This little African Blackwood cup with the worm holes in it has a Mother-of-Pearl disc inlaid in the bottom. The disc is carved in low relief, a bird (peacock?) under a tree. Came from the lid of an old Chinese silver pillbox. See more notes below photos for more detail on this cup.

  • Materials: African Blackwood
  • Size: 3.25″ x 2.5″
  • Finish: Ren Wax
  • Price: $125 – SOLD
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Additional Photos


A word about African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) for those who care:  Very difficult to work with hand or machine tools, with an extreme blunting effect on cutters. African Blackwood is most often used in turned objects, where it is considered to be among the very finest of all turning woods—capable of holding threads and other intricate details well. When made into clarinet or oboe bodies, the wood is typically processed on metal-working equipment, giving it a reputation as being metal-like in some of its working properties.

That being said…..I buy pieces of this wood that were originally intended for use as musical instrument bells but were found to have minor flaws that make them unsuitable for that use. However, on the up-side, that flawed condition changes the price of the wood from prohibitive to affordable. The result (seen on close examination of the thin-walled cup) is the possible presence of tiny “worm holes” or other aberrations in the wood that to me simply add to the character of the finished piece. See Wabi-sabi here.