Chaney: An Untold Story
Excerpts from Shards from the Past by Chris Goodier
Small objects rise to the surface of the earth sometimes and place themselves in our paths as mememtos of the past. On St. Croix, strollers find chaney--shards remaining from fine china imported in the 18th and 19th centuries when the island was covered with sugar cane. Greathouses were outfitted lavishly with the finest mahogany furniture, porcelains, glassware, silver and linens, but these luxury trappings eventually fell by the wayside.
Contents of the greathouses were swept away by hurricanes, earthquakes, and a massive fire burn. A way of life was gone, but shattered porcelain, left behind in the ruins, reappeared on the soil all over the island especially after great rains.
Island children picked up the shards and honed them into rounds to use for games and play money. Initially called china money, or chiney money, it became 'officially' chaney when it was rounded.
No two pieces of chaney are alike and, even though they come in several colors, most common on St. Croix are blue and white bits. Chaney-spotting is a casual hobby for some island residents who fill glass bowls and wicker baskets with the found objects to display in their homes.
Chaney shards, standing alone or set into 'wearable art' jewelry, are precious talismans to their owners as silent witnesses of the island's past history - they seem to want to tell their story.
Find beautiful hand-crafted earings, rings, bracelets, and pendants at the following stores: Crucian Gold, Franklin's, ib designs, and Tropical Bracelet Factory Outlet.