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Olive trees grow across all the Mediterranean countries and their particular shape make them recognizable even from those who have not much knowledge about tree species. They have twisted branches and large trunks and some are old, it is amazing overlooking a field of olive trees.
I would like to say something about symbolism and history of this kind of tree, called in the proper way “Olea europaea”. It was known and used from the Greek and Roman period. Olive oil was a luxury good well traded while during Olympics athletes and later in the Roman empire valorous men were given on their head an olive round branch as a symbol of glory. The sacrality of the olive branch is also documented in the Bible and it is important for both Hebrews and Christians as an expression of peace and fraternity.
But this marvellous and beautiful tree has many other healthy features: its bark can be used in wood-burning oven releasing delicious smell on baked food, its leaves can be boiled for herbal teas which have an anti-inflammatory effect. Olive oil is full of vitamin E and can be used for improving hair and skin.
And that is not all. Olive wood has been used since Middle ages in arts and decorative furniture from artisans making pulpits and statues in churches, columns and decorations in private villas, toys, plates, cutlery, trays and more other stuff. It has been used in various ways because of the beautiful pattern of its inner lines it has and a good consistency when carving it and what a smell it makes!
It is largely used in Italy in almost all center and south regions, Sicily included.
Whoever holds an olive wooden craft has love and respect for nature
If this one chooses to buy an artisan piece has the awareness
and respect the work and talent of that man or woman who made it.
My uncle, who has always been a great lover of this wood, creates simple animal-shaped keychains using pieces of the olive tree from the annual tree pruning. With the same template that he uses to make magnets of fir wood, he cut out the shape of the keyring with the reciprocating saw, which he then models with sandpaper. With the drill, he affixes a small hole on each keyring to be able to insert later a cotton thread that weaves and knots or a semi-rigid steel cable and a stainless steel ring. To have an even smoother final effect and a vivid colour, it buffers them with oil which reduces water absorption. They are almost all unique pieces all handmade by himself only and really practical, solid and long-lasting. Mine is a dolphin that I use every day to open the front door from the last three years already. Its shape makes it easily recognizable when I look for it in my bag, especially when I don’t look into it.
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