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Important: Tightening of CITES regulations on Pernambuco, including finished bows


GeorgeH
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From the VSA:

Dear VSA Colleagues and Friends,

Please read this urgent message sent to us by colleagues from The AFVBM (American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers) regarding recent developments affecting the pernambuco trade. This will directly impact all string players, teachers, bow makers, violin makers, dealers and anyone else whose livelihood depends on strings instruments and bows.

On June 23, Brazil proposed to CITES that Pernambuco be moved from Appendix II to Appendix I.  Brazil's proposal will be reviewed by CITES during a meeting on November 14-25, 2022, in Panama City, Panama. Please find a linked copy of Brazil's proposal here: https://u.pcloud.link/publink/show?code=XZpLwLVZ4a2aKoU2thjWhP3dWVBtrLLEl0vV

We are engaging with management authorities to learn more about the regulatory implications of Brazil's proposal. Pernambuco is currently listed on CITES Appendix II. Under that listing, finished pernambuco bows do not require CITES permits for international trade unless they contain other materials (e.g., monitor lizard) for which a permit is required. Our understanding is that, if Pernambuco is listed on Appendix I, international commercial trade and movement of Pernambuco bows would require CITES export and import permits. Obtaining permits would require proof that the wood has been legally sourced and that its trade would not be detrimental to the species - difficult burdens to meet. And certain types of trade could be prohibited altogether.

Brazil's stated goal is to stop of the illegal exportation and importation of pernambuco bow blanks and bows. The evidence of illegal activity in Brazil is extremely disturbing and now poses a very direct threat to our trade.  We are analyzing the CITES proposal to understand Brazil's intentions, whether the words used in the proposal are consistent with Brazil's intentions, and the proposal's potential impact on trade. We are also gathering information about the trade and preparing a response strategy. We will express support for rules that both halt illegal trading of Pernambuco and enable continued legal trade. 

EILA has been represented during CITES proceedings since 2013.  We have collaborated with other music industry stakeholders to build understanding and promote policies (for rosewood and elephant ivory, e.g.) that consider the needs of our trade and the music sector. In the past year, we have helped to form a new entity, the International Alliance of Violin and Bow Makers for Endangered Species (the "Alliance").  We have also supported for many years the International Pernambuco Conservation Initiative. Now, more than ever before, we need to focus our trade on the conservation and sustainable use of essential natural resources.   

We are also working closely with a large number of music sector partners, including the League of American Orchestras, Chambre Syndicale de la Facture Instrumentale and many other music and musician organizations, to advance our trade's views and position.

We must be honest: the weight of evidence of the threatened status of the species and illegal activity will make it very difficult to avoid the imposition of significantly stronger controls on Pernambuco.  We will make every effort, however, to build the strongest case for our profession. In this connection, we will come back to you with periodic requests for information and also with updates. 

Beyond CITES, and no matter what regulations guide our trade in the future, we must take this opportunity to raise educate our communities, to stand up against illegal trading, and to be a force for the conservation of Pernambuco, which is highly endangered. The stakes are high for each of us: young, experienced, retired, luthiers, bow makers and musicians. Please share this message with all your colleagues as the future of music is in jeopardy. 

Should you have any questions, please communicate directly with Alliance USA via Daniel Weisshaar president@alliance-usa.org and Charles Rufino GeneralSecretary@alliance-usa.org

Best regards,

Bill Scott

President, The VSA

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All very laudable but it could kill the international trade in antique bows.

Anything that can be shown to have been made before the change in CITES classification should be automatically exempted from the need for import/export licenses.

Unlike elephants or sea turtles, it’s really not difficult to plant pernambuco trees - they don’t even have to be planted in Brazil.

 

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4 minutes ago, martin swan said:

 ( ... )

Anything that can be shown to have been made before the change in CITES classification should be automatically exempted from the need for import/export licenses.

Unlike elephants or sea turtles, it’s really not difficult to plant pernambuco trees - they don’t even have to be planted in Brazil.

Not sure if being skeptical helps. Not just about the future... I do not mind playing a Arcus CF bow, but it is ( generally ) not as good my other bows.

It is awful to be stopped at any border crossing at any level.  My experience, an owner of a bow ( a tool for performance ) when travelling. I had an ivory tip bow and feared that it would be confiscated. I would have had the tip replaced, happily, but that did not appear to be an option at the time. Not every agent is fully informed. Would it have been possible to have them understand the idea of, or principles behind exemptions? That was a century old bow, but for that agent, a tip plate that had streaks. Should we get to know the names of every airport/ station manager?

