Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mandibles - A Natural History Collection

The mandible is the lower jaw of a vertebrate animal. This is perfectly apt since my mandible dropped from sheer wonderment the minute I crossed the threshold of this jam-packed creature emporium, and didn't quite recover until I was several blocks away. I really wanted to shout MANDIBLES from every Cape rooftop. Mandibles can be found up a rickety staircase in the Woodstock Foundry in Cape Town. Julia Jaki is the curator, Philipp Schulz, the taxidermist. Together, the Garden of Earthly Delights abounds. Our very own Deyrolle in Africa. In this jewel of a shop, those of a covetous nature like myself, really can be the proud owner of a simple egg of extreme fragility, the beak of a Bare-Eyed Cockatoo or (in my case) the skull of a baby Nile Crocodile...

Worth noting is the fact that all the birds, monkeys and small mammals come from zoos and bird parks - having died of natural causes - while the skulls, horns and skull-mounts of the larger Ungulata are by-products of South Africa's sustainable game farming industry.

All photographs by Philippa Berrington-Blew.

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