Elephant in the room: Ivory

Grogger is Yiddish for rattle. A grogger is used during the Jewish holiday of Purim. In medieval times, its noise was thought to evoke the grinding of Judas’ bones. 

During both world wars, use of a whistle to alert citizens of an impending chemical bomb attack was impossible; gas masks got in the way. Instead, forces twirled groggers as alarms. Today, a grogger is a party noisemaker, a tin toy. Why this one is made from ivory is anybody’s guess. Could be the artist saw a parallel between grinding bones and carving tusks.                       — Diane Richard, writer, January 12, 2017


Image: Two airmen wield gas rattles during an exercise during World War II. Imperial War Museum.

Timed to coincide with the recent announcement by China to halt its commercial trade of ivory, “Elephant in the Room: Ivory” is a series that highlights the use of ivory across various cultures represented in Mia’s collection. As China’s largest consumer, for art and traditional medicine, the announced ban could protect the lives of thousands of elephants a year.