11 November 2007
Above is a cup from the Nazca culture of Peru, dating from the period 0-700 AD. The hummingbirds and floral designs were made using the ancient art of pyrography, also known as woodburning. It's generally agreed that pyrography dates back to man's discovery of the uses of fire. Cook meat, provide heat and light and then, make art. Charred pieces of wood could have been used to draw on caves walls and such and, eventually, metal tools were developed. For a while pyrography was called "Poker Art" because a metal poker, heated in the fire, was used to create designs on wood. The first official metal tools consisted of Benzine-fueled tools, like the one below in this early 20th century kit.
The kind of tools we use today were first patented in 1916. In which part of the world the art originated isn't clear but it is clear that it's been practised the world over throughout history. Below can be seen several woodburned items including salt and pepper shakers and an egg cup from Germany, a cigarette box from Russia and a souvenir wooden shoe from Holland.
To learn and see more about pyrography through the ages see the article Antique Pyrography and visit The E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.