Friday, 15 February 2013

Shell Shocked - Sepia Saturday

When I saw Alan's prompt this week my first thoughts were of the thousands of servicemen who suffered from shell shock in the First World War but eventually I decided a lighter touch was required.


I don't have a tortoise as a pet and the nearest thing we see, two for the price of one, are:

Two Small Tortoiseshells
You know I like to show photos of dogs but try as I might I could not find one suitable and settled instead for:

Tortoiseshell Cat
(By Rehman Abubakr - CC BY-SA 3.0)

By chance I found out that Horace Walpole (1717-1779) once had a tortoiseshell tabby cat that met an untimely death - it drowned in a goldfish bowl. The poet Thomas Gray, a friend of Walpole, wrote an ode to commemorate the cat which was called Selima. Part of the tribute reads:



Her conscious tail her joy declared;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,
    The velvet of her paws,
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes.
     She saw; and purred applause.


However tortoises and turtles have been exploited by man and their shells used in all sort of applications like this:

Tortoiseshell and Silver Snuffbox - early 18th Century

The plaque is stamped with a portrait of Charles I (1625-1649) based on a medal by John Roettiers of about 1670. The Huguenot John Obrisset worked in London between 1705-28 specialising in horn and tortoiseshell. (This photo was taken as part of Britain Loves Wikipedia at the Victoria and Albert Museum in February 2010 by Valerie McGlinchey - CC BY-SA 2.0).

I'm sure that you will be pleased to confirm that no tortoise came to grief for the next picture I have to show:

Jin (Jurchen) Dynasty Tortoise - Temple of Confucius, Qufu
(By Vmenkov - CC BY-SA 3.0,2.5,2.0 and 1.0)
This stele is in the third pavilion (from the east) of the Thirteen Pavilions in the Temple.

This 'fellow,' much smaller in comparison, had been intent on laying eggs in the grass of my daughter's Michigan home last summer. I can confirm that she was returned safely to the swamp from which she came. Oh and she is not a tortoise at all)

Snapping turtle (11inches long)
I hope I haven't shocked you too much with my take on the theme so I'll sign of with a collection of shells.


I just wonder how old these are.

Please don't forget to check out others' interpretations at Sepia-saturday-164

28 comments:

Peter said...

When I read about all your shell related subjects I thought that your last sentence would refer to your Shell. But I guess that would have been overdoing it a bit :)

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Bob, this was fun! I had never thought of how many different tortoise shells that could be found.

That poor cat. At least she died doing one of her favorite things.

Kathy M.

Rachel Hoyt said...

Fun turtle pictures! I LOVE turtles. :)

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

I'm afraid my calico cats would include the one you have pictured here as one of them. My torties were mainly black with just streaks of painted colors, little flecks in their coats. Other than that, great combo of shells!

Filip and Kristel said...

Fantastic butterfly and shell pictures.

Greetings,
Filip

Marc Latham said...

Thanks for a tort-provoking collection Bob.

Helen Bauch McHargue said...

Such a smirk on the mug of the Jin Dynasty Tortoise. The poem is lovely - "purred applause". How nice to think that is what cats are doing when their motors are running full blast.

Wendy said...

Very clever! I can see why those butterflies are called "Tortoise Shells." Now I'm reminded about a tortoiseshell dresser set that belonged to my grandmother. Shoot, I could have written about that for today instead. Oh well.

barbara and nancy said...

That was a great cat poem. I wonder how many people have written poems to their cats. Probably thousands, don't you think?
Nancy

Jo said...

Love the tortoises/turtles. Didn't know that poem had an actual event in mind.

Boobook said...

This blog is a lovely take on the theme. Fantastic.

Brett Payne said...

Sadly, New Zealand is sadly lacking in butterfly life, and no tortoises either.

Titania said...

I like your subtle ways leading from tortoise to shells; I like the Jin tortoise she looks very wise and just a tiny bit smug. Very enjoyable.

Jackie van Bergen said...

I agree, what a clever take on the theme, great collection of pics.

Hazel Ceej said...

Horace Walpole's cat remind me of "he who lives with the sword..." I didn't know it's called tortoiseshell cat. Enjoyed your take on the prompt.

Alan Burnett said...

As usual, a tour-de-force. I used to keep terrapins when I was younger and foolish. Viscous buggers they were, one they bit your finger they wouldn't let go.

Mike Burnett said...

I Just love the way you take the theme just off the route

Little Nell said...

I've been looking forward to your take on this Bob as I just knew it would be a great mix. A Miscellany, that's the correct word I think.

Postcardy said...

I hate to think of a cat drowning. When I think of "tortoiseshell," I think of tortoiseshell eyeglasses.

Kristin said...

I think that would have been appropriate to do 'shell shocked' but you are right, this was much more cheery.

Karen S. said...

Bob, I am shelled by your charming little twist in your Sepia post this week- so happy you took the happy and nature filled road! Very nice!

barbara and nancy said...

Besides the tortoise (turtle) I wrote about and the one I found and wrote about in a previous post, I also have a tortoiseshell cat and tortoiseshell glasses. I'm just all-tortoised out!
I loved your post and especially the poem and the "purred applause".
Barbara

TICKLEBEAR said...

I'm relieved that you went for a lighter touch. This was a most enjoyable post. Loved that poem...
:)~
HUGZ

Tattered and Lost said...

I loved your take on all of it. And glad to know someone else looks at shells and wonders about how old they might be. We can go to a store and buy some object and figure out where and when it was made and know it probably isn't made to last. Or we can find beautiful stones and shells and ponder their existence.

Joan said...

I do love the unusual minds of fellow Sepians. Always keeps us entertained and widening our scope of thought processes.

Mike Brubaker said...

As expected, a well spun post on the theme, Bob. Tortoiseshell is an interesting color for cats and butterfly. And blogs too.

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

You've certainly given us more food for thought than the obvious ones...it was good to read your variety of perspectives. Love the cat BTW!

tony said...

So Many Tortoises!!! I'm Shell-Shocked! :)
That A Cat Would Drown In A Goldfish Bowl Is Quite Poetic (although I sure the cat itself probably didn't see it that way....)