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A longing for antiquity, hunting history and ivory carving - Erbach Palace (Part 2)

The room is dark. The walls, the ceilings, black. Red paths lead like footbridges through the darkness past display cases in which ivory carvings float. Nothing distracts from the sight of the delicately carved women's bodies, fans, horns and riders. Absolutely nothing distracts, and nor should it. As well as the darkness, there’s an almost ghostly silence broken only by the video messages that can be heard in one room of the museum. Like the whole museum, these raise questions and arouse curiosity about ivory. But the questions are not to be answered at this point, explains Dr Anja Kalinowski. "Here it should only be about the ivory," about this valuable raw material from which figures were once carved, forbidden today but yet without having lost any of its aura, beauty or grace. Here in the second collection in Erbach Palace, where around 300 treasures made of the material are exhibited in the glass showcases, visitors can wonder and marvel at the grandeur and the delicacy. But they should not ask questions - they should just spend time appreciating it.

So, a museum without information? No. It highlights the creativity, the absolute creative drive of the artists who carved these figures. But it is done in such an unfiltered way that the effect is all the more intense, digging through the soft light deep into the brain of the observer. It is an anomaly that one does not expect to find here, hidden behind two rough wooden doors that are a tribute to the animals that supplied the ivory and are meant to represent elephant skin. They are simultaneously the beginning and the end of this collection. Their edges and corners are as smooth as the ivory. The result is astonishing.

Previous article in the series:
A longing for antiquity, hunting history and ivory carving - Erbach Palace (Part 1)

Next article in the series:
A longing for antiquity, hunting history and ivory carving - Erbach Palace (Part 3)

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Published on 21.12.2018

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