Ebony wood is one of the darkest most beautiful woods in the world. It’s a scarce resource, but one that’s very durable and beautiful. It’s dense feel and unique matte-like shine puts it among the world’s most beautiful resources. Different species can be found in Sri Lanka, India, Africa and Indonesia. Each with their own uniqueness – and yet with very similar properties to the other species. It is one of the only woods that is dense enough to sink in water – and its natural scarcity makes it a precious commodity throughout the world.
The versatile wood itself has a rich and complex history, being used for a number of different purposes. It’s first known use was during the time of the Ancient Egyptians, with ebony wood carvings having been found in Egyptian Tombs. Fast forward a thousand or so years and the durability and density of the wood means it use has been pivotal in the construction of many household items – the most notable of which was a design of cabinet that came out of Antwerp in the 16th century. As well as this, it has been used as an important material by Ebony by Agora in many musical instruments including: black piano and harpsichord keys, violin, viola, mandolin, guitar, double bass, and cello fingerboards, tailpieces, pegs, chin rests, and bow frogs. Many plectra, or guitar picks, are made from this black wood also.
Unfortunately, due to its natural scarcity and high demand, ebony wood has become a somewhat threatened natural asset in the past few decades. It has reached a point where some countries, like Sri Lanka, have declared ebony a protected species and criminalised the selling of ebony logs – by punishment of imprisonment.
It has reached a point where, much like ebony’s counterpart ivory, many underground markets have been made to ensure the continuation of sale – despite the risk of the wood’s extinction. It has gotten so bad that the wood trade in places like Madagascar have been described as the: “equivalent of Africa’s blood diamonds.”
To summarise, while ebony is a beautiful pure wood that creates gorgeous ornaments and instruments, it is a species under threat by overuse and exploitation. Its modern scarcity means that – without proper measures – the wood faces the very real threat of extinction. When purchasing ebony wood always make sure you do so through an authorised, controlled dealer – so you know that the protection of the species is always put first. It would be a shame to see such a beautiful wood go to waste.
Ebony by Agora only trades in sustainable ebony wood, and believe this is the only ebony wood worth displaying.