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Paul de Souza 7th October 2017 06:09 AM

The Issue of Ivory
I just heard on the BBC a moment ago that the UK is planning a complete ban on ivory. This ban is universal and will also cover antique ivory even if certified to be before 1987.

Some the best keris have ivory ukiran/hulu or buntut. Actually for many quality Peninsular / Sumatra pieces, it is hard to exclude ivory. Also the finest Madura and North Java hilts I have seen are in ivory. Then there are Bali keris too with their ukiran and wrankra. I don't think Solo and Jogja uses much ivory.

Would old work now be destroyed?

How would other forms of "ivory" be affected - Marine, Hippo, Walrus etc. Honestly I can't really tell the difference. (I remember there were threads on different types of ivory but I have not looked them up yet.)

What is your opinion on this?

I hope I am not repeating an old thread. :confused:

colin henshaw 7th October 2017 07:40 AM

Yes, it seems there will be a complete ban on the buying and selling of ivory of any age in the UK, according to the media. With some small exceptions - quote sales to and between museums, musical instruments, items containing only a small amount of ivory, and items of significant historical, cultural or artistic value unquote. This is from the "Daily Telegraph" 6.10.17.

RobertGuy 7th October 2017 07:42 AM

The UK government has entered a consultation period on the issue of ivory sales, so now is the time for UK dealers and collectors to make their voices heard through their local MPs. I don't think there is yet any attempt to require old ivory pieces to be destroyed but the sale of nearly all ivory items would be banned.

David 7th October 2017 08:10 PM

Originally Posted by Paul de Souza
Would old work now be destroyed?

I don't really know much about this new UK ban you are mentioning, but it sounds like it is a ban of ivory commerce. It does not seem like old work with be confiscated and destroyed as far as i can logically determine. If you own ivory in your personally collection it can probably remain there. I doubt the "ivory police" are going to show up at your house and destroy it nor do i suspect that authorities will raid museum collections to do the same. Yes, it does suck if you would like to acquire an ivory keris or sell one from your collection. It does seem ridiculous that ivory that is certified as pre-CITES (or what ever gage they are using to date it) or antique should be affected and hopefully if collectors and dealers make enough of a fuss something can be amended in this ban that would permit the sale of old carved ivory artifacts.

A. G. Maisey 7th October 2017 09:56 PM

Ivory and the attitude of some people towards ivory has become a problem.

This latest UK initiative seems to have been generated by a couple of factors additional to the ever vocal Tree Huggers and so-called "Conservationists".

The UK is now the biggest exporter of legal ivory in the world, and there is ivory laundering activity that appears to be able to take advantage of the legal trade in ivory.

China has already taken action that will eventually see the public ivory market in China collapse.

Then there is the fact that in 2018 the UK will be hosting a very important conference on the illegal wildlife trade. If that conference were to take place in a country that still had a legal domestic trade in ivory, it might be seen by some as a somewhat embarrassing situation.

So, we have a proposal for a total ban on the trade in ivory.

As with all attempted total bans, this ban will only handicap those in the public market place, those who are compelled to abide by the written law.

When any ban is attempted on any thing for which there is still a demand, the result is absolutely foreseeable:- the sale of these banned commodities goes underground, demand increases, prices rise.

Total bans are evidence of total stupidity, stupidity which is perhaps the result of a deficiency of an understanding of history.

The answer to the ivory conundrum lays in effective management, not in ineffective rules and regulations.

Rick 7th October 2017 10:42 PM

Originally Posted by RobertGuy
The UK government has entered a consultation period on the issue of ivory sales, so now is the time for UK dealers and collectors to make their voices heard through their local MPs. I don't think there is yet any attempt to require old ivory pieces to be destroyed but the sale of nearly all ivory items would be banned.

To wit:

mariusgmioc 8th October 2017 07:21 AM

Originally Posted by Rick

This happens when idiocy rules!

We replaced normality and common sense with rules made by idiots and enforced by idiots. And unfortunately this trend can easily be seen in all aspects of our society.

A. G. Maisey 8th October 2017 08:12 AM


I spent a lot of my life ensuring that rules fitting Marius' comments did in fact function effectively.

I've seen the bad joke from the inside.

Sajen 8th October 2017 08:43 AM

Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
This happens when idiocy rules!

We replaced normality and common sense with rules made by idiots and enforced by idiots. And unfortunately this trend can easily be seen in all aspects of our society.

Wise words!

