Once upon a time, there was a wandering carnival filled with all manner of wonderful creatures. Each night, the magician’s rabbit, the fortune teller’s raven, the acrobat’s fox, the dancing bear, and the ringside camel brought awe and delight to the audience excitedly pressed into the great tent. Then one night, the carnival suddenly went dark….
The Dark Menagerie is a collection of storied jewelry that tells the tale of each animal’s escape from the doomed carnival. Through exploring their stories, readers can piece together the events of that fateful night to uncover who was responsible for the circus’ demise. The pendants are made of laser-cut acrylic hanging from a leather cord, beautifully packaged inside their accompanying tales. Each design comes in smoky black or bone white.
The Fortune Teller’s Raven
The Raven pearched above the carved bones and woven symbols that adorned the fortuneteller’s tend. It’s ebony eyes fixed on the giggling girls at the door.
“One at a time,” the fortuneteller rasped.
The old woman pulled the first customer of the evening inside and the heavy cloth tent flap fell shut, muting the carnival noise outside. Coins passed across the table The fortuneteller read the girl’s palm and turned Tarot cards. As the girl leaned forward, the crone murmered fortunes of love to an opaque crystal ball.
Throughout, the Raven sat silent. He perched immobile until the last girl extended her palm. “Sickness,” the Raven squawked, and both at the table below him jumped. An hour later, the girl had violent food poisoning and was rushed to the hospital.
The Raven was silent for the clerk and the pregnant mother, but to the banker, he intoned, “Poverty” and the old man turned white. “Theft” the Raven told the athlete and “Heartbreak” to the bachelor.
The fortuneteller considered putting the Raven away for a few nights. At the end of the evening, the Lion Tamer pushed the tent flap aside. “Closing time,” he called. The Raven leaned forward and shuffled its feet.
“Death,” it whispered, and made a break for the open door.
The Magician’s Rabbit
After the show was over, the white-gloved hand carried the Rabbit back to its cage. The Magician’s Rabbit hated the white-gloved hand as it hated the black silk hat.
But it was not in the Rabbit’s nature to bite. It was for this reason that the Rabbit had been chosen. The Rabbit had only ever known the hand, the hat and the two-hops-wide by three-hops-long cage in which it lived.
The only time when it was permitted to be out of the cage was when it was placed in the hat. When the hat was worn, or upturned for the inspection of a crowd, the Rabbit was not there. When the hand reached into the hat, however, the Rabbit came forth, for it had been there all along. In this was, the Rabbit was, and was not within the hat.
As they approached the room with the cage, the Rabbit smelled blood.
It thrashed and bit the hand. The hand jerked once, and the Rabbit fell. It leapt over the warm body of a man on the ground and fled through the open door. For the first time, there was grass and leaves and loam beneath its paws. The Rabbit ran until it came to a stream, and then it ran along the stream.
In the moonlight, it should see its own reflection running along a parallel bank. It was on the bank and it wasn’t. There were two, and the Rabbit was quite uncertain whether it was teh Rabbit on the land, or the Rabbit on the water.
The Rabbit ran on, and its reflection ran with it into the night.
The Dancing Bear
The Bear rocked back on its haunches and stared longingly at the moon. Its jaws parted and a great sigh escaped into the night. The Bear was in love with the moon. It longed for the moon so much that its water dish was only half empty and the meat tha twas dinner lay completely untouched.
As the moonlight pooled in the corner of its cage, the Bear placed its paw reverently in the small patch of white and imagined to itself that it was holding just a little piece between its claws. The lion tamer came to unlock the cage and his shadow blotted out the light. The two often took walks together at night. Sometimes the Bear pulled towards the hills where the moon slept but always the lion tamer would tug on his lead and draw him back to the cage and the next carnival performance.
Sometimes, like tonight, they met the pretty lady, who rode the prancing white horses in the great ring and smelled, always, of jasmine. The lion tamer gazed at the pretty lady in the same way that the Bear gazed at the moon and yet, the Bear observed, not at all in the same way. The Bear loved the moon, the lion tamer hunted the lady.
“Is it done?” the lion tamer asked the lady. The pretty lady leaned in and pressed her lips against his lips. The lion tamer made a low, grunting sound and leaned back against a cart. The Bear returned to gazing at the moon. “It’s done,” the lady said. The lion tamer made no reply and the lady hurried away into the night.
The Bear tugged on his lead, but this time, the lion tamer did not pull back. He sat stiff and still against the wheel of the cart, hands clutching his belly, staring at the moon without seeming to see it at all. The Bear got up and started walking towards the hills to find where the moon slept.
The Faraway Camel
The Camel walked East, towards home. It was a place the Camel had only ever heard of because the little sraw-haired boy had told him so. “Camels come from the desert where there are pyramids, and mummies, and swords,” the boy said and showed him a picture in a book he was reading.
That night, and every night after, the Camel dreamed of home. One night, the pretty lady who rode the dainty white horses came to the enclosures with the straw-haired boy and the carnival magician. The camel stuck his head over the enclosure door to get a better look. They put saddles on the two largest steeds, mounted, and rode away without looking back.
The Camel shook its head from side to side until its harness jingled. The ringmaster would not be pleased. The camel’s nostrils flared. It smelled smoke. Suddenly, the far side of the enclosure caught fire. The camel backed away and cried for help, but no one came to save him.
A terrible homesickness overtook the Camel, and he longed desperately for home. Smoke chokend his lungs. The Camel dropped to its knees. The world grew dark despite the brightness of the flames. The Camel closed its eyes and thought only of home. Gradually, the Camel realized that the smoke did not bother his lungs quite so much as it had before, and the flames were not as hot as he had thought they would be. The Camel opened his eyes. The fire had eaten away the side of the enclosure.
The Camel stepped tentatively across the broken barrier and felt no pain from the flames that licked up around it. The Camel turned its head East and began its long journey home.
The Acrobat Boy’s Fox
The Fox’s claws made a gentle scraping sound against the window glass. The Fox was outside, in the night, but inside, a little boy slept with the covers pulled up to his chin. The little boy did not stir when the Fox scratched again.
The Fox’s warm, pink tongue flicked out to lick its nose. It sniffed at the windowpane. There was no scent of the Fox’s boy here, nor of the Jasmine-smelling woman who had taken the boy away.
The Fox peered into the room again.
There was no small acrobat’s costume hung across the chair in the corner. There were no juggling balls for the Fox to balance on its nose. There was no hoop for the Fox to jump through when the boy gave the command. The Fox’s huff of disapproval clouded the glass.
Perhaps this, like all of the other children’s windows he had visited that night, was not the window of his little boy. The little boy rolled over in his sleep. The Fox gave a small yip of glee. It pranced on its hind legs. It leapt as high as it could in the window. It turned a back flip, which the Fox and the boy had been practicing for months.
The child sat up, he stared wide-eyed at the Fox in the window. Then the little boy in the bed screamed for his mother. The Fox bounded away into the night to peer into other windows.
Searching, always, for its lost little acrobat-boy.
Allison Oh – Designer
“Dark Menagerie was an experiment in blending jewelry with narrative, giving people a chance to both enjoy a beautiful piece of art and become a participant in a larger story, piecing together the events of a fateful night long ago as they collect the pendants.”
Rachel Beck – Writer
“People carry stories with them everywhere they go. What if you could wear one?
Disappear into the strange world of the Dark Menagerie. Your ticket is waiting…