Powder compact with mother of pearl 'Rising Sun' lid : Second World War

Accession Number REL35856
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Metal, Mother of pearl (shell)
Maker Unknown
Place made British Mandate of Palestine: Bethlehem
Date made c 1941-1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Silver metal powder compact with a carved mother of pearl lid. The lid has been set over a red background to highlight the detail of the carving. Some of the red colour has peeled off showing the metal behind it. The voided carving shows an Australian 'Rising Sun' badge surrounded by ornate scroll work Beneath is a band with the word 'JERUSALEM' carved into it in blue. Arabic writing on the back of the powder compact has been over-engraved and is no longer legible. The compact contains the remains of powder and a small powder puff, with a floral design on the top and a pink ribbon to fit over the user's fingers.

History / Summary

Carved mother of pearl souvenirs were popular items bought by Australian service personnel serving in the Middle East to send home to their loved ones. Carving mother of pearl had been a traditional craft in Palestine for centuries and had been introduced to the local population by Franciscan Friars in Damascus and craftsmen from Genoa.

Early mother of pearl souvenirs were primarily aimed at religious pilgrims. During the First and Second World War new secular images were used by the craftsmen that were aimed at military personnel. They included Australian themes, such as the Rising Sun badge, kangaroos and emus.