Rick 8th October 2017 04:34 PM

One more thing:

Tim Simmons 8th October 2017 05:16 PM

I could and will agree with all that has been said. However ivory is just another material like plastic except natural. The situation could promote a deeper appreciation of other materials or what we see as art and I have to say it what we believe to be " high end " a ghastly term. Some of the ivory "high end " is not worked in any remarkable art way, the only value is because people have been led to believe in the value. This is now going to change like many fashions and ideas in history. Sorry if it adds to the upset.

Rick 8th October 2017 05:50 PM

Shotgun Laws
Is it ironic that even Mammoth ivory falls under this proscription?

A. G. Maisey 8th October 2017 11:26 PM

You may well be right Tim.

However, ivory has been a part of the Human Experience for tens of thousands of years. I rather feel that an appreciation of ivory is locked firmly into the sub-conscious of many people, and that this inherited attitude crosses the boundaries of culture and society.

Can a momentary change in societal attitudes affect the heritage of the Human Experience?

Personally, I doubt that it can.

There may be a hiatus in the use and appreciation of ivory, a hiatus that will surely come to an end.

When the pendulum swings too far one way, it has nowhere to go except to swing back again, and eventually it comes to rest in the centre.

As this applies to ivory, perhaps during the Colonial Era there was an over-use of ivory, perhaps this overuse continued past the time when it could be supported, the result was that the pendulum swung too far into the range of use. Now we have the probably predictable reaction of well intentioned people, and the pendulum is on the verge of swinging too far into the range of non-use. Eventually that pendulum will commence to swing back to the range of use, and after an even longer period of time it will come to rest within the range of acceptable use.

All things pass, including the idiocy of well intentioned but badly misguided Tree Huggers.

In the meantime, opportunities are being presented for those who are prepared to ignore regulation to increase their wealth.

Total bans do nothing but encourage criminal activity.

Adequate control and management is a better option.

mariusgmioc 9th October 2017 06:54 AM

Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

Total bans do nothing but encourage criminal activity.

Yes David, you are right! Got taken away by the wave!


David 9th October 2017 06:21 PM

Gentlemen, while i do appreciate that this is a trigger subject for all of us who have antique ivory somewhere in our collections and that we all need a moment to vent from time to time on such subjects i would really like to keep any discussion on this subject focussed solely upon it's relationship to keris collecting and completely devoid of political comments or opinions. Thanks!

David 9th October 2017 08:33 PM

Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Yes David, you are right! Got taken away by the wave!


Thanks for your understanding Marius. As we have discussed in the background amongst the moderators, the problem here is that for the most part this IS a political issue, yet i believe it can be discussed based upon facts and logic without digressing into partisan politics or name-calling. I realize the difficulty though. Thanks again!

drac2k 9th October 2017 10:43 PM

When the "Night Watch," or the "Danae," by Rembrandt were slashed with razors, the perpetrators were said to be mad.When the Taliban destroyed
6th-century Buddist statues, they were said to be backward, vandals, and Medieval; so what do we call it when our Governments carry out such acts?
What we are discussing is the destruction of art and history, which I dare say transcends politics.
The sad part of this ban on ivory is that as the governments get more aggressive in seizing the ivory, Rhinos and Elephants are being killed faster than they are being born by the poachers who are realizing higher prices for their ghoulish work; supply and demand.

A. G. Maisey 10th October 2017 01:16 AM


Add to this the fact that there are more and more humans who need land that is also needed by elephants.

Sorry, but the jumbos just gotta go --- or the humans.

Guess who wins.

The problem is that most humans have the desire that elephants will continue to exist in the wild.

This is a many faceted problem, and any many faceted problem requires a suite of appropriate responses in order to ensure the possibility of solution.

This begins with determination of an objective, followed by identification of risks that can interfere with realisation of the objective, and the institution of a management plan that provides the tools to address the risks and then makes use of those tools.

But what do we get?

A knee jerk reaction.

In accordance with David's request, I will not make the appropriate political or anti-social comment at this point:- you all know what that comment is in any case, so I do not need to to make it.

Green 10th October 2017 01:55 AM

may be a stupid question this, but is it difficult to farm elephants?... it may sound ridiculous, but what's the difference from cattle farming?

may be in this way we can satisfy our addiction to ivory.

A. G. Maisey 10th October 2017 04:17 AM

We came to agreement between ourselves that if the true objective of the anti-ivory clan was to ensure the survival of elephants, then the way to achieve that was to give the elephant a commercial value, in other words either farm it, or provide some sort of open range farm where the elephants could live wild until such time as they were ready to be harvested and their commercial worth realised.

