Wood and stems

Many plants hold religious or cultural significance. For example, olive trees have been grown for centuries and have many myths and religious associations. The olive tree is a common symbol for peace and security - the offering of an olive branch originates from the biblical story of Noah and the Ark. The Greek goddess Athena was thought to have placed the first olive tree on the Acropolis and thereby became the patron deity of Athens.

Sandalwood is thought to be sacred and is important in Hinduism and Buddhism, it is an expensive wood which has a strong fragrance due to the oil in the wood. It is commonly used as incense in Hindu temples and to carve figures, boxes and jewellery. It is also used at funerals, bodies are burnt on sandalwood pyres or a necklace made of the wood is placed around the neck of the body.

The bel or bael tree is also a sacred tree and worshipped by Hindus. Lord Shiva is worshipped by offering bel leaves or fruit and a tree is planted at the temple. Young girls from the Newar ethnic group of Kathmandu are married to the bel fruit itself before their first menstruation.


EBC 46130


  • Description: Basil wood necklaces
  • Donor: Dr (later Sir) George King
  • Geographic Area: India
EBC 50410


  • Description: Olive wood bracelets
  • Donor: Miss Fleming
  • Geographic Area: Israel
EBC 63663


  • Description: Bel wood necklace
  • Donor: John Firminger Duthie
  • Geographic Area: India
EBC 37742


  • Description: Brooch made from Irish bog oak
  • Donor: Lady Doneraile
  • Geographic Area: Ireland
EBC 64596


  • Description: Flax stem necklaces
  • Geographic Area: India
EBC 91 (temporary)

91 (temporary)

  • Donor: Ruth Smith
  • Geographic Area: Japan
EBC 52241


  • Description: Kadam wood necklace
  • Donor: James Gamble
  • Geographic Area: India
EBC 78 (temporary)

78 (temporary)

  • Description: Necklace made of stem pieces of the banana leaf plant
  • Donor: Ruth Smith
  • Geographic Area: Hawaii