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Mother of Pearl Inlay – Art in Wood

September 23, 2016 2 min read

Rediscovering is as enjoyable as discovering.

Maybe more so – because in the second round, the awe of beholding the beauty is compounded by the nostalgia inducing memories of the first discovery and the tinge of guilt that one feels at having forgotten about the past love enhances the reaction!

At least that is how it happened when I rediscovered these artworks that have been with me for over a decade but have until now, been treated like furniture rather than art.

Recently moved into bright surroundings, the art stood out and attracted my attention for long enough for me to notice the scenes that had been drawn out. Across the 8-10 artworks I noticed 3 themes.

The art has been created by shallow-carving figures out of the wood and then using contrasting Mother of Pearl found in oyster shells as inlay material. Sometimes special shells are used  are used as accents to highlight specific features of the figures using a second color of mother-of-pearl.

The craft involves great precision, as the carving of the wood and the shaping of the inlay to be placed within in must be matched precisely.

The scenes naturally reflects the cultural ethos of the period of their creation. Here are some interesting ones:


  1. NATURE Scene with Birds | Easy Chair

Note the shades of glossy pink mother-of-peark used as highlight / accent in this photo taken at an angle:

Other scenes inspired by nature from a sofa set base

img_7062-1 img_7069-1img_7071-2


2. Scenes of MUSICAL PERFORMANCE |  Dining Table



Will have these translated in Singapore soon …

Note the skirt and the sash of these ladies:

ThE angle of this photos makes it clear that the material used in the skirt and the sash is different from the one used in the rest of the figure.

This is abalone shell mother-of-pearl which is rarer and more colorful than that of regular oyster shells. More examples from the same table:


3. Scenes of a TEMPLE OF LEARNING  (Educational Institution) | Sofa Set


a) Teacher & Students

b) Music Lessons

The three on the left appear to be playing musical instruments and the one on the right might be a tutor or a novice observing.

c) Reading Poems or Literature to practice oratory skills

d)  Creating Embroidery Artworks maybe?

If only the details were not lost!

e) Calligraphy Painting on a Scroll

f) Singing maybe?

g) Swordsmanship or fencing or some ninja-thingy?

h) Book Reading Scene on the coordinated Coffee table:


Will keep my eyes open for the other possible themes in such furniture – as we do see several examples (though mostly new ones) in Singapore.

More updates when I find more….



Sept 2016









The post Mother of Pearl Inlay – Art in Wood appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.

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