Having teak tables in your home is like owning a piece of natural art. You no doubt have found yourself looking at the grain of the wood and its rich appearance and wondering where it came from and how it managed to become the teak tables you now have in your home.
Teak has a long history of being used for ornate pieces of furniture and decorations as well as practical uses in construction. Initially teak was the wood of choice to use for boats since the material is exceedingly strong and resilient. It holds up to the water and wear of the sea with little impact, due to its naturally oil-heavy qualities. In many countries, teak was the wood of choice for outdoor benches with some of the benches in English parks that were created almost a hundred years ago, still in use today.
The fact that this wood is so oil-rich also means it is extremely heavy. That led to a problem in getting the teak from the spot where the trees were growing in Asia to the artisan shops where they would be worked into becoming teak tables and other furniture pieces. Luckily, these areas had a strong workforce of elephants. These elephants were trained to pull the teak trees from the jungles where they were growing and stack them during one day. At the end of the day, these well-trained pachyderms would hear a bell and know their work was done. Another day, they would have to take on the second part of the job, getting the teak to the coast. While traditional pieces of wood are often floated down rivers, this can't be done with teak. The wood is so dense it will sink, and be lost.
So, the elephants were put back to work, dragging log after log through the forest until they reached the coastline. Once there, the pieces of teak could be used for ship building, repair or be loaded up to be taken to the shops where they would be turned into teak tables and other pieces of furniture.
There was also another possible use of teak wood, in a place of honor. This is visible in some of the old temples that are still standing in China and Thailand. The pillars to hold up these temples were made of teak, and while in many cases the masonry and other portions of the temples have fallen apart, the teak has been able to withstand the test of time and is still erect.
This also supports the reason many people choose ornate teak tables and other pieces as a family heirloom, knowing they will be able to pass down through generations and not wear down and fall apart over time.
The next time you contemplate your teak tables, you may want to consider that long after you and many other members of your family have passed, they will still be living on, as a legacy to the place where the family once gathered.
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