Tagua

Tagua ("tah-gwa"), also called ivory nut or vegetable ivory, are primarily the nuts of the Tagua palm tree (Phytelephas macrocarpa) that grow in tropical rainforests. Other palms of the same subfamily also produce ivory nuts. The size of the seed varies from the size of a cherry to a tennis ball, the average size being that of a plum. The nut has a dark brown, bark-like skin. The natural color of tagua is ivory white and resembles the finest animal ivory in texture and color but can vary to an ivory-amber. It is close grain and very hard, but is more dense and resilient than that of elephant ivory and similar in durability. There is usually a void in the center of the nut. When ripe the nuts fall to the ground and are gathered and dried from four to eight weeks after which they become extremely hard. The nut is not toxic.

The tagua carvings of the Wounaan and the Emberá Indians of the Darien Province of eastern Panama (already well know for their fine baskets and cocobolo woodcarvings) have reached new levels of imagination, form and color in recent years. Mike is now offering quality tagua carvings to the Internet community. The taguas shown below were carved and painted by several brothers from the Wounaan group of the Darien, Panama. They only carve what they know; the animals that live in the forests and jungle around them. One-nut taguas measure about two inches (50 mm) in the longer direction. Multiple-nut taguas are larger.