But the problem with this idea was also recognised, and that is that elephants are big animals that need a lot of room, and they need land that is also needed by people. Regrettably elephants and people seem to be unable to co-exist within the same area of land.

So the problem perhaps is not the killing of elephants for ivory, but rather the killing of elephants to enable elephant habitat to be successfully used by humans. The ivory is sometimes no more than a by-product of the need for human living space.

If elephants in the wild are to be preserved, then the people who want to preserve them are going to have to pay in order to do so, and since they are big animals, that means paying big amounts of money.

Do they really think they can achieve anything at all with a ban that costs virtually nothing?

So, if it is going to cost money to preserve wild elephants, and make no mistake, eventually it will, why not make the elephant pay for his own preservation? In other words give him a commercial value.

drac2k 10th October 2017 01:28 PM

Will the destruction of historically significant ivory bring a single elephant back; when it does, sign me up!
There are many reasonable short-term solutions that one can think up.
For instance, take the tons of seized ivory that has been taken from poachers, and instead of burning it, catalog it, register it, microchip it and legally sell it with an accompanying certificate to the new owner.They could do the same with beached whales that are now towed out to sea and blown up.
You would see many impoverished African governments with limited resources become very active in the enforcement of poachers, knowing that there was an economic benefit from doing so.We next take all of the money from the registered ivory from around the world and send it back to the African and Asian preserves and poacher enforcement, creating more and better safe spaces for elephants and helping the local economies with jobs; elephants and humans living in harmony, side by side.Room for all.

David 10th October 2017 08:19 PM

Originally Posted by drac2k
...take the tons of seized ivory that has been taken from poachers, and instead of burning it, catalog it, register it, microchip it and legally sell it with an accompanying certificate to the new owner.They could do the same with beached whales that are now towed out to sea and blown up.
You would see many impoverished African governments with limited resources become very active in the enforcement of poachers, knowing that there was an economic benefit from doing so.We next take all of the money from the registered ivory from around the world and send it back to the African and Asian preserves and poacher enforcement, creating more and better safe spaces for elephants and helping the local economies with jobs; elephants and humans living in harmony, side by side.Room for all.

Forgive me Drac, but this makes very little sense to me. How would selling ivory confiscated from poachers encourage African governments to step up their enforcement to stop poaching? If they did and were capable of stopping the killing of elephants for their ivory that would cut off the supply of confiscated ivory that the governments would be selling "legally" in the first place. Without the kill there would be no ivory for the authorities to confiscate. So they would need to allow the killing in order to obtain the confiscated ivory that is funding the program to begin with. Instead all this would do is switch the benefactor of the killing from the poacher to the government. This doesn't help save the elephant.
But yes Drac, the destruction of antique objects of art made of ivory does not, cannot, bring a single elephant back. This is the ONLY issue i see pertinent to us as collectors of antique arms. What we need to be doing here is talking about how we can organize a strong lobby to address these concern with our governments, how we can petition them to understand the absurdity of such ridiculous measures and correct any legislation that would allow for the confiscation and/or destruction of such valuable artist heritage. Destroying this stuff is simply criminal. But so if the continued slaughter of elephants for new ivory.
I could only support commercial "farming" of ivory if it were done so without actually killing the elephant. This would, of course, create many difficulties with wild African elephants. Not that it couldn't be done, but it would be an expensive venture and knowing humans as i do i suspect it would not end with a good outcome for life as an elephant. Yes Alan, i guess in some sense i am one of those "tree huggers" you were talking about. You are undoubtedly correct that as time progresses humans will vie more and more for elephant habitats. We humans are like a cancer on this earth and multiply far beyond our means of sustainable support. Frankly i favor the elephant over us, though surely he is the underdog. The elephant knows how to live within its means (when those means are not constantly removed by man) and live in harmony with nature. We, most obviously, do not.
What is clear to me is that the killing of elephants for ivory (or for habitat for that matter) is morally and criminally abhorrent. The world that was is not the world it is today. The resource of ivory as a material for artistic expression should remain a thing of the past, but at the same time that past must be preserved, not destroyed by government edict. Humans have no more right to kill elephants for the collection of ivory as they do to keep slaves another archaic practice of the past that we know know (hopefully) is morally wrong. As Tim suggests, ivory is simply a material for artistic application. There are other beautiful materials that can be used for future carving. The "addiction" for ivory that drives the continued poaching and trading of the material must be squashed somehow. However i do not believe that the banning and/or destruction of old ivory pieces helps the cause any. What i would rather see is than sustainable ivory farms that set themselves up for all kinds of abuses would be further development and perfection of synthetic ivory materials for present and future carving use. This is well within the reach of science and with further development could supply the market with an endless supply of material for carving.
If we humans do not learn to live sustainably upon the Earth, like the elephant we too will be doomed. If we don't kill ourselves off in nuclear war or the planet doesn't kill off masses of us off in self-defense through pestilence or natural disaster it won't be long before we will simply not have the room or resources to survive. As our population grows to unnecessary proportions our species will continue to destroy itself (there are around 7 billion people now and by 2050 that number will almost reach 10 billion). Then we too will need to commodify ouselves. Soylent Green is people! ;)

