Beautifully rendered in perfect pearl, these tiny statues illustrate one of the many ways nature’s unparalleled creativity has been utilised by humans.
Currently on display at Leeds City Museum, the gently shimmering effigies are contained within a large, freshwater oyster shell.
Originally inserted into the molluscs by oyster farmers, the miniature statues of Buddha were then coated with pearl by the mollusc so they could later be removed and used for decoration.
Pearls are formed by some molluscs as a defence mechanism against irritants or parasites inside their shell when they create a special sac to seal off the irritation.
The oyster shell is one of a huge range of exhibits from the animal kingdom on display in the museum’s special exhibitions gallery as part of the current Beavers to Weaver’s exhibition.
The exhibition looks at the many different animals which have evolved ways of building their own homes, making tools and traps to catch food and even changing their appearance to hide from predators and prey.
Rebecca Machin, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ curator of natural sciences said:
“The animal kingdom is the setting for some truly extraordinary feats of invention and creativity, far surpassing the efforts of even the most brilliant of human engineers and architects.
“Observing animal behaviour is one of the ways we’re best able to connect with them, so by looking at exactly how and why they go to these remarkable lengths to create objects of such beauty and intricacy, we can understand much more about the lives of the creatures we share the planet with.”
Beavers to Weavers: The Wonderful World of Animal Makers runs until Jan 6, 2019.
The exhibition, which is free to enter, will also include a programme of family-friendly talks and activities.
For more details, please visit: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries