The incredibly delicate & fragile 'Venus Flower Basket' is for its size & weight most amazingly robust & strong, ...but don't stand or sit on it.
A skeleton of a species of sponge Euplectella aspergillum, which is inhabited by a pair of shrimp in a type of symbiotic relationship with the sponge. The pair of shrimp bond & become entrapped within the sponge for life, however their offspring can escape to form new bonds.
In some Asian far eastern traditions the Venus Flower Basket is given as a wedding gift symbolic of the marriage, like the union of the shrimp lasting for life.
A must have for the connoisseur gentleman or ladies 'Cabinet of Curiosities' collection in the C19th Victorian era, with prices said to have reached as much as £500 for a prize specimen.
|Venus Flower Basket, a favourite in the Victorian 'Cabinet of Curiosities'|
The decoupage boxed example from Boffins Bunker Cornwall Steampunk Collection
The example shown above came when I threw caution to the wind & risked purchasing one mail order from the Philippines. My specimen was less expensive to purchase direct from the far east than from within the UK. I hasten to add my specimen did not command anything like the prices they did in Victoria's reign. The rigid skeletal sponge arrived quite safe & sound in its own polystyrene box.
This Venus Flower Basket is now housed in a more permanent sturdy decoupage wooden box in the Boffins Bunker Steampunk & other collectables 'Cabinet of Curiosities' in Cornwall.