Products of the Sea-Pearls

Products of the Sea-Pearls

Title

  • Products of the Sea-Pearls

Published Date

  • published 1940

Transcript

[page 2]
In the reign of Ptolemy I, of Egypt, pearls were taken from the
Red Sea. The early Phoenicians, those adventurous men of the eastern
Mediterranean, traded in pearls. (3: p. 240) Ages before the Christian
era pearls were used in India. (3: p. 241) Rh'ya, a Chinese dictionary
compiled about 3,000 years ago, mentions pearls as a product of the
empire where they were used as a tribute or tax. (1)

Just when pearls came to be regarded as objects of value is
shrouded in the mists of unwritten history. According to Indian
mythology, Tokrishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishna, searched the
ocean for pearls which he presented to his daughter, Pandaia. Today, the
interior of Buddha's tomb is decorated with pearls. (3: p. 241)

The people of India, China, and Mediterranean countries generally
had many legends about pearls. Throughout these countries it was
commonly believed that pearls were formed from raindrops which had
fallen into the open valves of an oyster. Fantastic as it may seem this same
belief, according to Columbus, was held in the New World where, in his
time, pearl fishing was carried on in the Gulf of Mexico. (3: pp. 240, 241)
This odd belief contained a germ of truth for pearls are formed by an
oyster or a mussel when some foreign object becomes imbedded within its
shell. Scientists have found that almost any foreign-object, a bit of metal,
sand, wood, in fact almost anything which becomes lodged within the
shell, will act as an irritant causing the formation of nacreous, or pearly,
matter. Sometimes it is a living creature, a parasite, which becomes the
irritant. (1)