Many of the pieces that are made here at Mushpa + Mensa, use little, medium and larger seeds from the amazon rain-forest, collected specifically from Ecuador.
As a native Ecuadorian, I am able to travel back to my childhood country, bring my lady with me, and browse though many of the outdoor markets that sell these wonderful seeds, which we then take and make our eco-jewelry from.
So what are the three seeds?
The largest of all the seeds is tagua, although in other Latin American countries it can be referred to as vegetable ivory, palm ivory, marfim-vegetal, corozo, or jarina, the seeds all still derive from the same genus of palms: Phytelephas. There as six known species of this palm that thrive from Panama, to Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil and Peru.
Often it is referred to as “eco-ivory” because it has the same characteristics of elephant ivory, as it can be carved very easily as well as dyed with different colors, and it is hard and unbreakable and can be polished beautifully.
The female palm is the one that bears the fruit, which falls from the trees and inside it holds usually 4 individual nuts. The immature fruit is usually sweet and soft, while the mature fruit has transformed into a harder that wood nut covered in a brown shell, which can later be used for multiple projects, like our tagua necklaces!
The second seed we often use is called pambil, and it is another palm from the Ecuadorian rain forest. This palm tree known scientifically as Iriartea deltoidea, which can grow between 20-35 meters tall and can be “easily recognized by the prominent bulge in the center of its trunk, and the stilt roots, which form a dense cone up to 1 m in diameter at the base.” It is also surrounded by a brown shell covering that can be removed and either left naturally as a cream color, or can be dyed as well.
This is the smallest of the seeds we use. It is pronounced ah-s-ah-ee, and it is found in the tropical Amazon rain forest. It has recently been popularized in the United States as a super food for its rich antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and you can find it in juices, body products and supplements.
It has also been used by indigenous tribes for centuries as one of their most important sources of daily nutrition, and has been cultivated also for building materials and artisan crafts using its palm leaves and seeds. It also mostly cultivated as a source for hearts of palm! Delicious.
But here at the Mushpa + Mensa studio, we use it as the third in the trio of our sustainable seed collection.
All of these seeds are free from petroleum based products like many conventional beads, and free from animal cruelty. They are harvested by local communities as a source of income, and their popularization in recent years has allowed for many of these communities to build themselves up from the sustainable sources that the tropical rain-forests of Ecuador provides.
Now that you have a better knowledge of our trio of seeds, take a look at our shop and see what inspires you!