The Ebony wood that is used in the making of chess pieces come from
the tree Coromandel Ebony (Diospyros melanoxylon), also known as East Indian Ebony, or Tendu
in Hindi. The part of the tree most commonly used is the heartwood. The grain of the wood is
commonly straight, with a fine and even texture. The wood can last for a long time as it is
very resistant to decay.
The black chess pieces are made of Ebony.
Although a tough wood to carve, it is excellent for high quality carving as it exhibits excellent finishing and polishing characteristics.
Ebony is a strong, dense and expensive black wood. Ebony pieces are far more sought after and ebony sets more collectable than most other woods. However, it is quite brittle, so it does not withstand impact well.
Ebony wood can also be used for other turnery, fine cabinet work.
Sometimes, you may come across the term striped Ebony. It does not refer to true Ebony but to African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon), a type of black Rosewood.