(too large for jewelry) and makeup (use requires
of elephant feet
indicates that covering them in this file is
unwarranted. Readers, however, have prevailed upon me to include
them because they
are zoogenic and they are used to
fashion well known curios. So, they are treated, but differently
other materials included
on this site – i.e.,the
coverage is relatively short and, because to me the
products are gross, no
illustration is included .
DESCRIPTION: The feet and a short
portion of the lower leg of both the south-central Asian elephant (Elephas
maximus Linnaeus, 1758) and the African
1797)) have been
used. The skin is thick and
almost hairless; the toenails are keratin. Two examples of
the size of elephant feet are "Asian elephant
cow Chukha's left front foot is around 40 cm long as well as wide, and
has a circumference
of 1.34 m. Zürich zoo's elephant bull Maxie's left front
foot is around 47 cm long and 51 cm wide, and has a
circumference of 1.57 m." (Frei, n.d.)
Colors - skin-gray; nails off-white,
commonly stained brownish.
Light transmission -
translucent to opaque
Luster - skin-dull; nails-dull to
Miscellaneous - Typically, African
elephants have four toenails on their front feet and three on their back feet whereas
Asian elephants have five toenails on their front feet and four on
their back feet. But, exceptions exist --
e.g., some African elephants
have been recorded to have the same number
on their front and back feet as their Asian counterparts.
OTHER NAMES: none found
USES: Elephant feet have been
fashioned into such things as drums, ice buckets (most with rather ornate, commonly
metal, lids), ottomans and stools (many with tops of materials
such as zebra or leopard hide),
umbrella stands and waste buckets.
OCCURRENCES & NOTEWORTHY LOCALITIES:
Africa and southern Asia.
REMARKS: Elephant comes from elefaunt [Middle English] via olifant [Old French] and olifantus [Vulgar Latin] from elephas = elephant [ancient Greek].
As is true of
elephant ivory (see IVORY entry), currently, elephant feet and
things fashioned from them can not be
imported legally into the United States...
To make the
items mentioned under USES, it is necessary to hollow out the feet --
i.e., to remove the bones and other
subcutaneous tissues. Taxidermy and tanning procedures are
required to do this and to preserve the
remaining skin and toenails. For some uses, the toenails are
polished, painted or otherwise modified.
One of the
important dances for Dai Nationals (of Yunnan Province, China) is
called the Elephant-foot-drum dance,
which is described as "agile, rugged and free ..." The drumbeat --
traditionally on elephant foot drums -- is described as "not only
the tempo of a
dance but also a kind of language for people
to communicate their feelings." (China four..., 1996-2002). Somewhat
along this line, as a connoisseur of music
of several genre, "Elephant's Foot" by funk
and soul saxophonist
Maceo Parker seems worth
elephant foot has been applied, in the vernacular, to several other
natural and manufactured things.
Examples of NAUTRAL THINGS are the Elephant Foot Glacier along the east
Greenland; the Elephant Foot Cave formation in Lookout
Mountain Cave, near Chatanooga, Tennessee; and
several Plants – e.g., the
African yam (Dioscorea
elephantipes (L'Hérminier) or
elphantipes L'Hérminier), also
called "Hottentot's bread"; the elephant foot palm
recurvata Lemaire 1861),
also known as the ponytail palm; and elephant foot
wildflower (Elephantopus ssp.
-- e.g., E. tomentosus
Linnaeus), which are relatively common
in the southeastern United States, where they are also known as
Examples of MANUFACTURED ITEMS are some Automobile tail
"arty" Glass and Ceramic items (especially jars), the Elephant foot
Clevis, “Dr. Seuss-ish Elephant Foot
Hand bag,” some tobacco pipes, and the “feet” on some furniture
(e.g., old fashioned bathtubs).
Also, some people, especially in Great Britain, refer to rolling
library step stools as an elephant's foot, and
Elephant’s Foot is the nickname for the Malraux Art Gallery in Le
SIMULANTS: None that I
have seen recorded, but ceramic replicas might be considered simulants
by some people; simple observation serves to distinguish these
replicas from elephant feet per se.
REPLICAS: Ceramic replicas have
been marketed for uses such as footstools..
Dietrich © 2015
Last update: September 8, 2007
web page created by Emmett Mason