Large Coco de Mer Basket
Seychelles, Indian Ocean
First Half of the 20th Century
The Coco de Mer is the largest seed in the world and unique to only two of the islands of the Seychelles, Praslin and Curieuse. This rarity takes six to seven years to mature and another two to germinate and so is now a protected species.
Until the true source of the nut was discovered in 1768 it was believed by many to grow on a mythical tree at the bottom of the sea; European nobles in the sixteenth century would often have the shells of these nuts, washed up on distant shores, cleaned and decorated with valuable jewels as collectibles for their private galleries.
Sailors who first saw the nut floating in the sea imagined that it resembled a woman’s buttocks which fanciful association is reflected in one of the plant’s archaic botanical names, Lodoicea callipyge; callipyge stems from Greek words meaning ‘beautiful rump’.
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