Friday, August 15, 2008

Unique carved wood tapir from Colombia

UPDATE: There were no bids on our auction, but you can now purchase the tapir online from our new web site. Check out the tapir and other interesting palo de sangre wood carvings from Colombia!

Original post:

Dear Tapir Fans and Friends,

This charming tapir was among the items we recently purchased from Colombia. Hand carved of palo de sangre wood (bloodwood) it is definitely one of a kind. There were two carved tapirs in the current shipment, and the second was of a completely different shape - it also had a broken foot, which is one of the hazards of importing crafts. I have never seen another palo de sangre tapir that looks like this one. Every shipment is checked thoroughly for drugs by US customs when it comes into the country through Miami, but don't get me started on what they do to the objects and how they repack the boxes! Suffice it to say that many of the items are damaged. We are always thrilled when a beautiful piece such as this one comes to us completely unharmed.

THE TAPIR: This lowland tapir was carved by an artisan who lives in the lower elevations of Colombia near the Amazon basin. It measures 6 inches (15 cm) long and stands 2 1/2 inches (6.5 cm) tall. See below for more information on this beautiful red wood.

THE AUCTION: August 15 to August 25, 2008

Submit your highest bid by e-mail or phone (503-325-3179 - Oregon, USA) along with your contact info: Name, location, e-mail address and phone number(s). We do not need payment info at this time. At midnight (Pacific Time, USA), we'll look at all bids. The winner will be the highest bidder, and the price will be $5.00 over the top price of the 2nd highest bidder. Bidding starts at $50.00.

Please be prepared to pay by credit card at the time you win the auction. If we already know you from previous purchases, we may accept a check or money order. If we cannot contact you within 3 days, we will offer the tapir to the next highest bidder. If you know you will be out of contact at the time the auction is over, please let us know and we'll keep the tapir for when you get back.

We'll ship anywhere in the world. Shipping will be $6.00 in the US for Priority mail, and $2.00 over the actual rate charged by the post office in other countries. This usually works out to about $10.00 to $12.00 US. If you want expedited shiping or special services, we can do that at the time of shipping.


Palo de sangre is the Spanish name for this rich red wood. The English translation is "bloodwood." It is the heartwood of the trees Brosimum paraense and Brosimum rubescens. The sapwood is yellowish-white. According to Wikipedia, "Palo de sangre has a fine texture and takes a high polish. The wood is very hard and has a tendency to blunt tools. The wood is used in decorative woodworking and woodturning . . . . The Nature Conservancy considers this tree to be "secure within its native range." Other sources give additional names: muirapiranga, satiné rubane, cacique, and cardinalwood (due to its red color). It keeps its color, and does not turn brown with age like some highly colored woods.

Palo de sangre is carved into wonderfully attractive and charming animal figures in Colombia and other regions of tropical America. The bright red color is a natural property of the wood, as is the highly finished shine on the surface (evidenced by the reflected light in the photo). These animals are not varnished, stained, or painted, but come to you in their spectacular natural finish. Fortunately, the artisans who carve them are not restricted by any means or conventions to a particular template, so you get the benefit of each individual's vision and creativity. The wood also varies somewhat from one carving to the next as far as natural color, grain, and markings. The motifs themselves are repeated (crocodiles and manatees are common; tapirs are less common), although availability depends on circumstances.

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