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Native American Jewelry and Artifact Information
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Tagua Nut

A tagua nut (also called vegetable ivory) is from the Tagua palm tree (also called ivory nut palm) from South America. The scientific name means "Plant Elephant" which refers to the hard white seeds which resemble elephant ivory. Each fruit pod is covered in a horned husk that is about the size of a grapefruit. Inside there are 4 to 9 seeds the size of a hen's egg.

Tagua is naturally an ivory color and can be toasted to a rich golden brown or deep mocha. It is extremely hard, takes on a high polish and absorbs dyes readily.

Hand made Native American Indian Buffalo fetish carving

Tagua Nut Buffalo Fetish
by Zuni artist Gale Lucio

In the 1920s over 20% of the buttons produced in the US were made of tagua, imported into the US from South America.

Care of tagua includes not getting it wet such as in a shower or swimming pool. Every year or so, buffing with beeswax will enhance is natural shine.

The indigenous people of South America use Tagua to represent the feminine because of its great magnet-like romantic energy. Each member of the tribe was given a tagua pendant to wear around his or her neck. The natives believed that persons wearing tagua would live in harmony and always be loved by their family and friends.

Using Tagua Nuts for carving is ecologically sound. It is a excellent substitute for illegal elephant ivory so prevents elephants from being killed for the ivory in their tusks. And its economic viability provides an alternative to cutting down rainforests for farming. Tagua Palm stands are a valuable sustainable, renewable resource not only for the tagua ivory but as a source of food and construction wood. The nuts are harvested from the ground without any harm to the tree.

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