I have not yet been to the region in Brasil. I planned on going over a decade ago before being side tracked by the then economic crisis. I have seen photos of the region and the community. Should I believe that they are good people? I have met a harvester. I believe that the locals understand the value of the resource they produce. Poaching is a different issue.

I would be happy, even if the yields are tested for use long after I am dead, to encourage the growth of Pernambuco... And as much as I believe that some Romanian wood is superior, arguments about origins of wood from northern Italy and Bosnia can be argued at later date. Would Pernambuco from another region be as good? Might be better... My experience has been that other woods are improving. But even the "Ipe" that I see now is not similar to the Ipe that was used a decade ago.

 

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1 hour ago, GoPractice said:

Would Pernambuco from another region be as good? Might be better... My experience has been that other woods are improving. But even the "Ipe" that I see now is not similar to the Ipe that was used a decade ago.

Ipé covers a vast area, so I suppose there are regional variations. Isn't the same true of Pernambuco? And don't all species can have good or bad wood for bowmaking?

And what climate and soil features of the Mata Atlantica would need to be matched in for example the tropical areas of Australia?

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7 hours ago, sospiri said:

Ipé covers a vast area, so I suppose there are regional variations. Isn't the same true of Pernambuco? And don't all species can have good or bad wood for bowmaking?

And what climate and soil features of the Mata Atlantica would need to be matched in for example the tropical areas of Australia?

There are many varieties of "Ipe" woods sold out there, but am often not sure which or where or origins of any particular bow wood unless I speak with someone very knowledgeable or to the maker. You are correct that the quality varies when it comes to producing a bow ( or any specified tool or irregularities in a spruce top. ) But am always surprised when a maker produces something wonderful out of what appears to be mediocre sticks. Also when a maker throws out a stick when nearly at dimension due to a flaw in the wood. In either instance, they are losing money.

The area in Brasil is a narrow strip along the coast, a long bus ride from the airport. It is a relatively small area. There are bow makers there and I wanted to meet them, see their methods. If work picks up, maybe it would be worth flying down this winter. 

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For a musician who needs to travel with a pernambuco bow, reclassifying pernambuco doesn’t present a problem. 
But it will not be possible to send a bow internationally on trial, since it would require a re-export and import license in both directions, as is currently the case with historic ivory or tortoiseshell.

This will seriously disadvantage musicians in less wealthy countries where the supply of good historic bows is either poor or nonexistent.

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1 hour ago, GoPractice said:

There are many varieties of "Ipe" woods sold out there, but am often not sure which or where or origins of any particular bow wood unless I speak with someone very knowledgeable or to the maker. You are correct that the quality varies when it comes to producing a bow ( or any specified tool or irregularities in a spruce top. ) But am always surprised when a maker produces something wonderful out of what appears to be mediocre sticks. Also when a maker throws out a stick when nearly at dimension due to a flaw in the wood. In either instance, they are losing money.

The area in Brasil is a narrow strip along the coast, a long bus ride from the airport. It is a relatively small area. There are bow makers there and I wanted to meet them, see their methods. If work picks up, maybe it would be worth flying down this winter. 

I think that with bow wood, just like spruce there is lucky wood and our brain has its own lucky meter to help us determine how well it plays.

I would like to visit the Mata Atlantica to see how the replanting schemes are progressing. It's a fast growing tree and doesn't need lots of growth rings to produce bows. So maybe in the next 20 years these projects can be successful?

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2 hours ago, martin swan said:

For a musician who needs to travel with a pernambuco bow, reclassifying pernambuco doesn’t present a problem. 

Would one still need to obtain a permit for each bow they travel with?

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2 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

Would one still need to obtain a permit for each bow they travel with?

Your question seems to be answered in the AFVBM message that you quoted in your original post:

"...If Pernambuco is listed on Appendix I, international...movement of Pernambuco bows would require CITES import and export permits..."

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2 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

Your question seems to be answered in the AFVBM message that you quoted in your original post:

Which is why I was curious about what @martin swan wrote. I don't think traveling in and out of countries with personal equipment qualifies and importing and exporting, but you may need some other kind of CITIES paperwork.

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2 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

Which is why I was curious about what @martin swan wrote. I don't think traveling in and out of countries with personal equipment qualifies and importing and exporting, but you may need some other kind of CITIES paperwork.

