such a controversial subject. I might have to look for it.
Ann

Reader Wil said...

This book must be very exciting, and i should like to read it now I read your review of it. Thanks for writing about it.
Wil, ABCW Team.

claude said...

Hi Chris ! I'am back. My computer has been out of use for a couple of weeks.
I do know this book. A lot of elephants have been killed for their ivory, and they are yet.

Abraham Lincoln said...

When I was in Japan, 1953-1956, ivory was being sold in stores or shops like the lacquer ware. It was in most places and was cheap. I bought The Great Buddha and sent it home to my best friend's family. I have a round box for little things that is made from a round piece of a tusk.

Carver said...

Sounds like an interesting book. Carver, ABC WED. Team

photowannabe said...

I do love the look and feel of ivory.
the poachers have certainly decimated beautiful animals because of its worth.
The book sounds fascinating. I may have to read it too.

Kay L. Davies said...

I must keep an eye out for King of the Confessors by Thomas Hoving.
I'll just copy the name and author from this comment, and put it on my computer's desktop. If I put it on the top of my desk, it will get lost!
When I was very young, my mother had a large cameo, it was black with a face on it, and I believed it to be ivory when I was young, but realized later it was too white. There were also seedpearls all around the outer edge of the cameo. I loved it, but one day it got caught in a drawer, and was bent.
Broke the heart of one young girl.
K