A. G. Maisey 10th October 2017 09:35 PM

David, as I was reading your thoughtful post, I thought to myself that rather than get involved in any sort of rambling discussion in respect of our, in some degree, opposing points of view, I would simply post a two word response:- Soylent Green.

You beat me to it.

However, I don't really think it will come to that.

Earth is a living entity:- she looks after herself.

Mankind has only been around for five minutes, but as a group we do have the benefits of logic and reason, something that similar viruses do not possess.

I believe that the passing of time will demonstrate that we are a self-limiting virus. In fact, most viruses are self limiting, in that they either kill the host, or they manage themselves in such a way that the host suffers a persistent, but not life threatening condition.

I rather feel that Mankind will prove to be a member of this second group of viruses, and will persist to use Earth in a way that ensures survival of both Earth and Mankind. But of course this will require vastly different attitudes to the ones that we currently espouse.

The principles that govern all in existence are at their foundations, engineering principles, they are governed by numbers.

The management of any system governed by numbers must employ numbers to ensure effective management of that system.

Earth is both a Living Entity and a System:- She has no tolerance of failure.

Now the question must arise:- do we manage Earth, or is Earth managing us? Perhaps what we are looking towards is a system of integrated management. We do have the tools of Logic and Reason that could accomplish this. However, one thing seems to be certain, for such a system to function, the element of Emotion must be removed from the equation. Emotion is really only a part of Chaos Theory, and as we all know, that depends upon the initial conditions. If we retain that initial condition of Emotion, which links us to the Animal World, then like other animals before us, Mankind will fail.

Our Saviour is Logic, Reason, and Mathematics, all applied by way of a System of Management.

Does Soylent Green have a place in such a system?

Perhaps, but there are other ways, better ways, and if Mankind begins to use a little bit more logic, and considerably less emotion there is a possibility we may be able have our elephants and eat them too:- genetic engineering > mature tuskers in 5 years > pen farmed elephants > ivory in every supermarket > elephant foot umbrella stands on every porch. No different really to the farming of genetically engineered sheep or cattle.

Some people might not like this approach, but as David has so logically demonstrated:- limit Mankind or lose everything --- including our sanity.

So where do we start?

But all this sort of discussion is decidedly Off Topic, so I stop here, except for one parting remark:-
if a smart man sees a steamroller coming down the road, he steps to one side.

drac2k 10th October 2017 11:19 PM

David, You have caught the fulcrum of my argument.The African and Asian law enforcement agencies have limited resources and thus often only offer token enforcement in endangered species protection; this infusion of money would greatly enhance attitudes and efforts.Yes the protection of these animals would seem to be a self-defeating effort as more and more protection would lead to less money, however, these games preserves once established could transition into more effective models and expand to accommodate tourists with cameras and not guns.It could offer jobs to the local inhabitants, some who poach because they have no other means of livelihood.
If that source of revenue isn't sufficient than how about this for another idea; worldwide all governments could offer a 12-month grace period on ivory, where anyone who brings a piece or pieces to the government agency can have that ivory registered with them and microchipped for a fee and afterward it would be legal.When the 12 month period ends all subsequent ivory can be handled in an appropriate way.These funds can be managed and doled out accordingly based on merit and need to the preserves.We would be talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.
In conclusion, let me state that maybe my ideas have flaws, but they are constructive ideas, which I hope beget other and better ideas because bemoaning the demise of noble beasts at the hands of man or crushing ivory just doesn't help.

A. G. Maisey 10th October 2017 11:39 PM

And you, drac, have endorsed my argument for management.

In this matter there is really only one way forward, and it is risk identification + risk control + management.

In essence this seemingly complicated problem is really a relatively simple management problem, all it requires is commitment and money to solve it.

Regrettably both these commodities always seem to be in short supply for anything that is deemed to be either politically unnecessary or commercially unprofitable.

drac2k 11th October 2017 03:14 AM

Wow; maybe world peace really is possible.

A. G. Maisey 11th October 2017 05:36 AM

Of course World Peace is possible --- just nuke everybody who disagrees with one.


David 11th October 2017 03:34 PM

And here we are, as far off-track from discussion of keris as possible, discussing nuclear war. Though admittedly i am as much at fault as any for our diversion you will have noticed in my last post that i also repeatedly call to bring this discussion in towards the particulars that do apply to our specific topic. For instance, if someone knows of petitions or organizations that are lobbying for collectors rights when to comes to antique ivory items i would love to hear about them. If someone can suggest people in specific governments that we can write to to state our cases, please bring that to the forum. I believe we can all save our person world philosophies and political preferences for Facebook or some forum more pertinent to such discussions. Thanks! :)

A. G. Maisey 11th October 2017 10:25 PM

I agree with you completely David. We are most certainly off the topic of keris.

However, when we begin to discuss the topic of ivory, even though that topic may be related in some degree to the topic of keris, we are compelled to involve ourselves in discussion of cultural and societal attitudes and changes to those attitudes. Failure to do so deprives any discussion of ivory in the context of the present day, of any meaning at all.

The people who will make the decisions in respect of ivory are politicians.

Politicians are heavily influenced by the people, both as individuals and as groups, whom they believe sway public opinion.

Politicians make their decisions based upon their own belief of the expected result of any decision, as that result is perceived by their electorate.

In other words politicians constantly count votes.

Do collectors who have an interest in ivory have any political clout at all?

I would suggest not.

Can we expect controls on ivory to become more stringent in the near future?

I believe that we can. I am not alone in this belief.
A very good friend who is a citizen of the USA gifted me his collection of ivory keris hilts because he is in fear of the possibility that possession of ivory in any form will become illegal in the USA in the foreseeable future. My friend is a highly respected authority on SE Asian art, and a very pragmatic person.

David, in an earlier post I mentioned the pendulum theory. This is not my invention, it is an idea that has many applications and has been used widely in many fields for a long time.
The problem with it is that the speed of the pendulum swing is not a part of the equation. Right now the pendulum is still swinging towards the place where it can go no further in that direction. We can expect that it will be a very long time before it starts to swing back again. By that time I venture to say that most, if not all, people reading this will be dead.

So, we are now in the position of the man standing in the middle of the road with a steamroller moving towards him. Our only decision is whether we move to one side and let it go past, or try to stop it and be crushed.

If I lived in some country other than the one I do live in, I would not identify myself by engaging in any discussion of this nature, let alone a discussion that can be read by everybody in the known world. Government bureaucracies have long memories, and the memories of some misguided activists can be even longer.

We all reap the rewards of our own actions.

At the present time, and depending upon a number of factors, including our place of residence, any action taken to try to stop that Ivory Steamroller is very likely to have a negative reward.

Think before acting.

Laowang 12th October 2017 01:22 AM

Just to be clear, the proposed UK ban is in regard to the purchasing and selling of ivory, not the possession of ivory. The US ban is in regard to the purchasing and selling of African ivory, not the possession of African ivory. The burden of proof is on the seller/buyer, which certainly complicates things for people like us, who appreciate antique ivory, as the average customs agent cannot see the difference.

But, there is no discussion within the US about banning the possession of ivory, and to think that the US government, or agents thereof, will raid American homes and confiscate their ivory is sheer paranoia. I own a few ivory keris hilts, and I have no fear of their loss. As a matter of fact, I've purchased a couple off of eBay since the ban was put in place, and have yet to have a customs agent knocking on my door.

It is worth noting that South Africa will soon allow again the farming of black rhinos, which many people fear will exacerbate poaching. To farm rhinos (or elephants) for the purposes of harvesting their horns (or ivory) requires both land and capital; poachers often have neither, but in many parts of the world firearms are comparatively cheap, conservation rangers are scarce and underpaid, and rhinos and elephants can be found in the wild or on national parks, if you're willing to do the work and take the risk. The logic of the CITES agreement is that stopping all trade reduces poaching because you can't launder illegally harvested horn or ivory as legally-farmed horn or ivory. It's not a perfect solution, and undoubtedly has many flaws, but would we prefer a world where rhinos and elephants do not exist outside of zoos?

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