Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Crafting Day 46 and the Origin of the Term White Elephant

I still can't get a really good photo of these. They are more of a medium blue, toned down from photo and the contrast is an olive green, not brown. I guess I need a sunny day to photograph these, but they will probably be in a Christmas package in the mail before we get one of those.

I also made the larger circle to be used as a matching hot pad. I struggled with it to make it flat, it seemed like the bigger it got the more uneven it was. After stretching and prodding it, I put it unde a huge pile of heavy books to flatten it. All in all, I'm pretty pleased with my first efforts at fulling crocheted circles. I'm planning on other coasters for gits and they may be square, we'll see. I also may try to incorporate some of these swirly type designs into a bag which probably means I will need to crochet at least a portion of it. So many ideas, so little time! I think perhaps that should be the name of my blog.

I promised to relay the information I found on the origin of the term "white elephant" so here it is.
Here is one of the posts I found:

As a relative “newbie” to this “White Elephant” phenomena, I thought I’d do some
research. So, I donned my chicest safari boots (with a matching hat) and set out for the jungles of Africa. Okay, I lied. I sat around in my favorite pair of sweatpants and set out to explore the bottom of a 6 pack of Mt. Dew while running a couple of searches on the net.

As it turns out, white elephants do in fact exist. On occasion, they can be found in India, Africa and Asia. Legend has it, white elephants are so rare that once theanimal has been
spotted, it automatically became property of the King. I
would’ve maybe collected stamps… but to each his own.

It is said that the King used these white elephants as punishments to people who had displeased him. He would send a royal gift of a white elephant with the instructions that the animal could not be ridden, beaten, neglected or killed. Such acts were punishable by death. So, here you have a white elephant you can’t do anything
but take care of and as you can imagine, they are not cheap. Within a matter of months, the recipient of this “gift” would be financially devastated. Hence,a “white elephant” gift is known as an object that has no use and cannot be gotten rid
of. Until …

Someone had the ingenious idea of having a white elephant party. A party in which well thought out and long planned gifts are abandoned and you instead clean out your attic or garage and plan on getting someone else’s unwanted object. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so it is said. Of course, we no long live under the rule of a king and canalways have a garage sale or a gift to an unwanted relative!

I also found this reference to a slightly different origin:
In the late 1800s, P.T. Barnum, who then owned "the greatest show on earth," heard of a sacred "white" elephant in India. He sent an agent to buy it sight unseen. When the animal arrived by ship in Bridgeport, CT, Barnum was horrified to see what the Indians considered to be a "white elephant" turned out to be covered with large pink splotches, and was not white at all. The paying public was not impressed and Barnum had to keep his "white elephant" hidden from public view in a stable. Thus the term "white elephant" came to mean something that was generally useless but too valuable (to the owner) to throw away. (By the way,
the original "white elephant" later died when the stable caught fire.)

Now being a huge fan of the White Elephant store in Green Valley, AZ, I have a little background on their name. By the way, they have a collection of actual "white elephants" I mean elephants that are white, statues and the like, in a display case toward the front of their store.

Now I'm off to find my own "white elephant" from my basement and wrap it up for tomorrow's gift exchange.


Mrs. G. said...

These are so lovely. The colors just pop. I like them so much that I'm going to go and see if you have any for sale in your shop.

It's funny that you wrote about white elephants today. I am posting tomorrow about a white elephant party I went to the night before last.

HomeMadeOriginals said...

None like these for sale in my shop. These are a Chrismtas gift. However I will do custom orders.