You would need a certificate to travel with a pre-2007 pernambuco bow, but it would become practically impossible to buy one outside your home country. 
 

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The big question will be if any custom officers or authority will be able to distinguish between different species of bow woods, even to tell apart tropical and non tropical sorts.

The actual ivory ban often doesn't work due to similar reasons.

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1 hour ago, Blank face said:

The big question will be if any custom officers or authority will be able to distinguish between different species of bow woods, even to tell apart tropical and non tropical sorts.

This sort of thing always reminds me of going home to Nottingham one Christmas from Munich. At Luton airport, I got pulled across and had my bag searched.. “Wot’s this sir?”… “That’s dragons blood”….”You can’t fool me mate, I know there ain’t no Dragons” etc. etc.

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10 hours ago, sospiri said:

I think that with bow wood, just like spruce there is lucky wood and our brain has its own lucky meter to help us determine how well it plays.

I would like to visit the Mata Atlantica to see how the replanting schemes are progressing. It's a fast growing tree and doesn't need lots of growth rings to produce bows. So maybe in the next 20 years these projects can be successful?

For those interested, there are utube videos with Maestro Yung Chin ( who will be there at VSA Anaheim this fall? ) where he speaks a bit about Pernambuco. Episode 2 is a bit about Mata Atlantica. I feel fortunate in having met him in various settings and witnessed a very informative re- cambering.

Please do a utube search, if interested, with the keywords: Master bow maker Yung Chin wood

I realize that I come across as being a jerk in most posts and, coincidentally, am in "real life." I remind myself daily that whatever one's craft in the arts, it is a brutal life. I made a student cry at their first lesson recently. I want to cry along with them but the seriousness and with respect to the student, I do not.

When you mention "lucky," you mean skill? I am old enough to own boards of Pernambuco. They are still boards because there are very few bowmakers willing to discuss how they would layout the cuts. I have approached many even paying one. The process, unfortunately, can be very inefficient. I know where to cut, producing lots of waste. Would it make sense to cut a few other sticks? Should I have two nice sticks or five, six, seven, mediocre sticks? But you are correct that virtual luck is involved. I am nor skilled or smart enough to make better bows of bad cuts. But I am aware that I am not smart enough or skilled enough to be a maker of any kind. I leave it to the experts.  

With fairly sharp planes, the Pernambuco I use is at least 70 years old from seedlings. Generally, with "luck," the sticks were acquired from estates/ shops that were being closed in the 1970s but I paid a considerable sum to a "middle man" for the material. The wood is somewhat dry and it a wonderful sound during planing.

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38 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

This sort of thing always reminds me of going home to Nottingham one Christmas from Munich. At Luton airport, I got pulled across and had my bag searched.. “Wot’s this sir?”… “That’s dragons blood”….”You can’t fool me mate, I know there ain’t no Dragons” etc. etc.

And after you left from gate 9 threequarter?:rolleyes:

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49 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

This sort of thing always reminds me of going home to Nottingham one Christmas from Munich. At Luton airport, I got pulled across and had my bag searched.. “Wot’s this sir?”… “That’s dragons blood”….”You can’t fool me mate, I know there ain’t no Dragons” etc. etc.

I went to my ortho doctor and saw a jar of Sanity Cloths on the shelf for cleaning wounds. I told him he was a Big Boy and should know there ain't no Sanity Cloth.

 

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I spent a lot of time and effort looking through receipts of purchases of wood that occurred before the listing of various CITIES restrictions to get permissions to export or just sell various pieces of wood. I don't know if this new ruling will effect this. I have put in a call with the Lady from Fish and Wildlife who worked with me to process them. I plan on taking quite a few sticks to the VSA convention to sell since it has become terribly evident that I personally will not be making very many bows in the future. I will keep you all posted when I find out what she says.

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1 hour ago, GoPractice said:

For those interested, there are utube videos with Maestro Yung Chin ( who will be there at VSA Anaheim this fall? ) where he speaks a bit about Pernambuco. Episode 2 is a bit about Mata Atlantica. I feel fortunate in having met him in various settings and witnessed a very informative re- cambering.

Please do a utube search, if interested, with the keywords: Master bow maker Yung Chin wood

I realize that I come across as being a jerk in most posts and, coincidentally, am in "real life." I remind myself daily that whatever one's craft in the arts, it is a brutal life. I made a student cry at their first lesson recently. I want to cry along with them but the seriousness and with respect to the student, I do not.

