Ivory is the Flesh of Minerva…

by forrest fenn

These vignettes from Forrest’s collection are only to share. To see 294 additional pieces  please visit



chinaThis 4 ½ – inch ivory bird was carved by a Chinaman during the Qing Qianlong Dynasty (1711 – 1799). I call her Minerva.



Her body can be wiggled off to reveal a lush basin filled with antique ivory beads. I cannot imagine what skills the carver used when making the two sides fit together so snugly.


The delicately carved feet on her gently feathered under-belly tell me the artist had a lot of class. I’m pretty sure that’s true.


I was once in a small shop in Hong Kong where similar objects were being made. The artist sat on the floor, a hunk of ivory wedged between his feet. A wooden mallet moved adroitly in his hand as a very precisely-formed object began to appear under his chisel. Little flakes of ivory flew all about, cluttering the area. My eyes couldn’t believe such talent.


For many years this little bird has had a peculiar effect on me. I acquired her from a vague acquaintance; a severely mature man whom I had met earlier in Dirty Sally’s Saloon in Ten Sleep, Wyoming. He asked for almost no money and when I told him it wasn’t enough his eyes turned to sugar. “Yes, but it’s special to me and I want it to have a good home.” He may have thought the discussion of money was an affront to his little feathered friend. Me too.

I started writing this story late last night but soon became word weary. So I slept and dreamed about writing the story, which prompted me to arise and finish it. It was all so weird. But it’s finished, and now my mind must consider in whose deserving possession Minerva should next reside. I would entertain your thoughts.

Thanks to calidreamer5 for researching Minerva.