What is an elephant pearl?

What is an elephant pearl?

Elephant pearls are not really pearls, however, they are categorized as one of the nine pearls. These are produced in the heads and the sockets of the tusks of some elephants. It was believed that when worn by kings, they proved highly sanctifying and bestowed children, victory and sound health. Even now, they are considered to bring good luck.

Elisabeth Strack, in her wonderful comprehensive book called, Pearls, page 284, has this to say about elephant pearls.

So-called elephant pearls have a similar mysterious origin to coconut pearls, and they still cannot really be explained. They are said to come from within the large teeth of elephants and to have a yellowish colour. The pearls are considered to bring good luck, and they were already mentioned in early Arab writings.

Sanskrit literature calls the pearls “gajamukta” (elephant pearls) and speaks with devotion of these rarities. Their colour and consistency resembles ivory. Indian temples are said to have some pearls in their possession, and even Indian gemmologists speak of them.

In Sri Lanka, elephant pearls are also believed to exist, and they are called “gajamuthu”. The formation of the “pearls” can possibly be described as a defensive reaction to injuries.

Other types of calcium formations that show a similar radial structure as pearls have been observed in animal bodies and also within the human body. Pearls are also reported to come from the poison glands of cobras. They are called “nagaratna“.