Scientific name: Diospyros EbenumOther names and appearance: Indian Ebony, Ceylon Ebony, Makassar EbonyEbony is known for its heavy and black, fine grained heartwood with sometimes irregular terra cotta color lines. Bycontrast, the sapwood is white. It take about 20 years for an Ebony tree to become black. Due to the heaviness of thewood, the sapwood is removed in the forest and not harvested. Makassar Ebony trees are small to medium sizedevergreens, reaching maximum 25 m tall. Ebony has a 2 cm small berry fruit, similar to a small persimmon.Ebony is the worlds most intensely black wood. Combined with its heavy density (1.400 KG/m³) and its ability to polishvery smoothly, Ebony has become valuable as an ornamental wood. Ebony was the first woodspecies to be given aname. The nameis derived from ancient Egyptian hbny. During the time of the Pharao’s, ebony was used forsarcofage decoration and the famous black lines on Tutanchamons golden mask are made of ebony. Via the Greekand along the Latin Ebenum, the middle English Ebony became common. Pharao Sobekhotep receiving Ebony logs (British Museum)
Modern use of Ebony is restricted to small sized musical instruments (piano and harpsichord keys, violin and guitarfinger boards), chess pieces (Holy Wood for the whites), lacemaking bobbins and jewelry.
thDuring the 17 century, the Dutch, at that time the largest commercial fleet in the world, harvested Makassar Ebonyin the area of Port Rotterdam, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Makassar, the locals name for Port Rotterdam, became thename for a particulary beautiful kind of Ebony wood. Initially the wood was for shipbuilding. Its strength andhardness were a distinguishing competitive advantage to the Dutch fleet.Few decades later, also the French started systematic Ebony harvesting. French used Ebony for luxury furniture. thBy the end of the 18 century, Antwerp became a center of fine Ebony cabinets. After a while, also in Paris,cabinetmakers began producing ebony panels. Soon they were called “ébènistes”.After centuries of unsustainable harvesting, almost all Ebony species are considered threatened or endangered. Inmost western countries, import restrictions on solid wood are in place. In many cases, instead of Ebony, so calledebonized wood is offered. Ebony tree, Sulawesi, Indonesia