Bone Collecting? Really?
photo credit creative commons license kutakizukari
I must be on a weird kick. After last weeks post about collecting birds eggs I thought that I would get back to the safe subjects of collectibles (the normal kind: albums, old photos, tea pots and so on) but no, I find myself immersed in another kind of weirdness which in a strange way I can understand a relate to a little better than I can to collecting birds eggs.
This week’s corner of weird is about collecting bones, which doesn’t sound that weird, after all, biologists / zoologists do it, most kids will get excited when they find an animal bone or skull in nature, and with good reason. It gives them a peep at what their insides might look like, it gives them a better understanding of both animal and human anatomy; bones are mysterious – usually, in normal situations, the existence of his skeleton is nothing more than a rumor to a child, since it is hidden under his skin and meeting a skull or vertebrae in person takes a way some of the mystery, or, in a way, lets the child in on one of the secrets of the universe.
I remember hiking with my father when I was no older than 6 or 7 and finding an animal skull, probably of some kind of deer. It must have been very old, since it had been bleached by the sun and I was totally enchanted by it. Bone has also always been a useful material in tool and jewelry making since the dawn of mankind, and as such, so collecting animal bones is not really as weird and bizarre as one would initially think.
What I do find extraordinarily grotesque is the ways many bone collectors collect the bone – which for me (personally) is crossing a line. Not a moral line, since the animals are already dead, but there are certain lengths I would go to obtain what I want, and not further. The actions involved in bone collecting are way passed my marker.
But then again, that’s just me.
Ray Bandar obviously has a different point of view on this. The eighty year old has been collecting bones for close to 50 years. He collects the bones of road kill, sea mammals caucuses was up to the beach. He has no issue with the freshness of the animal or the state it is in. Ray is a biologist, but his private collection, which adorns the walls, floors, ceilings and surfaces in his house, amounts to an estimated 7000 skulls, 200 pelvises and many other bits and pieces.
You might think that Ray is one of a kind, since how many people are prepared to clean rotting flesh off bones, with different and delightful means such as flesh eating bugs, bacteria and so on? But you would be wrong. A quick search brings up many people who collect bones in a serious fashion, some are coming at it from the same direction Ray is, some for religious reasons (honoring the spirit of the dead animal) and others have turned obsession into profession.