Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Mystery object, can you help?
I bought this little chap from ebay years ago. The seller had no idea what it was, and I've tried and tried to find out.
He has been very useful during my former career as a primary teacher. One of the hardest tasks is to make children think, so I had regular sessions where I would challenge them to investigate a mystery object.
Early ideas would be limited to "it's wood", but as they got accustomed to the task my groups of 7/8/9/10 year-olds discovered more and more, and learnt to challenge their own (and more easily, each others!) ideas.
A common suggestion was that it as a wine stopper (own up - how many of you were thinking just that?) Certainly the shape looks similar - but would you want bare wood in contact with your wine? How could it be cleaned sufficiently?
Some children suggested it was Chinese, it reminded them of Chinese New Year dragons.
One child said it might slot into the top of a bureau, with a matching creature at the other end. Often we talked about legends and belief systems, as it remnded us of mythical beasts.
Others thought the bottom peg should slot into the top of a banner, or a marching band *stick* (what on earth are those called?)
We often talked about who might have made it. Obviously somebody skilled, somebody who owned (or had access to) decent tools, somebody with leisure time (as it didn't seem to be functional).
And at the end of a lesson, they always wanted to know the "right" answer. The most important lesson of all happened then - because I don't know what it is. Do you?
It's about 6" (15cm) tall including the peg at the bottom and is carved from a single piece of wood. The peg and underneath the base are much more roughly carved. There are decorative swirls (which some thought of as runes) on the base.