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[Tidbits] Whistle


Should some of you decide–in a moment of utter folly–to look into
the history or origin of whistles… you will soon discover that
Sisyphus had an easy task compared to the one you are about to
undertake. I quote the words of that most famous American
philosopher–whose name escapes me at the moment–who said in
reference to the engagement of seemingly insurmountable tasks:

An so–in heeding the advice of those wiser than I–I shall segue…
as is often my wont… to circa 1600… to Goa… Portugal… a mecca
as it turns out… for the production of Indo-Portuguese jewelry of
the highest standards. Who woulda thunk it… I ask you?

Portuguese goldsmiths who worked and lived in Goa in the early 17th
century catered to an export market geared to the giving of gifts to
European Monarchs in order to curry favoritism or pledge allegiance
to their majesties. They combined Indian techniques with western
parameters and fused gold with rock crystal and gems and produced
the most charming of trinkets.

Among the recipients of these gifts were King George III and Queen
Charlotte. This of course means nothing except as an illustrative
example of the importance of this Portuguese export market.

And so I have a whistle to show you for those who do not know how to
whistle on their own. I tend to think whistling is a lost art… but
for those of you who want to re-learn this fine craft… I suggest
you watch To Have And To Have Not and listen for that moment when
Lauren Bacall gives Humphrey Bogart a lesson by saying to him: “You
know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips
together and… blow.” Anyway… I have this whistle. Rather
magnificent looking… hanging on a triple chain… made of gold with
rock crystal… set with cabochon rubies and sapphires. Rare
documentary evidence would indicate that in was part of the cargo on
board a Portuguese ship bound for Lisbon around March 1628.

The fashion for Indian jewelry became firmly entrenched in the world
of royal fashion when Queen Victoria wore pieces not only because she
had a penchant for the style… but also for political reasons. It
was after she gave a collection of Indian jewelry to her
daughter-in-law–Princess Alexandra–that enameled Indian jewelry
became a highly fashionable and desirable commodity.

All this may all seem a little dry to many of you…
what with facts and dates and such… to you I suggest in order to
combat this dryness you go straight to the nearest bar… order a
Guinness Stout… and proceed to “wet your whistle”.

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at where you
will scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that
says Current Tidbits… and you will see represented on our pages a
magnificent gold whistle of Indo-Portuguese origins.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks. Catch you all
next week. Benjamin Mark

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