When you mention "lucky," you mean skill? I am old enough to own boards of Pernambuco. They are still boards because there are very few bowmakers willing to discuss how they would layout the cuts. I have approached many even paying one. The process, unfortunately, can be very inefficient. I know where to cut, producing lots of waste. Would it make sense to cut a few other sticks? Should I have two nice sticks or five, six, seven, mediocre sticks? But you are correct that virtual luck is involved. I am nor skilled or smart enough to make better bows of bad cuts. But I am aware that I am not smart enough or skilled enough to be a maker of any kind. I leave it to the experts.  

With fairly sharp planes, the Pernambuco I use is at least 70 years old from seedlings. Generally, with "luck," the sticks were acquired from estates/ shops that were being closed in the 1970s but I paid a considerable sum to a "middle man" for the material. The wood is somewhat dry and it a wonderful sound during planing.

I have watched Maestro Chin's videos. Sorry but he just doesn't do it for me. He's repeating banal clichés about Pernambuco and Ipé, first he says Ipé is too dense, it's not, it has the same density range as Pernambuco. Then he says that because of this, Ipé has a different balance point which doesn't suit "modern playing? Then he says Pernambuco has the highest elasticity of any wood.. blah blah blah. I don't doubt his ability and knowledge of the history, but those statements are just plain wrong and easy to look up or measure yourself. 

I think the reason why Pernambuco is felt to be superior by players is the subtlety of the vibrations due to the complexity of the structure. It's not just about a measurable elasticity, a good player appreciates things in ways they can't explain, just feel. The tactile senses are immeasurably complex, they have to be to communicate the music through the playing.

The fact that Pernambuco is also a very beautiful wood is a huge bonus. Does that also sway our affection? This could hopefully be investigated using blind tests.

When I say Lucky wood, I mean wood that you like the sound of in spruce and the feel in a bow. The characteristics of the wood in density, feel and responsiveness.

I am interested in your Pernambuco boards and how best to cut them. I spent a lot of time studying this and working out a technique for high yield whilst preserving the right grain alignments. But I am in the UK. Are you in the US? Either way, I can show you my methods and explain them.

 

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3 hours ago, martin swan said:

On a larger point this would end the use of pernambuco for bow making, and render a lot of recently made bows worthless 

it’s a very big deal for our industry, far more so than ivory.

I don't believe this. The new measures will make Pernambuco bows even more exclusive and desirable. Good for makers and dealers. Not so good for players though. They get the sharp end of the stick.

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10 hours ago, sospiri said:

I have watched Maestro Chin's videos. Sorry but he just doesn't do it for me. He's repeating banal clichés about Pernambuco and Ipé, first he says Ipé is too dense, it's not, it has the same density range as Pernambuco. Then he says that because of this, Ipé has a different balance point which doesn't suit "modern playing? Then he says Pernambuco has the highest elasticity of any wood.. blah blah blah. I don't doubt his ability and knowledge of the history, but those statements are just plain wrong and easy to look up or measure yourself. 

 

 

Probably the main reason why Yung Chin is one of the most respected people in the business is because he has had daily contact with great musicians over many years. He has also had the chance to study thousands of great historic bows.

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4 minutes ago, martin swan said:

Probably the main reason why Yung Chin is one of the most respected people in the business is because he has had daily contact with great musicians over many years. He has also had the chance to study thousands of great historic bows.

Yes and one of the things he says about the history in part 2 is that when aniline dyes came in the trade in Pernambuco faded out.

That's the part that interests me. They had to cut the wood conservatively. This situation is even more acute now.

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9 minutes ago, sospiri said:

Yes and one of the things he says about the history in part 2 is that when aniline dyes came in the trade in Pernambuco faded out.

That's the part that interests me. They had to cut the wood conservatively. This situation is even more acute now.

I hear the clunky sound of goalposts moving :lol:

I wold remind you of your criticisms of Yung Chin :

10 hours ago, sospiri said:

I have watched Maestro Chin's videos. Sorry but he just doesn't do it for me. He's repeating banal clichés about Pernambuco and Ipé, first he says Ipé is too dense, it's not, it has the same density range as Pernambuco. Then he says that because of this, Ipé has a different balance point which doesn't suit "modern playing? Then he says Pernambuco has the highest elasticity of any wood.. blah blah blah. I don't doubt his ability and knowledge of the history, but those statements are just plain wrong and easy to look up or measure yourself. 

 

 

 

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